People do not always understand it, but leadership does not come from a title. Leadership comes from relationship, influence, and persuasion. The genuine leader must know how to build relationships and persuade people, and that will never happen without influence.
Bernard Tyson is the CEO of Kaiser Permanente. In the 1990s, he was in a variety of VP roles. Although he was not yet the CEO, Tyson continued to learn all he could about leadership. He obviously understood the essence of leadership because he put it into practice. That is what sustained him in all his roles to that point in time but it also prepared him for his future CEO role. Tyson describes his experience (“How Did I Get Here?: Bernard Tyson” Bloomberg Businessweek, 9/28/15–10/4/15, p. 96):
“I learned how to lead by selling and influencing, as opposed to having complete control.”
The true leader is never the person with the title. It is always the person with the influence.