Influencing without Authority – a leadership story from Buddha

“One moment can change a day, one day can change a life, one life can change a world” – Buddha

Buddha has a special impression in my heart and I think of him as a highly spiritual, supreme intelligent leader. Buddha showed how to led life and to live ethically with wisdom and harmony with others. 

The most prominent lesson from his life was that he enlightened others without any authority over them. He had influenced millions of lives by spreading the message of spirituality and teaching them valuable lessons without any authority.

“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.” ~ Brian Tracy

Buddha lived his life with zen and could enlighten to a vengeful warrior like Ashoka into a peaceful emperor to do many good things for his life. Angulimala was waiting for the 1000th person to kill and buddha fearlessly and confidently walked to him to change the heart of a serial killer.  

What was his secret?

This giant Buddha statue can be found in Hong Kong. Photo by Jason Cooper (

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” ~ John C. Maxwell

He had clear goals and directives to enlighten others. He was firm and rational with his approach. He led by example, in many cases his own example. He believed in creating leaders not only followers. He found his purpose and worked towards that. He had the highest emotional intelligence.

Knowledge and Expertise

“Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.” ~ Mary D. Poole

He was enlightened to pass that light to others. He had knowledge and expertise from his meditation practices. He could show the path to others as he could clearly see that. He was focused and aligned with himself, so others could believe in him. He was disciplined enough to help others to be on the right path.

Handling a difficult situation

“Whoever doesn’t flare up at someone who’s angry wins a battle that’s hard to win.”

In many instances, Buddha had to face to manage conflicts and difficult situations. He uniquely treated everyone equally. To him, a mistake is a mistake if it is by a senior or junior member. He resolved conflicts effectively and managed difficult situations well. He created an open community. 

Compassion and equanimity

“If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass with sharing it in some way.”

He showed empathy toward others. He believed in forgiving and understanding limitations. He believed in diversity and Inclusion and he empowered minorities, women, and young groups of followers. 


His communication was effective, his message was clear. Millions of people can still understand him. He believed in staying in the middle and avoid extremism, that helped to simplify his messages to people. He could effectively present his point.

“If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path.” 

Buddha is not only a spiritual leader, but he also gave us a way to today’s leadership. Influencing without authority is becoming more and more common in today’s world when we deal with data and products, his example is enough to follow to be successful to build trust, motivate and empower others and lead effectively.

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