i4cp Study: Leaders Are Defined by Influence, Not Role

Next Practices for Global-Minded Organizations70% of organizations considered effective at global leadership development define leaders by the role they play, rather than their job title

The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), a research organization that focuses on the people practices that drive market performance, has released a new report outlining four emerging practices for global leadership development.

The report, Next Practices for Global-Minded Organizations (non-members: download a free summary report), explores each of the four practices and features case studies with Molson Coors and FedEx Express.

Nearly 1,200 practitioners worldwide were surveyed in partnership with the American Management Association (AMA) and Training magazine as part of an annual study. One of the most noticeable findings was that increasingly, organizations are defining leaders by influence, not organization charts.

Definition of leaders

The largest proportion of participants in this study (39%) said that their definition of leader is “anyone whose role allows them to influence a group, regardless of direct reporting relationships.” Another 14% said “anyone, whether they manage others or not, who is a top-performer in their specific role” is a leader. Together, more than half (53%) defined their leaders not by the individual's job level but by their roles of influence and performance.

"Of the companies that reported having effective global leadership development programs, 70% of companies use a more inclusive definition of a leader,” said Donna Parrey, Senior Research Analyst with i4cp and author of the report.

The full report is available exclusively to i4cp members; a summary version can be downloaded here.

Global leadership development continues to be a topic of focus in i4cp's Executive Leadership Development Exchange, a peer working group that includes Cargill, Penske, Pitney Bowes, Toyota Financial Services and several other leading organizations.


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To serve is greater than to lead; to serve is the real honour, and the real power. To serve a family - a body - a community and to give the best of yourself in the way of usefulness to that body - . how can a society focused on self ever hope to succeed? Micro /Macro what ever level one chooses. We are greedy - I am greedy. I am a product of greed. What do you mean by leader? A true leader - a successful leader will be one who is most able to serve.
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Humans are inclined to aspire for leadership because of the benefits it attracts and not usually available at influence level. While influence is good, most influential people don't seek or strive to influence but it so happens that they 've something valid, unfortunately, the influence is not always positive.
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