Use your influence to lead wherever you are.

Clay Scoggins, lead pastor, North Point Community Church

Clay Scoggins is the lead pastor at North Point Community Church and works for Andy Stanley. His book, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, sums up in the title alone the potential tension and frustration of having a position of leadership but not, perhaps, the authority to make changes. More importantly, Scoggins wants Christians to understand that while they may not have an official title of authority, every one has the power to influence others and outcomes.

“Many of the greatest leaders in history had no title or positional authority to make change. They just had influence. And that’s the best tool of leadership any of us can have,” he says. “The sooner you and I begin to understand we don’t have to have authority to have influence, the sooner we begin to lead as we were made to lead…to harness our organizations to push change, new ideas, and progress forward.”


Scoggins is realistic about the potential for becoming passive or, as he terms it, becoming a “passive victim” when one’s ideas or plans are shut down by those over them. Instead, Scoggins believes people should realize that while no one is ultimately in charge of everything, everyone is in charge of something.

“God has put you in charge of something. And you can create an oasis of excellence wherever God has put you in charge,” he says. “Instead of complaining about the areas where I’m not in charge, I can be grateful for those places where I am in charge. And I can choose to lead as well as possible exactly where I am today.”

Another test to consider is that someone is always watching to see if we can handle the amount of authority already placed in front of us. Scoggins notes that when in a meeting with peers, you cannot tell folks to listen to you. Rather, he recommends, “You use influence you have built over time through faithfulness, kindness, competence, and trustworthiness. When you have that kind of trust with the people you work with, it’s powerful. And if you don’t have it, it’s frustrating. The good news is you can begin today to set a new trajectory for your future.”


Another fascinating aspect to the whole principle of influence is that it always outpaces authority. “The ultimate twist is this: The greatest leaders lead as if they are not in charge, even when they are in charge. Jesus did this. He had all the power of Heaven yet He chose to serve. He could have forced people to follow Him, but He didn’t. His closest followers chose to follow because of the way He loved and served them. Why did He lead that way? Because leveraging influence is a better way of leadership than wielding authority.”

Scoggins wants Christian booksellers to communicate this important fact to potential buyers who are interested in leadership growth and skills. “Ninety-nine percent of leadership material speaks to the 1 percent who are actually in charge. I wanted to speak for the rest of us.”

Although he isn’t an expert on leadership, Scoggins is on a mission to learn how to lead without authority. Retailers can apply these same principles as they seek to influence customers toward a deeper understanding of what it means to lead. “Whether you’re in the mailroom or the boardroom, you can learn to lead yourself well. And you can start today. You’ll be ready for increased authority tomorrow if you learn to lead with influence today.”

Scoggins sums up the main takeaways of his book in four succinct points that transcend workplace leadership territory: “Lead yourself. Choose positivity. Think critically. Reject passivity.”

—Michele Howe