Normally we think of leadership as an appointed position. You work for years jumping through hoops until someone with authority gives you an official position of authority of your own. With that authority you are given leverage over other people — they must obey you, otherwise there will be consequences. This is not leadership. This is management.
You may be managing budgets, resources, time and people, but you are not inspiring anyone. No one is following you. Nobody cares about your opinion. They are doing just enough not to get in trouble, or just enough to give them a shot at your position one day. Their fate is partially in your hands. That’s why they do what you say. Not because they respect you.
A real leader leads — he sets the example. A real leader has followers — people who want to hear from her. A real leader earns the respect of others. A real leader does what others are afraid to do, and does it with more grace than most would. A real leader treats others the way he would want to be treated. A real leader can make a positive difference, regardless of her position. A real leader can be anyone. That leader can be you. You don’t need to wait for permission.