Prasad again has a thought provoking post on what he calls the "leadership sandwich"
So if we can say that "Team Leaders influence without formal authority because they don't have any formal authority and Business Leaders influence without formal authority because they choose not to exercise their formal authority" - then we have the description of a phenomenon that follows the U-curve - that too perfectly!
I personally think that even managers are using formal authority rarely. This is when the decision is unpalatable for their direct reports. The formal authority role gets restricted to implementing people processes, and choosing a high performer vs leaving out another when looking to reward behavior is the one example of exercise of formal authority.
So even managers are starting to make the move to becoming facilitative leaders. So what does that make the sandwich into?