In this 21 part series, based on John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I’ll take you on a journey towards better leadership. I’ll share with you my own leadership lessons and insights. As a John Maxwell Coach, Trainer and Speaker I’ll be happy to deliver transformational leadership training for your team or organization. See the details below.
Part 2 of 21: The Law of Influence
The Law of Influence: The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less. ~ John C. Maxwell
This law states that the greatness of a leader is not measured by the amount of money one makes or position one has, but by the amount of lives one influences. Without influence, you will never be able to lead others.
Leadership is often misunderstood. Here are the top 5 myths people tend to believe:
- The Management Myth – Leading and managing is NOT the same! Management focuses on maintaining systems and processes. Leadership is about moving people in the right direction.
- The Entrepreneur Myth – Not all entrepreneurs are good with people. If you can’t influence people, you can’t lead.
- The Knowledge Myth – Just visit any university and you will find people with a high IQ or countless titles, but with an extremely low leadership level. Leadership has nothing to do with education or IQ.
- The Pioneer Myth – Some believe that anyone who is out in front of the crowd is a leader. But being first isn’t always the same as leading. To be a leader, you must not just be at the front, but also have people intentionally coming behind you, following your lead and acting on your vision.
- The Position Myth – As Stanley Huffty said, ‘It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position.’ You don’t need a position to lead. And even if somebody takes away your position, they can’t take away your influence over the lives of those who follow you.
This brings us back to the beginning… The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.
No matter what we think or do, we all lead. We all have people in our lives that look up to us and follow our lead. Some lead on a higher scale, some on a smaller scale. Despite how big or small your influence, you are somewhere between 1 and 10 on the scale. The question you need to ask is not ‘Am I a leader?’, but ‘What type of leader am I?’
There are great leaders and there also are some very bad leaders. If you are a bad leader, your leadership will be in the lower levels because you can only influence those who are in the lower leadership level themselves. There are 7 major areas you must look into to evaluate your leadership.
1. Character – Who you are
True leadership always begins within a person. You don’t attract people you WANT, you attract people who you are ALIKE. There are many great leaders who lost their influence simply because they neglected the importance of character. Back when I was in my early twenties, I was heavily involved in some key positions at my school and church. The expectations on my character and how I lived my life seemed too much for me at that time. There were times when I wanted to forget it all and do something ‘bad’. But in spite of it, I chose the higher road. Character matters. If you want to increase your leadership level, you MUST focus on character. Choose to be more than what others expect from you. It might seem hard in the moment, but it’s always worth it in the long term.You don't attract people you want. You attract people you are alike. Click To Tweet
2. Relationships – Who you know
Leadership depends on relationships. The deeper the relationships, the stronger the potential for leadership. Build enough of the right kinds of relationships with the right people, and you can become a real leader in an organization. Relationships are always a high priority for me. Being a natural introvert, it’s easy for me to hide behind my computer screen (maybe the reason why I enjoy social media?). But understanding the importance of relationships, I go the extra mile and choose to smile at people, stretch out a hand, ask a question instead of waiting for someone else to come to me. Stop hiding behind your excuses and choose to reach out to others. Many are just as insecure as you. Choose to make a difference!
3. Knowledge – What you know
Information is vital to a leader. Even though knowledge won’t make you a leader (see The Knowledge Myth above), it’s necessary if you want to become a great leader. Do your homework, spend time to get to know your industry, your environment, your team, your clients, before you try to lead.
4. Intuition – What you feel
We’ll discuss this one a bit later when we talk about the Law of Intuition. But for now, you need to know that this is the difference between managers and leaders. Leaders recognize and influence intangibles like energy, morale, timing, and momentum. Leaders always choose the higher road.Leaders always choose the higher road. Click To Tweet
5. Experience – Where you’ve been
The greater the challenges you’ve faced as a leader in the past, the more likely followers are to give you a chance in the present. Just like knowledge, experience doesn’t make you a leader, but it sure expands your leadership level once you have it. I could talk for days about my own experiences as a young leader. I started to lead early, in my teenage years. And I made some major mistakes that I’m not proud of. But instead of giving up, I chose to learn from my mistakes, improve and turn my mess into a message. You too can learn to lead. Your past failures don’t prove anything other than that, you’re on a journey. Don’t give up and you WILL get better!
6. Past success – What you’ve done
Nothing speaks to followers like a good track record. When I started to lead as a teenager, I had no track record (unless you can count a very bad one). But by constantly learning, trying and improving I managed to start my very own non-profit organization in my twenties and establish it so well that more than 10 years later, it’s still running and servicing hundreds of families. Since then I’ve built my own (successful) track record with many other organizations, teams and individuals around the globe. The longer you lead and the more you improve, the more successes you’ll collect along the way. You will grow the number of people who pay attention to what you say or do. Choose to build your house slowly, but with integrity, and you will reap the benefits.
7. Ability – What you can do
The bottom line for followers is what a leader is capable of. They want to know that you can deliver. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s not too hard to positively surprise people. About 80% of people out there fail to deliver on their promises. We live in a society where people have big mouths, but empty hands. If you choose to fulfill the expectations, people will notice. But if you decide to go the extra mile and go above and beyond, you will end up among the top 2% who exceed expectations. People like that constantly surprise people, because they live at a higher standard and can be counted on. They don’t over-promise to please people. They know how to say ‘no’ to the good so that they can focus on ‘great’.Learn to say NO to good so that you can focus on great. Click To Tweet
If you can’t influence people, then they will not follow you. And if people won’t follow, you are not a leader. No matter what anybody else may tell you, remember that leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.
This article is part of a 21-part leadership series.
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To your success,
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