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The 2nd law in John C. Maxwells “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” is The Law of Influence. Maxwell opines that the true measure of leadership is influence. He asserts that there are no other measures. He quotes:
“True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that cannot be mandated. It must be earned.”
I am in absolute agreement with Maxwell that leaders earn the right to lead and that comes from their ability to influence the people that surround them. I am concerned, however, that all too often people confuse influence with manipulation.
The dictionary definition of the word Manipulate is:
“to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfairmanner: to manipulate
I believe that the true measure of a leader is much more complex than simple influence. I believe that truth, honesty, compassion and transparency all form part of the equation. I understand that these factors form part of the leaders ability to influence but without them, influence tends towards manipulation.
In support of my opinion, Maxwell provides five myths about leadership and six factors that make a leader:
Five Myths About Leadership
The Management Myth – that leading and managing are the same. Leadership is about influencing people to follow, while management focuses on maintaining systems and processes. Managers can maintain direction; to move people you need influence.
The Entrepreneur Myth – entrepreneurs are skilled at seeing opportunities and going after them. But not all of them are good with leading people in their vision.
The Knowledge Myth – neither IQ nor education necessarily equates to leadership.
The Pioneer Myth – being a trendsetter is not the same as being a leader. To be a leader, a person has to not only be out in front, but also has to have people following his lead.
The Position Myth – leadership is not based on rank or title. It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position.
Six Factors That Make a Leader
Character – Who They Are – true leadership always begins with the inner person. People can sense the depth of a person’s character.
Relationships – Who They Know – with deep relationships with the right people you can become the real leader in an organization.
Knowledge – What They Know – information is vital. You need a grasp of the facts to develop an accurate vision for the future.
Intuition – What They Feel – leaders seek to recognize and influence intangibles such as energy, morale, timing and momentum.
Experience – Where They’ve Been – the greater your past challenges, the more likely followers will be willing to let you lead.
Ability – What They Can Do – the bottom line is followers want to know whether you can lead them to victory. As soon as they no longer believe you can deliver, they will stop following.