One of my favorite laws in John C. Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is the Law of Influence.
The Law of Influence says, “The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
John tells us that there are several factors that come into play when it comes to leaders who are influential. They are:
- Character – Who they are
- Relationships – Who they know
- Knowledge – What they know
- Intuition – What they feel
- Experience – Where they’ve been
- Past Success – What they’ve done
- Ability – What they can do
This law was reinforced to me following a discussion I had with a new CEO. He was a leader that I had worked with in the past, and we were connecting because he wanted me to do some work with him and his new leadership team. He really sees the value in teams understanding each other’s styles and expectations and getting alignment early so that the team can really move faster together. I love working with those kind of leaders!
We started talking about the plan to move forward, including some new tools that would really help him and the team select, develop and coach talent at all levels of the organization. As we wrapped up our conversation and I asked him about next steps, he said, “You know, Jill, I know that this is the right thing to do, and I am fully supportive of doing everything that we talked about. I can make the decision myself without any other input or approvals, but you know what I have learned about leadership over the years? The higher you move up in leadership, the more it is about influence.”
Well, of course he spoke right to my heart there. He went on to say, “I am going to share this with my team and the board to make sure they are able to be heard and that they support this approach as well.”
A few days later, we finalized the plan with additional insight and feedback from his team and the board. He now has a plan that will help him and the team succeed – not because he is so smart and has the authority to make the decision, but because he values his team and knows that influence is the secret sauce to leadership success.
Position and titles do not give you influence – they give you authority. Authority without influence is not inspiring, motivating or long lasting. People will fear you or appease you to get a paycheck, but, if you really want to get the best out of people for your organization, learn how to grow your influence!
If you are a new or seasoned leader – ask yourself the following questions:
- Look at the last few decisions you made. How many of them were made alone versus with the team?
- How are you encouraging your team to reach out to others when they are making decisions?
- How often do your peers come to you to provide input into decisions?
People want to follow leaders who they trust and who have demonstrated success in the past. As leaders move up in the organization, those who are most successful realize that you need to influence your team, your peers, your leaders and, eventually, your board of directors! Think about how you are influencing those around you. If you are not doing that today, right now is a great time to start!