John Maxwell’s Leadership Law #2: The Law of Influence

law of influenceEvery management expert claims to have created the best definition of leadership. After years of trying to come up with a better way of saying it myself, I keep coming back to the simple explanation that thought leader Dr. John C. Maxwell describes in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

In his chapter on the Law of Influence, John C. Maxwell writes: ”The true measure of leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.” According to Maxwell, real leadership cannot be awarded: it must be earned through influence.

Leadership Myths and the Law of Influence

To go along with the Law of Influence, Maxwell outlines five common myths about leadership. The first is the management myth, which is that management and leadership are two equal terms. According to Maxwell, the difference is that “leadership is about influencing people to follow, while management focuses on maintaining systems and processes.”

The second myth is the entrepreneur myth, which is the assumption that all entrepreneurs are leaders. Many entrepreneurs are not well-suited to leadership roles: some lack people skills, others lack experience, and still, others are only focused on making a profit. A leader is someone who can be trusted.

Next is the knowledge myth, which is that “knowledge is power.” Many incredibly intelligent people are not great leaders, simply because leadership requires more than knowledge. As Maxwell writes, “Neither IQ nor education necessarily equates to leadership.”

Fourth is the pioneer myth, which is the idea that whoever is in front of the crowd is a leader. However, being a leader requires much more than merely being the first one to accomplish a task or think of an idea.

Finally, the position myth: the idea that leadership is based on position. How many managers can you think of that have had positions of power but were terrible leaders? Poor management is a leading reason why people leave their jobs. Maxwell sums it up: “it’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position.”

The Law of Influence in Your Business

To utilize the Law of Influence, you must first realize where you have bought into the leadership myths in your own business. Perhaps you assumed an employee would be a good leader based on one of the factors above, or maybe you believed that you were a good leader just because you fit the criteria. Be honest with yourself about what you think a leader is.

Then, determine how much influence you have over people. Maxwell measures influence in seven areas: character, relationships, knowledge, intuition, experience, past success, and ability. All of these factors combined affect how much influence you have. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for each element and see where you need to improve.

As you work on becoming a better leader yourself, look for those positive factors in your employees. Leaders come in many different varieties. Find the people in your firm that powerfully influence others and give them a forum to exert even more influence. They are the leaders that will help you take your company to the next level.

By learning from the leaders in and outside of your organization, you can become a better leader yourself. Fill out my contact form for a free video call to help enhance your leadership skills.

Coach Dave


For more information on John C. Maxwell and why I like this book so much, watch the video below.

To read more articles in my “Laws of Leadership” series, click here.

John Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: An Introduction

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Dave Schoenbeck

Dave Schoenbeck

Dave Schoenbeck is a professional business and executive coach who translates complex business methods, processes, and strategies into actionable plans to dramatically improve financial results.
Dave Schoenbeck

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