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Law of Influence

The Law of InfluenceSgt Bardsley

The True Measurement of Leadership is Influence - Nothing More, Nothing Less’.

That is the Law of Influence defined.

Welcome to the second edition of The Laws of Leadership; if you want to change the world, read on.

Let me start by asking you a question: 

what does a leader look like?

Are they a strong warrior in an outstandingly decorated uniform; 

perhaps a politician on a pedestal with a fancy title?

Or rather, are they just someone who people listen to?

Because, the truth is: you can have a small stature but a big impact. In other words, you don’t need the decorated uniform, nor do you need the title, nor the pedestal. You just need to be influential.

I suppose the main aim of this law is to address a widespread misconception, or rather a series of misconceptions that each fall under one of these five myths: The Management Myth, The Entrepreneur Myth, The Knowledge Myth, The Pioneer Myth and The Position Myth.


The Management Myth

It is the illusion that leading and managing are one and the same. Leadership is about influencing people to follow. Management is logistics and putting out fires.

Managers are a little boy with a big dog. They see where the dog goes and then walk in that direction, under the false impression that they themselves are enacting change. A leader on the other hand is a steadfast body that guides the dog, instilling discipline and values and settling for nothing less.


The Entrepreneur Myth

Frequently people assume entrepreneurs are leaders. However we know from the Law of the Lid and the case of Dick and Maurice McDonald that that is not the case. 

The ideas don’t have to come from the leaders. 

The leadership doesn’t have to come from the people with the ideas.


The Knowledge Myth

Ex-Lord Chancellor of England Sir Francis Bacon is quoted as saying, “Knowledge is Power”. Which is true, but whilst knowledge can be an invaluable asset, it must never be understated that there are many wonderfully intelligent University researchers with not a single shred of leadership ability and there are also many successful CEOs who failed academically. The attributes of ‘Knowledgeable’ and ‘Natural Leader’ are not necessarily linked.


The Pioneer Myth

You might be that person who comments, “first” on a YouTube post. I would argue that that is not necessarily indicative of being a leader. A leader does not need to be the loudest nor do they need to be at the front. 

We have all heard the story of Sir Edmund Hillary, who scaled Mt Everest in 1958. He was first. But was he a leader? It could be argued he was influential as many people followed him, however, he was just first to ‘plant the standard where a flag never flew’ so to speak. He wasn’t even the leader on his expedition.

To be a leader you must not only be out in front but also have others following behind, in line with your vision.

Being a trendsetter does not equal being a leader.

Our very own Warrant Officer Barker told me, that there is a great amount of respect in silent workhorses. Those who lead from the back. Those who are not glory grabbers. Put simply: you don’t have to be ‘that guy.’


The Position Myth

This is a really easy one. It is simply that the rank does not make the person but rather the person, the rank.

An inexperienced Abraham Lincoln in 1832 assumed the rank of Captain in the US Army. He led a company as a junior officer but failed so unbelievably that by the end of the war he served in, he was a Private. He was not influential among his men and therefore was not an effective leader. He was just, at the time, a clueless man with a rank slide.

He had too soon been propelled up the ranks and it favoured nobody, least of all him. As after spending due time as a private he overcame his inability to influence and would later go on to become the President of the United States.


The point made is, a leader is not defined by:

  • being a manager

  • their innovations

  • solely what they know

  • being the first to do something

  • their rank

They are defined by their ability to influence the actions of others.

Thank you for getting this far. I hope you have enjoyed the second edition of The Laws of Leadership. If you have any questions: feel free to ask.

We now understand what makes a leader.

And I just want to leave you with one final, mildly funny leadership proverb:

He who thinks he leads but has no followers is only taking a walk.”


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