The Law of Influence

The true major of leadership is influence — nothing more, nothing less. — John C. Maxwell
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Reflections on John C. Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”
Leadership ability depends on your level of influence. If you do not have influence, no one will follow you. Think of a leader that has influenced you throughout your life — a parent, spouse, boss, or sports coach. You willingly followed them or listened to their advice because they influenced you. You trusted their words because you could measure out their weight in personal experience.

Positive or Negative

Leadership influence is either going to be positive or negative. You may have every intention for your actions to be viewed as positive, but they may be harming the people you are influencing.

Growing up as an older brother, it was my responsibility to be a positive influence on my siblings. We grew up in a household that was fueled by addiction. It was my mission to keep my brother and sister away from that world, especially when domestic tensions were present. Even though I became a role model for my siblings by avoiding drug use; I was not able to shape the course of their lives. Because I never held “real” influence over them. I was too worried about myself — leading myself out of this hole — that their peers influenced my brother and sister. They established closer relationships with friends. I have always felt guilty about this because influence is a responsibility.


The Law of Influence can be seen in the show Fosse/Verdon about the creatively dynamic duo of choreographer/director Bob Fosse and his wife, four-time Tony Award-winning actress, Gwen Verdon.

During Fosse’s first week onset of his film Cabaret, he was in a quarrel with the film’s producer over creative design. The producer could not understand Fosse’s “dark” take on the show and was ready to fire him. As the director, Fosse knew his inability to communicate his vision limited his influence. He flew his wife Gwen to Germany to oversee the production with the underlying purpose of bringing the real influencer to set.

Verdon immediately explained Fosse’s vision to the producer, ignited her husband’s confidence, and changed the tone of the production. Having a highly respected actress on set validated Fosse and people followed him because the real influencer believed in his vision.

The StoryTether

To be a leader is to be an influencer. A leader’s ability to communicate vision, drive purpose, and rally towards change will depend on their ability to influence others. If you are weak in this arena, then do as Bob Fosse did — marry the influencer.

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