“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.”- George Eliot
John C. Maxwell in his book “The 21 Refutable Laws of Leadership” states the second law is the Law of Influence; he explains that, one does not have to have a position/title to be a leader- it is the power of influence that makes one a leader.
He clarifies this by examples of Princess Diane Spencer and Mother Teresa and how both had a positive impact to the community than our world leaders. To summarize this law, John C. Maxwell stated that, “The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
Influence is the capacity or power or ability to have an effect on the character, development and behavior of someone. This is affecting the action, decision, opinion and or thinking. In simple terms, it is getting someone to do what you want them to do.
Both leadership and influence are linked to power, and to understand power the best theory behind this is the French and Raven’s Five Forms of Power in 1959.
Social Psychologists John French and Bertram Raven described them as follows:
This power comes from the belief that a person has the formal right to make demand and to expect others to comply and obey. This type of power is unstable and unpredictable, when one loses his title or position the power disappears, the influence is on the position rather than with the person and examples are political positions and political appointed positions.
This power is gained when one has the ability to compensate, the influence is what one will gain to follow. This type of power does not last long if one is not able to deliver what was promised. Initially the impact is huge as the deliverable are being promised and the expectations are high. When the expectations go down the influence fades away.
This power is based on the high level of skills and knowledge held by the leader. When one has knowledge and skills that is capable to understand the situation and give sound guidance, solutions and judgement, he/she is able to build trust and respect which contribute largely to the amount of influence exhibited. This power is also related to upheld values and integrity of the leader.
This power is related to people liking or respecting and identifying with the person’s way of life. This power is used by celebrities to influence people; celebrities have the ability of affecting, buying and even supporting politicians. This power can easily be abused if the person having this power does not have integrity and honesty.
This is using the power of punishment to influence, it involves fear and loss of something important. The leader uses the power of threats and punishment and hence instilling fear to influence.
After 6 years Raven introduced the sixth power, as stated below;
We all know that information is power, this power is not derived from having the information but it is to have access to the information that others cannot access. With this type of power, having information can be used to assist others or as a weapon or as a negotiation tool.
As leaders and potential leaders we need to evaluate how we use our power to influence others and how our leadership influences us.
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination” – Nelson Mandela