The Seven Laws of Leadership

Published on 19th January 2016

There are seven laws of leadership that will be briefly reviewed in this article. The first law of leadership is: A leader must have people to lead. In one of my postings on my Facebook page I wrote the following: “A leader is a specialist in only one commodity: PEOPLE. A leader may need technical or professional or communication or intellectual or otherwise skills only in as far as it is necessary in the management of people.” A leader must have one person or a group of people he or she is leading. Lao Tzu puts it simply, “If you fail to honor your people, they will fail to honor you.”

The second law of leadership is: A leader influences a person or people. Someone said, “You can’t lead without influence, and you can’t have influence if you’re not a leader.” Following the first law, if a leader has people but is not influencing them in a particular direction, he or she is not a leader. John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence.” Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.” And Niccolò Machiavelli once said, “And he who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.”

The third law of leadership is: A leader influences people to do what they may not want to do.” If we are talking in terms of demand, the third law is more demanding that the first two. People are predisposed to moving in a particular direction – even without a leader. That is why the Proverb author was very intrigued by the ants. To get people to move in a particular direction or achieve a particular goal is a quintessence of true leadership. To keep people on the trail or trajectory they have been before you is called management or to be lackadaisical, it is maintenance leadership, not visionary leadership. It takes influence to get people to do what they do not want to do.

The fourth law of leadership is: A leader influences people to like to do what they did not want to do. We noticed above that a leader influences people to do what they might have not wanted to do. A leader moves even further; they influence people to like the things they did not want to do in the first place. In short, a leader influences vision and provides purpose to a process. Under a leader, people do not just work; they begin to enjoy work. People do not just invent; they enjoy being inventive. People do not just create; they enjoy being creative. People do not just join the army; they love to be in the army and so on. But it is because of the deliberate action of the leader – his vision, skills and know-how and the dexterity he engenders to bring about the desired outcome. Joel Barker is on point when he says that, “A leader is a person you will follow to a place you would not go by yourself.” And again Dwight D. Eisenhower is right when he says, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” If you can reach this level, you are a great leader.

The fifth law of leadership is: A leader influences people who love what they do and do those things well and achieve meaningful results. Here the scale moves another step up. Ronald Reagan said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” In other words, a leader gives people the inspiration to achieve. When people achieve great results, the leader has also achieved greatly through them. It was Henry Kissinger who said that, “The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been.” As hinted under law number three, if the people remain just around where they have always been, leadership has failed. Leaders move their people from a position of non-performance to performance, from meaningless to meaningfulness, and from expectations to meeting and exceeding the expectations.

The sixth law of leadership is: A leader acquires the necessary skills to better influence people. A leader can go to lengths and depths to acquire the right skills to better lead. A true leader is not afraid to try, but in trying he is providing the chance for the led to be well served. This law requires leaders to make decisions all the time. It requires leaders to be perpetual learners and students of life. Because they are adept at improving themselves, great leader can harness current and agile skills to better lead others. In short, a good leader does not stop learning in order that he or she can make important decisions. Some of the skills leaders learn in order to lead well are that you cannot please everybody; that as Lao Tzu said, “It is said of a good leader that when the work is done, the aim fulfilled, the people will say, ‘We did this ourselves’;” that they ought to follow their hearts because they will be criticized anyway; to distinguish right counsellors; to know when not to talk; to share pain and not inflict it on others; and to be a step ahead of their followers, all the time. This entails investment in reading, observation and experimentation. That is why no-one can be a great leader if they are not a reader!

The seventh law of leadership is: A leader creates a chain of influence.A leader does something that continues their leadership – so that the results obtained can keep going on. A leader whose absence is felt once they leave or die has failed. A great leader’s absence should not be felt because they have the ability to groom men and women similar to them. The ultimate measure of a person’s leadership is not if they groomed leaders just like them, it is that those they groomed become better than them at leading. Martha Peak had a saying that, “My father had a simple test that helps me measure my own leadership quotient: When you are out of the office he once asked me, does your staff carry on remarkable well without you?” If they do, you have succeeded as a leader. If they don’t, you have failed. It is, therefore, not leadership to produce more followers; a leader produces more and better leaders than he or she was!

Here again are the seven laws of leadership: (1) A leader must have people to lead; (2) A leader influences a person or people; (3) A leader influences people to do what they may not want to do; (4) A leader influences people to like to do what they did not want to do; (5) A leader influences people who love what they do and do those things well and achieve meaningful results; (6) A leader acquires the necessary skills to better influence people; and (7) A leader creates a chain of influence.

Whether you are a leading a home, a club, a classroom, a church, a province or a nation, these seven laws are inevitable.

By Charles Mwewa
Author of The Seven Laws of Influence.

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