Is leadership about authority or influence?  Does the real leader hold the position or the power?  Are they running the meeting or leading the people?  How can you make sure you are truly leading?  Follow the laws of leadership and you can’t go wrong.

There are a lot of books out there that talk about leadership but the one that I have gone back to time and again is “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”  by John C. Maxwell.  This book was recommended to me by a work colleague and he said it is the best book you’ll ever read on leadership because it covers everything.  I thought really 21 laws are you kidding me isn’t there just a top 5 list that I can look at and be done with it all – and he said no – Leadership is not easy and as the world around us becomes more complicated so do the types of skills, values and behaviors that you need to be able to tap into to truly lead.  I tap into the laws in this book all of the time depending on the situation and it has been a great resource.

Here are the 4 that I tap into in different situations:

The Law of Influence – leading through influence versus authority – think Princess Diana versus Prince Charles.  Using authority may be faster but it does not have staying power.  True leadership cannot be assigned or appointed it must be earned.  A title can buy you time to either increase your level of influence with others or erase it…practicing the law of influence is critical to being a good leader today.

The Law of Navigation – Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart a course.  There were two explorers in 1911 who wanted to be first to the South Pole and one leader and their crew survived and the other did not – why?  Because one charted a course with all of the details planned from supplies, to capability of the crew, to rest stops and the other did not.  In business taking the time to think through a plan is critical for success think Target launching in Canada and Tim Horton’s expanding further into the US.  Did they chart a course or just steer a ship?  Taking the time up front to think through the strategy is the right thing to do – solving the strategy through the execution is a costly endeavor.

The Law of Buy-in – People buy into the leader first, then the vision.  Maxwell states “that if people buy into the leader but not the vision get another vision and if people buy into the vision but not the leader get another leader”.  This happened to me with the brand and integrated fundraising project for a not-for-profit organization and we changed leaders midway through the project.  I was taken off the project to focus on another launch, a lottery product, and a new leader was brought on. The result – the project stalled and I had to come back to lead the project.  Clearly people had not only bought into the vision but also the leader.

The Law of Intuition – Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias – they learn to read the intangibles like:  the situation, the trends, the people, the resources, and themselves.  I had my best training on the law of intuition when I worked in advertising especially when working on a pitch.  A pitch involves completing against other agencies for a project or piece of business.  The law of intuition helped me to see the need for a change in leadership on the creative team, answer questions with candor and courage given the client’s culture and develop cheerleaders among the consultants assigned to a 90 day review for a piece of business. The law of intuition helped me to see what other’s could not and develop a strategy for success.

By understanding and tapping into these laws of leadership you can be ready for any situation. This is what they couldn’t teach you in business school….because you have to live it to get it.

Tune in every Thursday at 8am PST to Chat with Chicules: What They Couldn’t Teach You in Business School