Sorry, Maxwell… Leadership isn’t Influence

Stop Looking for Influence to Validate Your Leadership

Arvell Craig


Over 20 years ago I learned that Leadership was Influence, but now I’m questioning the premise. In the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell created a masterful book that thousands of individuals and companies have followed as the gospel of leadership. However, this week I realized a flaw in the concept.

The Gap Between Action and Influence is Wide

My issue with the simple synonymity of leadership being influence is how it limits one's leadership to the results or responses from others. In today’s world where millions of people live behind their keywords and interact in the virtual world, dreaming of impacts and imparting wisdom and beauty, the gap between their actions and influence is significant and wide.

How many of us are writing blogs, publishing podcasts, posting videos, or sending emails with little to no idea of our recipients’ thoughts or feelings?

How many of us assume that the lack of likes, comments, or sales indicates that our actions are of little to no consequence?

For me, this was not conscious. It was unspoken and brooding. A silent but insidious attack on my confidence because of the seemingly missing signs of influence.

But as I continue to publish and post ideas… as I make offers, create programs, and ask questions, I get flickers of engagement and response.

I realized this week that some people, even many people are WATCHING and WAITING for you to lead. They follow silently. They give no sign that you are influencing them and sadly…

if you are waiting for acknowledgement before you feel you are leading, you will miss out.

Don’t wait for influence.

Leadership isn’t just about the recognizable influence. It’s about initiation and being an example. It’s taking action regardless if anyone follows immediately. There’s often a lag in influence. Weeks, months, or years can go by before you recognize the momentum of what you’re building.

Leadership relates to influence, but it’s not synonymous.

Let your doing (leading) be connected to your being.

Lead from your heart. Your values. Your identity and purpose which are not seasonal or trendy based on popular response. Don’t get distracted by looking for influence, choose to keep on leading, creating, and living.

Create a Great Day!



Arvell Craig

As AI invades every area of society, I'm choosing to positively and proactively learn, leverage, and integrate it for personal and professional growth.