When the REAL leader speaks, people listen. It often happens in life that a leader is not necessarily in a position of leadership. We need to get to know the leaders in our team so that we can empower them and use them to lead. This is also why we develop our own leadership skills. As we become the person of influence, our ability to command respect increases and we develop the ability to lead others.

When I first heard of the Law of EF Hutton, I thought this guy must be famous.  It is actually not a person, it’s a company.  In the 70’s EF Hutton had adverts on TV and radio with the punchline: “when EF Hutton talks, people listen.”  It should be the Law of the REAL Leader.  When the real leader talks, people listen.  To support this, let me tell you a story.

A friend of mine was appointed as CEO of a local company.  He was brought in from the outside and called his first meeting.  As he worked through the agenda, there was very little interaction.  At the end of the meeting, the last point on the agenda was “General”.  His COO asked if he could say a few things and as this guy started to speak, the energy in the room shifted.  Suddenly everyone was making notes and listening.  My friend realized at that moment who the real leader was.  He did not try to fight it.  He knew he still had to earn his stripes in the company.  He knew people had to get to know him and respect him, but he also knew that he had an advantage in having this COO as a leader in the company.  He knew he could use that.  So he empowered his COO.  He supported him and he used the COO’s influence to get things done.  My friend is a strong, successful leader because he does not feel threatened by other strong leaders.  Instead, he feels enthused by them.

When you move into a position of leadership, you need to fill that role.  Step up and live like the leader you were created to be.  Margaret Thatcher once said: “Being a leader is like being a lady.  If you have to tell people you are, then you aren’t”.

It is important to understand that a leader must earn the role.  Sometimes you get a position, but you do not necessarily have the attention of the people in the room.  That is the difference between the real leader and the positional leader.  The positional leader will try to lead the agenda, he will speak first.  The real leader, though, will speak when he feels he needs to speak.  The positional leader needs the real leader’s influence to get things done, whereas the real leader only needs his own influence to get things done.  Thirdly, a positional leader only influences other positional leaders.  Real leaders influence everyone.

Sometimes a room is dominated by the “loudest” voice in the room.  If a group of strangers gets together, it is the most confident person who is often recognized as the early leader.  However, when people start getting to know each other, it is the real leader (who might be more quiet and reserved) who will be given the leadership responsibility.  People naturally recognize leadership and revert to the person who is the strongest leader.  You pick it up by watching the eyes in the room.  Who does everyone listen to?  Whose opinion matters?  That is your leader.  Identify, empower and employ that person.

Leadership is earned.  People will not initially follow anyone.  When the team is formed and people get to know each other, the real leader rises to the top.  You earn leadership in the following ways:

  1. With your character. You have to live like the person you want to be.  People will follow an authentic leader.  BE true to yourself.  Who you are is more important than what you know.
  2. Through relationship. A good leader builds relationships with the people in the team.  Good leaders get to know the people in the team and earn the right to speak into their lives.
  3. What you know gives you a standing.  People respect leaders who know things.  If you do not know something in a specific field, find the leaders who do have knowledge in that area and allow them to take the lead.
  4. Your “gut-feel” guides you as a leader.  You follow your instinct and make decisions that you feel is right.  My mom often used to say: “Let the peace in your heart be the judge”.
  5. We learn by doing.  And as we do things we learn for the future.  My experience provides the compass for the future when I am in a similar situation.  People start respecting you because of the track record you’ve earned.  Linked to that is the success you’ve achieved.
  6. Can you do the job?  This is the final way how you earn the right to lead.

If you apply these different components to your life, you will earn the right to lead and people will start following you.

It is also very important for a leader to recognize and identify other leaders.  If you are secure in your identity as a leader, you will not feel threatened by other strong leaders in your team.  Instead, you will feel inspired and motivated.  Strong leaders understand that we need other strong leaders around us.  None of us are perfect.  We all have weaknesses.  It is therefore crucial that I surround myself with people who are strong in my areas of weakness.  The more strong leaders I have in my team, the stronger my team will be.  It is just extremely important that I clearly define the roles and responsibilities in that scenario.  You don’t want strong leaders to overlap into each other’s areas of responsibility – that causes conflict.  We will discuss this concept in more detail at a later stage when we talk about the Law of the Inner Circle.

It’s important to identify the “EF Hutton” in our team and allow that person’s influence to help the team.  As the leader, I must find the person that ever listens to.  If I get this person on my side and make sure this person drives our processes, the team becomes unstoppable.  You want to have an EF Hutton in your team and you must be a strong enough leader not to be threatened by it.  Because if you prevent that person from “running” at full speed as a leader, you become the Lid in that person’s life.

Finally, I want to urge each of you to become EF Hutton in your own life.  You must take the lead in your life.  You must take yourself seriously first.  As you become confident in who you are, you have more of an impact on the lives of others.


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