I recently finished listening to The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell and wanted to share a few of the most interesting laws from it. John Maxwell is a renowned author on leadership and former Pastor. He has significant experience leading churches, which as he explains, are even harder to lead than businesses because everyone is a volunteer; nobody’s getting paid to be there.
The book is very concise and easy to follow with great information and examples, and a clear action plan for each law. Some of my favorite concepts are below.
- Law #1 – The Law of the Lid. – John Maxwell opens his book with the Law of the Lid, and I wanted to start with it as well. It’s a concept that is somewhat well known outside of the book as well but worth mentioning, as it justifies the reason for learning the additional leadership laws. The law states that you can only be as effective as your leadership skills allow. Without strong leadership skills, your potential for effectiveness will be limited. While it seems like common sense, without the ability to influence others you can only get 1 person worth of work done (that’s your maximum or your lid), whereas with many people (10 for example), you can get 10 times the amount of work accomplished. Assuming your task is a worthwhile cause, the ability to produce 10 times the results raised your lid more than you could ever accomplish on your own, no matter how hard you worked toward the goal. Your effectiveness will be limited by your ability to influence and motivate others to contribute to your goal.
- Law #4 – The Law of Navigation. – As Maxwell phrases it “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.” Careful planning and a clear vision are crucial when you set out to chart a course. There are innumerable obstacles that you may encounter on the journey, and being prepared for them is the difference between success and failure. It involves paying attention to the details, while being able to still focus on the long term vision and direction. The Law of Navigation requires that as a leader you look ahead to the possible conditions you may encounter, and plan the course accordingly, or as I like to think of it – Think Forward and Work Backward. So, where are you headed? Have you charted your course, or are you being tossed from wave to wave, traveling wherever the current takes you?
- Law #20 – The Law of Explosive Growth. – The law of explosive growth is partially linked to the law of the lid. If one leader is only as effective as the sum of those he can lead, then the only way to increase the effectiveness further, is to lead leaders. By leading, mentoring, and developing other leaders who can then themselves develop leaders and attract followers, you build upon their ability to lead, exponentially growing your potential for effectiveness. It’s a similar concept to a sales marketing pyramid scheme, but if it’s toward a worthwhile goal, it is a wonderful strategy for growth and results. Leadership is not a zero sum game, everyone can benefit from strong leadership, and learning to develop that skill in others is even more important than developing it in yourself.
The most interesting law to me, was the last law, the Law of Legacy. I am planning to write a separate post regarding that law, as it’s recently become more relevant and thought provoking to me, and hopefully will be to you as well.
While I would highly recommend the book, it brought to mind a few questions and thoughts. He focuses on top leaders, CEO’s, senior pastors, etc but I think it applies at every level and can be effectively used by each of us. In some area of your personal or work life you lead at least 1 person (in addition to leading yourself), and these 21 laws can be applied to improve the effectiveness of your leadership, as well as the motivation and development of those you lead. I believe this is an important distinction because it helps answer the question “Can everyone be a leader? Should everyone be a leader?” While it’s obvious that if everyone was the CEO and nobody did the work we’d never get anything done, everyone can be a leader to some degree within their organizations, community, families, worthwhile causes, and churches.
What are your thoughts and experiences on leadership? Do you agree everyone can/should be a leader in some aspect of their lives? What are you leading? What could you take the lead on? Do you agree with the leadership laws, or have anything to add? Leave a comment below with your discussion.