BY JOHN C. MAXWELL
“Many people view leadership the same way they view success, hoping to go as far as they can, to climb the ladder, to achieve the highest position possible for their talent. But contrary to conventional thinking, I believe the bottom line in leadership isn't how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others. That is achieved by serving others and adding value to their lives.”
The quote above sums up the foundation of the 21 laws and the philosophy behind them. Based on 40 years of leadership and the observations of successful leaders in business, politics, sports, and other industries, these principles are the core elements of being a leader. The laws are based on the premise that leadership is not just about a business or organization, but also about self-development and the development of others.
1. The Law of the Lid
- The ability to lead determines a person’s level of effectiveness.
- That level of effectiveness is the “lid” on personal and organizational development.
- The level of the leader always determines the level of the organization and the effectiveness of his followers.
2. The Law of Influence
- Influence determines the effectiveness of a leader.
- Effective leadership is not determined by a title or tenure, but by how much influence the leader has with others.
- The ability to influence others will determine success or failure for the leader and the organization.
3. The Law of Process
- There are no “born leaders.”
- Part of the effectiveness of a leader is the time and commitment they put into developing their skills.
- Leadership is a skill that can be learned and developed over time.
- Leaders must be willing to commit to the sometimes long process of learning leadership skills to become an influential leader.
4. The Law of Navigation
- Leaders must be the navigators for their organizations.
- Beginning with a vision, or destination, leaders must plot the course and prepare for any obstacles.
- Leaders keep everything on course to make it easy for followers to know where they are going.
5. The Law of E.F. Hutton
- When a real leader speaks, people listen.
- A leader can be identified by his ability to get others to listen.
- Leadership is only as effective as the followers who are willing to listen to the vision.
6. The Law of Solid Ground
- Effective leaders must lead from a solid foundation.
- Leaders must have the trust of their followers, and this trust can only be developed by exhibiting character, competence, and connection.
7. The Law of Respect
- Most people will willingly follow someone that they respect.
- By showing respect for others, and themselves, leaders position themselves as someone worthy to lead.
- Even with great competence and ability, a leader without respect will never be effective.
“When people respect you as a person, they admire you. When they respect you as a friend, they love you. When they respect you as a leader, they follow you.”
8. The Law of Intuition
- Leaders have to know the vision, facts, obstacles, and other elements that affect an organization.
- But they must also learn to rely on intuition to be the most effective.
- Leadership is more art than science, and the ability to read people or a specific situation requires experience and instinct.
9. The Law of Magnetism
- We attract people who are most like us.
- Leaders naturally attract followers who reflect their values and their vision.
- By developing the skills of an effective leader, that leader will find followers who will eventually be leaders themselves.
10. The Law of Connection
- Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.
- People don’t care how much a leader knows until they know how much that leader cares.
- Leaders find ways to connect with people before they ask them to follow.
11. The Law of the Inner Circle
- Leaders never lead alone.
- All effective leaders rely on a strong inner circle that shares their vision and values.
- A leader's effectiveness is determined by those closest to him and their ability to influence followers.
12. The Law of Empowerment
- A true leader isn't afraid to give some of the power away.
- The achievements of a leader's followers are determined by the leader's ability to empower them and show their trust in them.
- Leaders have to lead, but they also know that sometimes they just have to get out of the way.
13. The Law of Reproduction
- All organizations need to foster and develop leaders.
- An effective leader mentors others by sharing their knowledge, creating future leaders that will be critical to the growth of the organization.
- Great leaders are also great teachers.
“The bottom line in leadership isn't how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.”
14. The Law of Buy-In
- People must be committed to a vision or cause to have an impact.
- The only way to get followers to “buy-in” to an idea or vision is to have them first “buy-in” to the leader.
- The influence and passion of the leader will determine the investment people are willing to make.
15. The Law of Victory
- Leaders understand the importance of unity in their followers.
- By developing an atmosphere of teamwork, leaders can create wins for their team as opposed to individual wins.
- When a team wins together, they become more unified and committed to the cause.
16. The Law of the Big Mo
- Leaders create momentum and focus on helping others keep that momentum going.
- It's simply impossible to further a vision or cause without moving forward.
- Leaders know how to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling.
17. The Law of Priorities
- Leaders understand that activity doesn't necessarily result in production.
- Effective leaders have the ability to determine the most important priorities and know how to help their followers focus on those priorities.
18. The Law of Sacrifice
- Leaders inevitably have to make sacrifices to be a good leader.
- A leader makes sacrifices on the path to leadership and must be willing to sacrifice things to effectively lead.
- Sacrifice is a constant in leadership.
19. The Law of Timing
- Leaders understand that the trust their followers have in them is largely based on the leader's actions.
- A good leader understands that the right choice at the wrong time or the wrong choice at the right time can dilute their influence.
- Effective leaders learn how to develop their “timing” to make the best decisions possible.
20. The Law of Explosive Growth
- Organizations can only grow with effective leadership.
- Leaders understand the importance of not only having followers but also the importance of developing future leaders for continuing growth.
21. The Law of Legacy
- A leader’s legacy is measured by the future leaders he develops and how effectively the organization operates without him.
- Leaders understand that the greatest contributions they make are the ones that outlive their reign.