What makes a great leader? How does an individual not only pursue a goal but convince others to pursue it with him? As the founder of a company, and the co-founder of a family, I have learned that no group of individuals can survive, let alone thrive, without good leadership. And one of the best books I’ve read on the topic is John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. These laws address the nature of leadership, of leaders, and of followers, and are essential knowledge for anyone hoping to lead a group toward a single and collective goal—whether that group is a family, a group of friends, a church, or a business.
People tend to take good leadership for granted since there are few occasions when a bad leader finds himself in a leadership position; few people know what bad leadership looks like. Because of this, most people don’t put much thought into the nature of leadership. First and foremost, leadership is a process—not a goal. The interaction between leaders and follows occurs minute-by-minute and is a continuing process of learning and developing (Law #3 – The Law of Process). Leadership depends on momentum; just as it is easier to push a rolling car, it is easier to push a group when there is already momentum to be found (#16 – The Law of Big Mo). And as the group grows and progresses, it will do so more rapidly with more leaders. Many people in leadership positions only lead followers; the best leaders lead other leaders so that the group can grow exponentially (Law #20 – The Law of Explosive Growth).
Many of the best leaders have an innate understanding of these laws. They have an intuitive leadership bias (Law #8 – The Law of Intuition). They see the world with a leadership bias and process information differently than people who follow. This isn’t to say leaders are born and not made, but simply that some people will have an easier time of it and the very best will naturally find themselves in leadership positions. These people will assert themselves, which others find an attractive quality when deciding whom to follow (Law #7 – The Law of Respect), and their personal characters will determine the kinds of people they attract in the first place (Law #9 – The Law of Magnetism).
While leaders typically have an intuitive understanding of what makes good leadership, they often don’t understand the nature of their followers. This can impede some leaders from continual growth as their followers get sick of them and leave to find a more accommodating leader. Followers needs to have a positive example set for them (Law #2 – The Law of Influence) and need to be guided toward purposeful action. They often need leaders to help bring out the best in themselves, to let each individually contribute to the group’s success (Law #5 – The Law of Addition). Finally, they need to respect the leader and buy into the leader as an individual. Only then will they proceed to buy into that leader’s overall vision (Law #14 – The Law of the Buy-in).
We only touched on a handful of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership here. If you’re interested in learning about all of them, be sure to check out this week’s show in the online archive, and pick up Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. These laws are as applicable to households as to businesses, and I believe everyone can benefit from learning them, practicing them, and mastering them.
12-27-2014 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership