Are You a Leader or a Pretender? John Maxwell’s 21 Leadership Laws Reviewed

Below you will find a list of John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership from his world famous book along with a short description of what each law actually means. As you look through this list you can ask yourself, am I really a leader? Am I truly doing these things? If not, you may be just a pretender. In other words, someone who claims to be a leader but doesn’t actually make the sacrifices necessary (law #18)?  Take a look through this list and find out where you stand when it comes to leadership.

Leadership | John Maxwell

Are You a Leader or a Pretender? John Maxwell’s 21 Leadership Laws Reviewed

1. The Law of the lid
Your leadership is like a top or lid on your business or organization. Whatever it is your involved with will not rise beyond the level your leadership can take it to. That’s why when a corporation or team is having issues, they fire the leader.

2. The Law of Influence
Leadership is simply about influencing people. It’s really that simple. The real test of a leader is to ask him to develop positive change in an organization. If you cannot create change, you cannot lead. Being a leader is not about being first, or being an entrepreneur, or being the most smartest, or being a supervisor. Being a leader is not just holding a leadership position. “It’s not the position that makes a leader, but the leader who makes a position.” Positional leadership especially does not work in volunteer organizations. The very essence of all power to influence lies in getting the other person to participate. “He who thinks he leads , but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”

3. The Law of Process
Leadership is learned over a period of time. Yes, it can be learned. People skills, emotional strength, vision, momentum, and timing are all areas that can and should be learned. Leaders are always learners. That is the law of process.

4. The Law of Navigation
Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course! Vision is defined as the ability to see the entire trip before leaving the dock. A leader will also see obstacles before others do. A leader sees more, sees farther, and sees before others. A navigator (leader) listens – he finds out about grassroots level reactions. Navigators balance optimism with realism. Preparation is the key to the best navigation. “It’s not the size of the project, it’s the size of the leader that counts.”

5. The Law of E.F. Hutton
Hutton was America’s most influential stock market analyst. When he spoke, everyone listened, period. When real leaders speak, people automatically listen. Conversely, in any group, you can identify the real leaders by looking for those who people listen to. According to Margaret Thatcher, “being in power is like being a lady – if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Tips for a Positional leader – an example might be a newly appointed minister – who wants to become a REAL leader… look for the existing real leaders and work to have influence there. Factors involved in being accepted as a new real leader include character, building key relationships, information, intuition, experience, past success. and ability.

6. The Law of Solid Ground
Trust is the foundation for all effective leadership. When it comes to leadership, there are no shortcuts. Building trust requires competence, connection and character.

7. The Law of Respect
People naturally follow people stronger than themselves. Even natural leaders tend to fall in behind those who they sense have a higher “leadership quotient” than themselves. It all comes back to respect.

8. The Law of Intuition
Leaders evaluate everything with a Leadership bias. Leaders see trends, resources and problems, and can read people. They have a gut feeling that drives them and more times than not, it’s right.

9. The Law of Magnetism
Leaders attract people like themselves. Who you are is who you attract. Bird of a feather flock together. Work to attract leaders rather than followers if you want to build a truly strong organization.

10. The Law of Connection
You must touch the heart before you ask people to follow. Communicate on the level of emotion first to make a personal connection. This is crucial for a leader.

11. The Law of the Inner Circle
A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. Surround yourself with great people! “The leader finds greatness in the group, and helps the members find it in themselves.”

12. The Law of Empowerment
Only secure leaders give power to others. Mark Twain said, “Great things can happen when you don’t care who gets the credit.” In addition, “Great leaders gain authority by giving it away.”

13. The Law of Reproduction
It takes a leader to raise up a leader, it’s that simple. Followers can’t do it, and neither can institutional programs. “It takes one to know one, to show one, to grow one.” The potential of an organization depends on the growth of its leadership.

14. The Law of Buy-In
People buy in to the leader first, then the vision. If they don’t like the leader but like the vision, they get a new leader.

15. The Law of Victory
Leaders find a way for the team to win. “You can’t win WITHOUT good athletes, but you CAN lose with them.” Makes sense, right? Unity of vision, diversity of skills plus a leader are needed for the victory.

16. The Law of Momentum
You can’t steer a ship that isn’t moving forward. It takes a leader to create forward motion. This is so crucial if you are starting a business or as an entrepreneur. You must create the momentum, don’t rely on someone else.

17. The Law of Priorities
Activity is not necessarily accomplishment. It’s importance to understand the difference. “A leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells “Wrong Jungle!”  If you are a leader, you must learn the three “Rs” which are- a) what’s Required b) what gives the greatest Return c) what brings the greatest Reward. Each are important in their own right.

18. The Law of Sacrifice
A leader must give up to go up. Successful leaders must maintain an attitude of sacrifice to turn around an organization. One sacrifice seldom brings success. Lee Iacocca, as he worked to turn around the Chrysler Corporation,  slashed his own salary to $1 per year. Now that’s sacrifice! ”When you become a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself.” It’s no longer about you.

19. The Law of Timing
When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go and when to do it. Only the right action at the right time will bring the most success possible. Timing is key.

20. The Law of Explosive Growth
To add growth, lead followers. To multiply growth, lead leaders! “It is my job to build the people who are going to build the company.” While having followers can have it’s benefits, its raising up leaders where you’ll make waves.

21. The Law of Legacy
A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. “Leadership is the one thing you can’t delegate. You either exercise it – or abdicate it.” That is the law of legacy.

If you are looking to become a better leader, these 21 laws are the best possible thing that could have happened to you. John Maxwell is one of the great leaders walking the earth and having him write a book about leadership is incredibly valuable for all of us trying to be better leaders. I also wish you much success in your own personal journey and I hope this article offered you some real insight on what it truly takes to be a leader.

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