The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is a book by Dr. John Maxwell wherein he summarizes the leadership characteristics that he has learned over more than 30 years. People continually asked Dr. Maxwell, “If you could take everything you’ve learned in all your years of training in leadership and boil it down to a short list what would it be? ” The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is his answer to that question. In this book, Dr. Maxwell communicates each law very clearly and explains it in a way that is easy to understand and remember. Because it is easy to remember the 21 laws, the book even more valuable.
Even after reading the book, I still remember key laws that I should be working at on a daily basis. The stories that Dr. Maxwell tells in the book helped me understand how each of these laws will assist me in becoming a leader that people want to follow. The stories of great leaders like Ray Kroc of McDonald’s, President Roosevelt and Princess Diana add clarity to the 21irrefutable laws. Dr. Maxwell makes each person’s life story a journey into leadership excellence. He shows how they each achieved great success in relation to one or more of the 21 laws and made a positive impact in the lives of people.
For this book review, I will summarize each of the 21 laws, reveal my score from the leadership evaluation and state its relevance to my life or ministry. The Law of the Lid: “Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 1). Leadership ability is always the lib on personal and organizational effectiveness. Whatever needs to be accomplished in an organization is limited by leadership ability. Personal and organizational effectiveness is proportionate to the strength of leadership. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a five.
My ability as a leader will limit or place a lid on my personal growth and the growth of the organization I lead. Our church will not rise beyond the level of my leadership ability. I need to work on enlisting the help of others when I am faced with challenges and relinquish the ‘I’ll do it myself attitude. ’ The Law of Influence: “The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 11). If you don’t have influence you will never lead others. The true test of a leader is to ask him to create positive change in an organization.
A person that cannot create change, cannot lead. Being a leader is not about being first, or being an entrepreneur or being the most knowledgeable, or being a manager. 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. To redirect followers they must be influenced to changed course.
My leadership evaluation score in this area is an eight. Although this score is high, I can improve by being more directive with certain people. My leadership is not based upon the position of Senior Pastor; my leadership is based on my ability to influence people. Two of the misconceptions about leadership that apply to me are: The Management Myth and The Entrepreneur Myth. There are key leadership skills I need to be a great leader as the Senior Pastor, but lacking them as an entrepreneur did not prove detrimental to my success. The Law of Process: ‘Leadership develops daily, not in a day” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 3). Leadership is learned over time, it is the capability to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers. Successful leaders are learners. What matters most is what you do day by day over the long haul. Growth is a process and there are five phases in the process: 1. I don’t know what I don’t know; 2. I know that I need to Know; 3. I know what I don’t know; 4. I know and grow and it starts to show; 5. I simply go because of what I know. People skills, emotional strength, vision, momentum, and timing are all areas that can and should be learned.
Becoming a leader is a lot like investing in the stock marker. If you hope is to make a fortune in a day, you’re not going to be successful. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a four. I have to develop a concrete specific plan for personal growth that I engage weekly. I have taken the initiative and developed a relationship with a Senior Pastor who has agreed to meet with me monthly for mentoring. The Law of Navigation: “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 35 ). Leaders have a vision for their destination, they understand what it will take to get there.
The leader knows who they’ll need on the team to be successful, and they recognize the obstacles long before they appear on the horizon. A leader will also see obstacles before others do. A leader sees more, sees farther, and sees before others. Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Vision is defined as the ability to see the whole trip before leaving the dock. A navigator (leader) listens – he finds out about grassroots level reactions. Navigators balance optimism with realism. Preparation is the key to good navigation. It’s not the size of the project; it’s the size of the leader that counts.
My leadership evaluation score in this area is a four. I need to spot problems, obstacles, and trends that will impact the outcome of initiatives the organization puts into place. I need help to clearly see the pathway for the implementation of the vision, including not only the process but also the people and resources needed. The Law of Addition: “Leaders ad value to by serving others” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 47). The interaction between every leader and follower is a relationship, and all relationships either ad to or subtract from a person’s life. Human beings are naturally selfish.
Bing an adder requires me to get out of my comfort zone every day and think about adding value to others. Adding value through service doesn’t just benefit the people being served. The leader also reaps great rewards. Albert Einstein, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1921, asserted, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living. ” My leadership evaluation score in this area is an 8. When I add value to people, I lift them up, help them advance, make them a part of something bigger than themselves, and help them in become who they God made to be. The Law of Addition replaced the Law of E. F.
Hutton, which stated, “When the real leader speaks, people listen. ” I learned some valuable information from this replaced law. Don’t listen to the claims of the person professing to be the leader. Instead, watch the reactions of the people around him. The proof of leadership is found in the followers. When real leaders speak, people automatically listen. Conversely, in any group or church, you can identify the real leaders by looking for those who people listen to. Look for the existing real leaders and work to have influence there. The Law of Solid Ground: “Trust is the foundation of leadership” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 1). To build trust, a leader must exemplify these qualities: competence, connection, and character. Character makes trust possible and trust makes leadership possible. Trust is the foundation for all effective leadership. When it comes to leadership you can’t take shortcuts, no matter how long you’ve been leading your people. Building trust requires competence, connection and character. My leadership evaluation score in this area is an eight. I know the members trust my wife and me. I gave myself a two in the area of members confiding in me regarding sensitive issues.
Some female members turn to my wife, while other members are just very private. The Law of Respect: “People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 73). People don’t follow others by accident. They follow individuals whose leadership they respect. Followers are attracted to people who are better leaders than themselves. 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. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a seven.
I realized that people are naturally drawn to me for counsel especially in the areas finance, relationship and personal conflict. However, people are not just naturally drawn to me and want to spend time with me. I did not find the answer to resolving this area of weakness in the 21 Laws of Leadership. I believe many times I am too common with people. I am very transparent most of the time. There are only a few people who want to be around me all the time. The Law of Intuition: “Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 87). Leadership depends on more than just the facts.
Leaders see trends, resources and problems, and can read people. The law of intuition is based on facts plus instinct and other intangible factors. A leader has to read the situation and know instinctively what play to call. Leadership is more art than science. Natural ability and learned shills create an informed intuition that makes leadership issues jump out at leaders. Leaders who want to succeed maximize every asset and resource they have for the benefit of their organization. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a seven. Sometimes I do not take the correct action or I take no action so as not to cause harm.
I have to review and go back to redirect people. I like to get hard evidence before making decisions, I do not sense trends very well. I normally wait to see patterns develop before I determine a course of action. The Law of Magnetism: “Who you are is who you attract” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 103). Leaders are always on the lookout for good people. Who you attract is not determined by what you want, it is determined by who you are. In most situations, you draw people to you who possess the same qualities you do. The better leader you are, the better leaders you will attract. Leaders attract people like themselves.
Hire personnel in the area of your weaknesses. If you only attract followers, your organization will be weak. Work to attract leaders rather than followers if you want to build a truly strong organization. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a six. I have a lot of work to do in this area. I have many personal and professional improvements to make. The Law of Connection: “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 113). Effective leaders know that you first have to touch people’s hearts before you ask them for a hand. The heart comes before the hand.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. To connect with people in a group relate to them as individuals. It’s the leader’s job to initiate connection with the people. You must touch the heart before you ask people to follow. Communicate on the level of emotion first to make a personal connection. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a nine. Even though my score is high in this area, I always feel I could be doing more to connect with the members, especially the children. The Law of the Inner Circle: “A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 27). A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. All great leaders have surrounded themselves with a strong inner circle. The leader finds greatness in the group, and helps the members find it in themselves. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a five. I never saw a need to work on this area until recently. I had an entrepreneurial lone ranger and I can conquer the world attitude. Now all I think is, “can I please get some help. ” Building an inner circle is essential for me achieving my goal of helping people use and develop their gifts to glorify God.
The Law of Empowerment: “Only secure leaders give power to others” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 141). The people’s capacity to achieve is determined by their leader’s ability to empower. “The best executive is the one who has the sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it” Theodore Roosevelt. Only secure leaders give power to others. Mark Twain said, “Great things can happen when you don’t care who gets the credit. ” Great leaders gain authority by giving it away. My leadership evaluation score in this area is an eight. I need to embrace chance more asily. The Law of the Picture: “People do what people see” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 155). Great leaders always seem to embody two seemingly disparate qualities they are both visionary and highly practical. Their vision enables them to see beyond the immediate. They can envision what is coming and what must be done. Leaders possess an understanding of why; what; and how. Leaders effective modeling of the vision makes the picture come alive. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a seven. When the team members fail to perform at the level I expect, I must immediately examine myself before addressing the subject with them.
The Law of the Picture replaced The Law of Reproduction. “It takes a leader to raise up a leader. ” More than four out of every five of all leaders that you ever meet will have emerged as leaders because of the impact made on them by established leaders who mentored them. People cannot give to others what they themselves do not possess. The Law of Buy-In: “People buy into the leader, then the vision” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 169). The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader, and then the dream. People don’t first follow worthy causes.
They follow worthy leaders who promote worthwhile causes. People buy into the leader first, then the vision. If they don’t like the leader but like the vision, they get a new leader. If they don’t like the leader or the vision, they get a new leader. If they don’t like the vision but like the leader, they get a new vision. My leadership evaluation score in this area is an eight. In this area, I need to accurately explain and sell the vision to create buy-in. The Law of Victory: “Leaders find a way for the team to win” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 179). Victorious leaders possess an unwillingness to accept defeat.
The alternative to winning is totally unacceptable to them. My leadership evaluation score in this area is an eight. I completely identify with this “we must win” attitude. The Law of the Big Mo: “Momentum is a leader’s best friend (Maxwell, 2007, p. 193). You can’t steer a ship that isn’t moving forward. It takes a leader to create momentum. Followers catch it and managers are able to continue once it has begun. Creating momentum requires someone who can motivate others, not who needs to be motivated. Getting started is a struggle, but once you’re moving forward, you can really start to do some amazing things.
My leadership evaluation score in this area is a six. I need to initiate specific actions with a purpose of generating momentum when introducing something new or controversial. The Law of Priorities: “Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 207). Leaders must apply the Pareto Principle. Great leaders focus their attention on actions that are in the top 20 percent in terms of importance. This produces an 80 percent return on their efforts. Leaders ask three questions: 1. What is required? 2. What give the greatest return? 3. What brings the greatest reward?
My leadership evaluation score in this area is a seven. I need to set aside more time for planning. I need to avoid all activities that do not add value to my followers or do not produce a tangible return. The Law of Sacrifice: “A leader must give up to go up” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 219). Sacrifice is a constant in leadership. Leaders can’t take the time to think about themselves when other lives are affected by the decision they make. Successful leaders must maintain an attitude of sacrifice to turn around an organization. The higher the level of leadership, the greater the sacrifice.
My leadership evaluation score in this area is a nine. I expect to give more than my followers do in order to accomplish the vision. Even though I give more and expect to give more it very challenging. The Law of Timing: “When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 233). Only the right action at the right time will bring success. If a leader repeatedly shows poor judgment, even in little things, people start to think that having him, as the leader is the real mistake. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a five.
I need to expend as much effort figuring out the timing for an initiative as I do figuring out the strategy. The Law of Explosive Growth: “To add growth, lead followers – to multiply, lead leaders” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 245). To go to the highest level, you have to develop leaders of leaders. Becoming a leader who develops leaders requires an entirely different focus and attitude from simply attracting and leading followers, it takes a different mindset. Leadership development compounds the more you invest in people and the longer you do it, the greater the growth and the higher the return.
My leadership evaluation score in this area is a six. I need to spend a significant amount of time every week investing in the top 20 percent of my leaders. The Law of Legacy: “A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 257). Just as in sports a coach needs a team of good players to win, an organization needs a team of good leaders to succeed. A legacy is created only when a person puts his organization into the position to do great things without him. 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. My leadership evaluation score in this area is a nine. I believe the law of legacy may be my greatest strength. I possess a strong sense of why I am in my position and why I am leading. I identify the people who can carry on after me and I invest in them. There are two areas from the leadership evaluation that my score is rated in the weakness range. I scored a four on the law of process and a four on the law of navigation. These are two areas where it is recommended that I hire staff with this strength or partner with others who can provide me with assistance.
There are ten areas that I need to target for growth. I would highly recommend this book. It has practical leadership insights that I may apply immediately with just a little determination and foresight. It can be used to help me improve my leadership ability on a daily basis. I feel that this book is necessary reading for all Christian leaders. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership has helped me establish the basic leadership foundational principles. Internalizing these 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership will help me develop personally and enhance the development of my followers.