May 23


What can you learn from ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’ by John Maxwell (2007, 268 pages)

There has always been something alluring about a list.  A quick online search reveals a huge number of leadership articles with lists.  For example:

12 Things You Can Do Starting Today to Be a Better Leader

50 Simple Things You Can Do To Be A Real Leader

4 Simple Things You Can Do To Be A Better Leader

6 Things Great Leaders Do Differently

4 Things You Will Never See Great Leaders Do

However, there are disadvantages to creating a list.  Deciding what to include and what to leave out, is often arbitrary.  As a list grows in length, it is also more difficult to remember and prioritise.  Complex topics, such as leadership, make lists even more dangerous, as they offer the false comfort of simplicity.  Listing what a leader are or need to do also ignores other significant factors, such as followers and the general situation.

John Maxwell’s book ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’ fairs better than most attempts at leadership lists. Instead of traits, characterises or skills.  Maxwell argues that his 21 ‘laws’ can help leaders grow and develop.

.  Maxwell’s list in full is:

  1. Leadership ability determines a person effectiveness
  2. The true measure of leadership is influence
  3. Leadership develops daily, not in a day
  4. Anyone can steer a ship, but leaders chart the course
  5. Leaders add value by serving others
  6. Trust is the foundation of leadership
  7. People follow leaders stronger than themselves
  8. Leaders apply a leadership lens to everything
  9. Who you are is who you attract
  10. Leaders touch the heart before they ask for help
  11. Leaders potential is determined by that closest to them
  12. Only secure leaders give power to others
  13. People do what people see
  14. People buy into the leader and then the vision
  15. Leaders find ways for the team to win
  16. Momentum is a leader’s friend
  17. Activity does not equal accomplishment
  18. Leaders make sacrifices for others
  19. Timing is everything
  20. Leaders training other leaders
  21. Leaders are measured by what comes after them

Maxwell’s book offers some good advice.  He explains each ‘law’ in detail and uses either a personal story or a common business story (e.g., Jack Welch at GE) to support each of his points.  Maxwell also offers a page of advice on how you can best apply these ‘laws’.

In his book, ’21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’ John Maxwell condenses much of the contemporary advice on leadership.  Read this book to get a practitioners overview on the many things leaders need to think about an focus on.

Amazon link – 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership