“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” – John Maxwell
Leadership has always been a buzzword and I believe it will continue to be. Over my almost two-decade-long career in the corporate training field, it has been one of the biggest challenges faced by organizations of all sizes and I absolutely love working with teams on the topic. One of my favorite and go-to resources is John Maxwell’s book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.
The 21 laws are considered a “must-know” for any current, new or emerging leader – especially at this time in our country. Here are the first four and arguably the most important laws. Based on these four laws, alone, how strong is your leadership?:
Law #1: The Law of the Lid. The ability to lead is the “lid” that determines a person’s effectiveness. The lower the ability to lead, the lower the lid on his or her potential and vice versa. Your business or organization will not rise beyond the level your leadership allows. If a leader’s ability was rated on a scale of 1-10 and their ability to lead rated seven, then the leader’s effectiveness can never reach beyond six. However, if a leader’s ability is strong, the organization’s “lid” is heightened. One way to apply the Law of the Lid to your life is to seek feedback from others on your leadership ability. Ask your boss, co-workers, a spouse and three others, to rate you on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) in the following areas: people skills; planning and strategic thinking; vision; results. Average the ratings and reflect on the outcomes. Is your ability as a leader weaker or stronger than you believed? Whatever the outcomes, decide to actively pursue growth in the area of leadership.
Law # 2: The Law of Influence. The true measure of leadership is influence —nothing more, nothing less. If a person does not possess the ability to influence, they will never have the ability to lead. True leadership is earned. This means that being a leader is not about being first, or being an entrepreneur, or being the most knowledgeable, or being a manager. It is also not about just holding a leadership position. It takes influence. The essence of influence lies in getting the other person to participate because they want to and not because they have to. A great way to build influence is to volunteer at an organization whose purpose you believe in. This is a great platform for practicing leadership skills. As you volunteer or lead in your circle or organization, consider the following seven factors: character (who you are), relationships (who you know), knowledge (what you know), intuition (what you feel), experience (where you have been), past success (what have you done) and ability (what you can do). Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 means it is not a factor, 10 means you rely heavily on it) then ask yourself, “What can I do to improve upon the areas with low scores?” and “How can I enhance my use of the areas with high scores?”
Law # 3: The Law of Process. Leadership develops daily, not in a day. Becoming a leader is like investing in the stock market. If you try to make a fortune in a day, there is a very strong chance you won’t succeed. There are many aspects to leadership. These include people skills, emotional strength, vision, momentum, timing, et cetera, and all can be learned over time with focus and patience. If you continually invest in your leadership development, growth is inevitable. How can you apply this law to your life? By writing out a plan for your personal growth. Be determined to read one book or listen to one message a month on leadership; attend one conference per year; or turn your car into a leadership university on wheels. Focus on one element at a time, perhaps, and measure your progress as you grow.
Law # 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 whole trip before leaving the dock. Good leaders function as navigators who plan the course to achieve success. However, this is only one half of it. As a leader, one must also see obstacles before others do. To do this, he or she must learn to see more, see farther and see before others. The navigator must listen to the people he or she leads and balance optimism with realism. Preparation is the key to good navigation. Time must be invested in this trait to become an excellent navigator.
The “laws” needed to be a “sought-after” leader may not come naturally to all of us, but they can be learned and practiced over time. Simon Sinek, author of the insightful book “Start With Why”, says this: “Followers want to be taken care of. Leaders want to take care of others. We can all be leaders.” With that said, my challenge to you is to do whatever it takes to consistently improve your leadership skills and the leadership skills of your teams. Investment in this area is bound to bring a definite return on investment.
If you would like to arrange a specialized leadership training for your employees, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Keshelle Davis is a multi award-winning entrepreneur, corporate and business trainer and the chief executive officer of the Training Authority. She is the former executive director of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Institute and an internationally recognized speaker and author. She is the creator of popular personal and professional development programs including Excel School, The Dreamboard Party Experience, The Planners Retreat and more. She has helped thousands of people fulfill their vision, obtain mastery and become more productive in their lives. To comment on the article or join her list for free monthly training tips, email email@example.com.