This summary and review of the book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow them, and People Will Follow You, was prepared by Jessica Nicosia while an Accounting and Management major student in the College of Business at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.
The book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, was written by John C. Maxwell. The book is about 21 laws that Maxwell has come up that will help people come true leader. He also helps to defines what a true leader is and what he stands for. He describes each law in such wonderful detail that it is easy to understand the concepts and learn from them. Maxwell has been a leader for 30 years in the world of business worldwide. But the book cannot only help in the business world but also in your personal life to deal with families and general things about life.
One thing that I found that the Maxwell does is he uses his personal life as the center of the book. He uses his experience from owning businesses and being a minister to help people to better understand the laws that he trying to teach us. Maxwell also used famous quote from several different people in history to describe each law and these quotes better how the reader to grasp the full idea of the law and how they play into the real world. The books help a leader turn into a true leader and helps people realize how to be a leader in the world. It also tells some of the myths about being a leader and how they are wrong. It also tells about factor people must have in order to be a leader and some question people must ask themselves in order to be a leader.
In the introduction of the book, Maxwell asks all his readers to keep four things in mind so they can better understand the laws. The first thing is that laws can be learned. The second thing is that laws can stand alone. The third thing is that laws carry consequences with them. The fourth thing that he asks readers to keep in mind is that these laws are the foundation of leadership. If you keep these four simple things in your mind while reading the book then you will better understand the law and be able to better use them in your own life. One main concept that one has to realize which is also one of the laws is that leadership is not something that you are just born with or is handed to you for just to have in life. Leadership is something that you can learn and always have to be willing to learn as you get older because leadership is always changing and you have to be willing to change with it. The book states that “follow them and people will follow you” but first you have to be willing to learn and understand the laws before you can use them to get people to follow you as a leader.
The Ten Things Managers Need to Know from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
1. Leadership develops daily, not in a day. You have to be willing to learn. A manager has to be willing to continue to learn new things about leadership. As the business world changes then a manager must be willing to change as well.
2. Manager and a leader are not the same. A manager is someone who gives people direction to follow but a leader is someone who has people willing to follow them. You need to first become a leader in order to be a good manager.
3. Leaders attract people like themselves. If you are a good leader then you will attract people who are also good. This means that as a whole group then the group can make something wonderful happen. If you do not like the people around you then you first need to change yourself.
4. You must touch the heart before the hand. A good leader or manger needs to have a special connection with the people around them on a personal level. If you care about the people around you then in turn the people around you will care as well and try to improve things.
5. Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. A good manager needs to have a good game plan ready to handle any type of business that may happen. The best thing a manger can do is to plan ahead and be ready.
6. It takes a leader to raise up a leader. A good manager should have a good inner circle. Everyone knows that “two heads is better than one”. A manager may not be able to handle everything alone so they need to have a group there ready to help.
7. The true measure of leadership is influence: nothing more, nothing less. A good leader or manager has to be able to influence the people who chose to follow them. If you are able to influence the people around you, you will have a better outcome in the end.
8. Leaders evaluate everything with leadership bias. A leader or manager needs to be see things coming and be ready to respond. They need to have a good intuition based on facts, logic, and instincts.
9. Momentum is a leader’s best friend. Momentum gives leaders or manager a way to achieve their goals. The two keys to good momentum are preparation and motivation.
10. Leaders find a way for the team to win. A leader or manager will always find a way to make things happen and to have things go the right way. Even if they have to change the main game play, they should be ready and prepared with another one.
Full Summary of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
John Maxwell has worked in the business world for thirty plus years and most of the years he has spent them in leadership powers. He is very prolific. He is an ordained minister, professional speaker, author of two dozen books, founder of four companies, expert on leadership, leader of leaders, and developer of leaders. Maxwell begins his book by stating, “I have the privilege of teaching leadership across the country and around the globe”. After reading this quote, one understanding and believes that he actually knows what he is talking about and means what he says. He believes that leadership principles are constant everywhere and in every business. During reading the 21 laws of leader, Maxwell asks people to keep four things in their mind. The four things are: 1. the laws can be learned, 2. the laws can stand alone, 3. the laws carry consequences with them, and 4. these laws are the foundation of leadership.
Chapter 1: The Law of the Lid
Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. If a person has a low ability to lead then they also have a lower potential to be effective. But if the person has a higher ability to lead and good at it, then they also have a greater chance to have great potential effectiveness in the business world. A person’s leadership ability determines their impact of their business in the business world and effectiveness of the business. Your business can not reach a higher level and become greater if you are not willing to lead it to a greater point or have the ability to. One can find smart, educated, talented, successful, and willing to work people but they can only go as far as their leadership abilities can take them.
Chapter 2: The Law of Influence
The true measure of leadership is influence-nothing more and nothing less. You must influence the people to wan to lead. It cannot be awarded or assigned but it can be earned. There are five myths about leadership that Maxwell discusses. The five myths are as stated as:
The Management Myth. This myth states that leaders and mangers are same which they are not. Leading people is about influencing them which managing people is about maintaining direction is systems and processes. Leaders can change things but mangers can only give directions not changes.
The Entrepreneur Myth. This myth is about entrepreneur being able to buy things but not fix or change them. Entrepreneurs are good at seeing the opportunities of a business but not good at being able to lead people to the opportunity they are seeing.
The Knowledge Myth. The myth is about no matter how high your IQ is does not make you a leader nor does education. One’s education or IQ score does not equal to leadership skills.
The Pioneer Myth. This myth is about being the first one or trendsetter does not make you the leader. For a person to be a leader, the person has to be in front but not only be in front, they must have people following the leader and trying to help make the leader’s goals a reality.
The Position Myth. This myth is telling about no matter what your position or rank is does not make you the leader. It is the leader who makes the position not the position who makes the leader.
There are several factors that enable a person to be a leader that can influence people. Some of the factors that make a leader a leader are as followed:
Character-Who They Are- Leadership skills come from the person inside.
Relationships-Who They Know- If a person has the right relationships with the right people that they may have a chance to become a real leader in a business.
Knowledge- What They Know- For a leader, information is very important. They must know some the facts so they can determine their vision of the future of the business in which they are leading.
Intuition- What They Feel- Leaders influence intangibles and seek to recognize them. The intangibles are energy, morale, timing, and momentum.
Experience-What They’ve Been- The more challenges and success of your past then the more followers will be more likely to allow you to lead them.
Ability-What They Can Do- As a leader you must be able to let your followers to the best things in life. Once you start to lead your followers to the wrong path then they will stop following you.
Chapter 3: The Law of Process
Leadership develops daily not in a day. Leadership is something that is learned over time not just all in one day. The more experiences you have the better leadership you would have, Good leaders are also good learners. The learning process is one that never ends and good leader will try to learn to better their skills. There are four phases of the leadership growth. The phases are as followed:
Phase 1: Don’t Know What I Don’t Know- The person must know the importance of leadership enable for the person to grow into a good leader.
Phase 2: I Know What I Don’t Know- A leader must realize that they may not know everything to lead so they must be willing to learn to better them. If they do not better themselves then someone will come along and become the new leader.
Phase 3: I Know and Grow and It Starts to Show- A leader is able to better themselves and allow good things to happen to them when they see where they lack certain skills and discipline themselves so they can allow personal growth.
Phase 4: I Simply Go Because of What I Know- A leader must develop a skills that obey the law of process to have great instincts to be able to lead.
Chapter 4: The Law of Navigation
Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. A leader must be able to think ahead to get the best outcome. Before a good leader starts a new idea, they must take a process to make sure about the new idea. The process has the leaders drawing experience from the past, examine the conditions before making commitments, listen to what others have to say, and make sure their conclusion represent both fact and faith. Some leaders have a problem with listening to others because they feel their idea is the best idea for the situation. Maxwell uses an acrostic to help in charting a course with a navigation strategy. The acrostic is as followed:
Predetermine a course of action
Lay out your goals
Adjust your priorities
Notify key personal
Allow time for acceptance
Head into action
Always point to the successes
Daily review your plan
The main thing with this law is to be prepared. If you are prepared and know what you are talking about then people will believe in you and be ready to follow you.
Chapter 5: The Law of E.F. Hutton
When real leader holds the power, not just the position. Hutton was one of America’s most influential stock market analysts. This being said means that was also a great leader. When he was to speak, everyone would listen. Another person talked about is Margaret Thatcher. She has a famous quote, “Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t”. This quote describes that you should not have to tell people you are a lady just like you should not have to tell them you are in power. People should be able to tell you are a lady just like they should be able to tell you are the leader.
Chapter 6: The Law of Solid Ground
Trust is the Foundation of Leadership. When it comes to leadership, you have to build leadership with time and commitment. You cannot take shortcuts when building leadership just like we trust. It also requires competence, connection, and character. If you break trust with people, then how would be expect them to follow you and believe in you.
Chapter 7: The Law of Respect
People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. The rule of respect works as people just those stronger than themselves. The more leadership ability of someone than the more people will see it and they will follow you and your ability. Even a weaker leader would follow a stronger leader. The biggest test of respect is to see whether followers will still follow after you make a change.
Chapter 8: The Law of Intuition
Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias. To be a good leader you must be able to see trends, problems, and solve them. They have to be able to read and response. When one reads this chapter an old quote from a song comes to mind, “You must know when you hold them and when to fold them”. This quote comes to mind because a leader needs to see a situation and see how to respond to have the best outcome.
Chapter 9: The Law of Magnetism
Who you are is who you attract. This means that the way you handle your business determines who you attract to do business with you. People always want to find good workers but leaders are always on the lookout for the best people for their organization. Leaders are usually able to attract people who are a lot like themselves and have the same wants as they do so better leader than the better people who you would attract. If you think you need better people around you then take a look in the mirror change yourself first for the better.
Chapter 10: The Law of Connection
Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. A leader will try to make an emotion connection before a personal connection because people respond to emotional connections first. It is true that your heart comes before your hand. If you need to connect with a group then a leader must first connect with everyone on an individual level then on a group level. People wants to know how much you care before how must you know. Because naturally everyone wants to feel safe and that you care about them and their situation.
Chapter 11: The Law of Inner Circle
A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. One thing about this law is that people have more success as a group rather than as individuals. There are five types of people that a leader wants in their inner circle. The five types of people are:
1. Potential Value- those who rise up themselves
2. Positive Value- those who raise morale in the group
3. Personal Value- those who rise up the leader
4. Productive Value- those who rise up others
5. Proven Value- those who raise up people who raise up other people
“Hire the best staff you can find, develop them as much as you can, and hand off everything you possibly can to them.”
Chapter 12: The Law of Empowerment
Only secure leaders give power to others. Maxwell uses a quote from Mark Twain to describe this law. The quote is, “Great things can happen when you don’t care who gets the credit”. If you empower your inner circle then they will try to improve things to make their leader proud which will in turn make everything else better as well.
Chapter 13: The Law of Reproduction
It takes a leader to rise up a leader. There is a quote that comes into my mind. The quote is, “it takes one to know one, to show one, to grow one”. In order to have leader then someone needs to teach them how to be leaders. You cannot teach other unless you are a leader yourself. Leaders who develop other to become leaders are able to see the big picture, attract potential leaders, and create an eagle environment.
Chapter 14: The Law of Buy-In
People buy into the leader, then the vision. If you do not believe in the leader then how are you supposed to believe in their vision?
Chapter 15: The Law of Victory
Leaders find a way for the team to win. There are three main components of victory. They are the unity of vision, diversity of skills, and leader decimated to victory and rising players to their potential.
Chapter 16: The Law of Momentum
Momentum is a leader’s best friend. There are two key facts in preparation and motivation. Leader has to be able to make things actually happen not just in vision them. Momentum is able to make leaders look better than they are, help followers perform better than they are, easier to steer then to start, and most powerful change agent.
Chapter 17: The Law of Priorities
Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment. “A leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, ‘Wrong Tree!!’”. This quote is said by Stephen Covey. Leaders must ask themselves three questions about how they live their lives. The questions are: What is required, What give the greatest return, and what brings the greatest reward.
Chapter 18: The Law of Sacrifice
A leader must give up going up. A leader must have to give up certain things in order to achieve certain things in their company. Some leaders sacrifice having a family to make sure they achieve what they want in life.
Chapter 19: The Law of Timing
When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go. A leader wants to have the right outcome but they have to hope that it is the right time for it. If they have the right timing and right outcome, then something great may happen. There are four outcomes that can result from making a move:
1. The wrong action at the wrong time leads to disaster.
2. The right action at the wrong time brings resistance.
3. The wrong action at the right time is a mistake.
4. The right action at the right time results in success.
Chapter 20: The Law of Explosive Growth
To add growth, lead followers-to multiply, lead leaders. John Schantter has said, “It’s my job to build the people who are going to build the company”. Leaders who develop followers need to be needed, focus on weaknesses, develop the bottom 20 percent, treat people the same for “fairness”, hoard power, spend time with others, grow by addition, and impact only people they touch personally. Leaders who develop leaders want to be succeeded, focus on strengths, develop 20 percent, treat their leaders as individuals for impact, give power away, grow by multiplication, and impact far beyond their own reach.
Chapter 21: The Law of Legacy
A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. Robert Goizueta says, “Leadership is one of the things you cannot delegate. You either exercise it, or you abdicate it”. I think this quote is able to sum up the meaning of this quote. Leaders who leave a legacy of succession have lead organization with a “long view”, create a leadership culture, pay the price today to assure success tomorrow, value team leadership about individual leadership, and walk away from the organization with integrity.
The Video Lounge
This video was on 700 Club and it was an interview with John C. Maxwell. He tells us about his book, “The 21 irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, and the reason it helps people to become better leaders and tells about his inspiration on his laws.
Why I think:
- The author is one of the most brilliant people around…or is full of $%&#, because:
I think the author is one of the most brilliant author and leader of our time. He actually understands what it means to be a good leader and is able to share it in his 21 laws. He is also brilliant because he is able to make laws easy to understand and learn and use them in our everyday lives.
- If I were the author of the book, I would have done these three things differently:
1. I think the author did an excellent job on this book. But I felt that some of the laws were not as details as other laws. I will that I understand some of the laws better than other ones.
2. Another thing that I would have liked for him to do differently would be to change up situations. Some of the situations felt like they could have happen to anyone while other seem like they only could happen to certain people in the business world.
3. Another things that would be nice if they had a final chapter about what to follow up these laws. I feel like Maxwell did a great job on where to start to become a good leader but I wonder what is next once you think you have achieve all these laws.
- Reading this book made me think differently about the topic in these ways:
1. I thought differently about a leader and a manager. I always felt that a manager has a leader but now I see the difference. I see that you listen to the direction of a manger but you only follow what the follower says.
2. I also thought differently about the concept about touch the heart before the hand. It is such an easy concept to understand but many of us do not get it. If you are willing to make a personal connection with someone, they will help to help you and will continue to follow you because they trust you.
3. The last thing that I think differently about now is that leaders are very unique people. They are special and hard to come by. They have to try twice as hard to be good at something then you do because they always have followers watching their every move from closely.
- I’ll apply what I’ve learned in this book in my career by:
1. I will apply this to my career by I will always try to learn new things. I will always try to better myself and my leadership skills enable to make things around me better.
2. I will also apply that I attract the people around me. If I start not to like the people around me than I need to first change myself. After I change myself, the people around me will also change.
3. I will also apply what I have learned in this book to my career though be trying to always be prepared. I have learned that a leader best thing is to be prepared and plan ahead. Also you should have a backup plan just in case.
- Here is a sampling of what others have said about the book and its author:
“Each time I read, “Follow them, and People will Follow You”, I head a rejoinder in my head: “Don’t follow them, and people won’t follow you.” This book is rightly regarded as a foundational piece of leadership literature”-Julie A. Fleming
“This is a book with a stack of useful insights into process of leadership, which may even help you do it better.”- Phil Campbell
Campbell, P. Perspective Online; Executive Summary: “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. Retrieved from http://perspective.org.au.
Fleming, J. A. (2008, May 30). Book Review: “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. Retrieved from http://lifeatthebar.com.
Maxwell, John C. (1998) “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Retrieved from http://marshallcf.com.
Werff, Terry J. van der, DR., CMC. 1998 Global Future Report. Retrieved from http://global future.com.
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About the Publisher
David C. Wyld (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Robert Maurin Professor of Management at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a management consultant, researcher/writer, and executive educator. His blog, Wyld About Business, can be viewed at http://wyld-business.blogspot.com/. He also serves as the Director of the Reverse Auction Research Center (http://reverseauctionresearch.com/), a hub of research and news in the expanding world of competitive bidding. Dr. Wyld also maintains compilations of his student’s publications regarding:
- management concepts (http://toptenmanagement.blogspot.com/)
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- international foods (http://wyldaboutinternationalfoods.blogspot.com/).