Book Review: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (John Maxwell)

John Maxwell is a very popular motivational speaker and one of the leading authorities of leadership concepts alive today.  Very prolific in his publications, his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” probably stands out as having the most impact.  I recently finished reading this book, and found it to be quite enlightening and very informative.  The specific laws he ties into effective and quality leadership are the following:

  1. The Law of the Lid:  Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.
  2. The Law of Influence:  The true measure of leadership is influence.
  3. The Law of Process:  Leadership develops daily, not in a day.
  4. The Law of Navigation:  Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.
  5. The Law of E.F. Huton:  When the real leader speaks, people listen.
  6. The Law of Solid Ground:  Trust is the foundation of leadership.
  7. The Law of Respect:  People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.
  8. The Law of Intuition:  Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias.
  9. The Law of Magnetism:  Who you are is who you attract.
  10. The Law of Connection:  Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.
  11. The Law of the Inner Circle:  A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to them.
  12. The Law of Empowerment:  Only secure leaders give power to others.
  13. The Law of Reproduction:  It takes a leader to raise up a leader.
  14. The Law of Buy-In:  People buy into the leader, then the vision.
  15. The Law of Victory:  Leaders find a way for the team to win.
  16. The Law of the Big Mo:  Momentum is a leader’s best friend.
  17. The Law of Priorities:  Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.
  18. The Law of Sacrifice:  A leader must give up to go up.
  19. The Law of Timing:  When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go.
  20. The Law of Explosive Growth:  To add growth, lead followers; to multiply lead leaders.
  21. The Law of Legacy:  A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.

Not all of these laws are created equal in my mind, but they offer a good blueprint to follow.  I find that if you read enough of Maxwell’s books, you find yourself reading very similar, if not the same, examples found in some of the others.  I also find that some of his books have references to others, which I think is designed to drive up sales to a certain extent.  Regardless, Maxwell’s ideas are quite good and this book provides a good blueprint for someone to follow if they work their way into a leadership position.  This is a good starting point on the journey to being an effective and highly regarded leader.  It may not answer all the questions, but it a good means to start off on the right track.  I do recommend this book for all aspiring leaders.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (John Maxwell)

  1. Tom, do you beleive that leadership is made or born? I’m splt down the middle on that question. I think that people with certain inherent personality traits will lend themselves well for the concepts Maxwell outlines. If someone has the personality they can work on developing their character and grow into leadership. On the other hand, if someone does not have the right temprament, no matter how much they work to apply these ideas, leadership will not be a natural course for them. The person may work very hard but others will resist following them. What do you think?

    1. I like to think that people can modify behavior to a certain extent to work into the traits that Maxwell has described. If someone is a naturally quiet person, they can make more conscious efforts to speak up (this is really something I can identify with) and can be effective in regards to communication of a vision for example. Someone who normally uses people for their own gain, they may not be able to change that. I guess it depends on which sort of personality trait is being examined, and how ingrained it is into their personality.

      I lean a little to that leaders are made than born, but it is closer to being split to be honest. If someone makes conscious efforts they can be made into a leader, but it may not be a leader of the same quality as someone with natural tendencies. Can a leader be made? To a certain extent, but the question as how effective they will be as a leader remains to be answered. Someone who has natural personality traits in alignment with Maxwell’s will have an easier time of it. Someone without those inherent traits would have to work much harder. Kind of reminds me of my calculus class back in college. Some had no problems. Others like me…bad memories! 🙂 Not an easy answer to your question, especially when leaders are effective at varying degrees. Not an easy black & white kind of question and requires much thought. My kind of questions indeed.

  2. Hi Tom – i, too, really like John Maxwell (have a bunch of his books) & was blessed to attend one of his leadership seminars years ago…

    Re: are leaders ‘born’ or ‘bred’ – there’s also the other issue of opportunity. While working as a director in a very large NGO in Tanzania, our LT (3 women directors & 3 men) encouraged promoting deserving women managers to Senior Manager positions. When i complained once to our our National Director (my boss) about how no one ‘spoke up’ on certain issues (i was never shy, even to our regional VP or the CEO of the whole international organization : ) he said, ‘Virginia, you had so much support growing up – these women as girls had none.” Unfortunately, too true, as our projects encouraged girls at the village level to achieve, change takes time… & my Parents & school teachers & coaches & professors & mentors all provided an incredible foundation springboard for leadership.

    Just sayin’ – that’s why mentorship is So Very Important, along with affirmation to your kids, your neighbor’s children, your colleagues etc.

    Your blogs are so great – wow – Deep Thinking(s) – Virginia

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