leadership lessons

A leader in the making: The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership by John C Maxwell

Your ability to lead will either bring what you do to its peak or to its knees.

As legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.” Leadership is a skill that anyone can master with time. In The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, motivational speaker and author, John C Maxwell has shared valuable leadership lessons he learned from his over 30 years of study of leadership. Even if you can adopt a few of them, they can help you become an effective leader. And who doesn’t want to be one?

Your ability to lead can either bring you to the height of your success or to your knees. It determines your effectiveness as a leader, your influence over your peers, and how far you can go together, as a team. Listed below are a few lessons that can help enhance your leadership skills and turn you into a better leader.

Leadership requires daily efforts

What does your daily routine look like? Do you use your time wisely? Are you making time for personal development? What you do on a daily basis can go a long way in defining you as a leader. Like everything else, it takes practice to be good at what you do. Maxwell gives the metaphor of boxing to explain its significance. He writes in his book, “Boxing is a good analogy for leadership development because it is all about daily preparation. Even a person with natural talent has to prepare and train to become successful.” In other words, you become a leader one day at a time, when consistency meets hard work.

Trust is the foundation of leadership

To trust someone is to feel safe in their company. When you trust someone, you can rely on them as you feel confident in their integrity, strength, and decision making. Maxwell writes, “Character makes trust possible. And trust makes leadership possible. Whenever you lead people, it’s as if they consent to take a journey with you. The way that trip is going to turn out is predicted by your character.” If your peers can’t trust you, they will never follow your leadership. Therefore, anyone looking to enhance their leadership skill must become trustworthy first.

The true measure of leadership is influence

Without influence, you can’t lead anyone. This is why, the true value of a leader is not measured by their rank or position, but the influence they have over others. And your influence is directly related to factors such as positive traits, competence, and intuition—the ingredients of the leadership recipe. Maxwell says, “No matter what anybody else may tell you, remember that leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.”

Busyness does not equal productivity

To become a good leader, it is important to understand the difference between being busy and being productive. The former is about working hard, while the latter is about working smart. One is fuelled by perfectionism while the other is powered by purpose. It’s a valuable leadership lesson that separates winning from losing. Busyness aims at tasks while productivity chases vision. So, if you want to be an effective leader, you need to sort out your priorities and focus on the things that are aligned with your goals. Maxwell explains, “Prioritizing requires leaders to continually think ahead, to know what’s important, to know what’s next, to see how everything relates to the overall vision.”

Timing is everything

You cannot afford to waste your time if you want to achieve your goals. Because how you manage your time can be the difference between success and failure. Think about it. You want to launch a new product for the holiday season. However, to make enough sales, you need to understand people’s behaviour first. Most of them might do their shopping long before the holiday. Launching your product at the right time can boost your sales while missing this window can be detrimental to your sales. Timing is everything. Successful leaders understand this leadership lesson and take their decisions based on the situation they find themselves in. Maxwell writes, “When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go.”

Momentum is a leader’s friend

Motivation is the key to creating and building momentum in your team. When your team is motivated, nothing is impossible—the problems appear small and the future looks bright. Hence, if you want to be a good leader, stay focused on your vision and strive to motivate your people so they have the right attitude. So, how to do that? It starts with recognising your teammates and their strengths, appreciating their efforts and celebrating their accomplishments. Maxwell writes, “An organization with momentum is like a train that’s moving at sixty miles per hour. You could build a steel-reinforced concrete wall across the tracks, and the train would plow right through it.”

Leaders chart the course

Leaders lead from the front. They guide you when you are lost and take the first blow when facing a challenge. Fully aware of the responsibilities they have on their shoulders, they don’t leave anything to chance, rather they plan in advance. They know to have the best chance at success, they need to be realistic, focused, in control, and have the vision to plan the course of their action. Maxwell says, “Leaders who are good navigators are capable of taking their people just about anywhere.”

Leaders create leaders like themselves

In your limited time on the Earth, what legacy do you wish to leave behind? How do you want people to remember you? You must ask these questions if you want to be a good leader. Good leaders follow what they preach. Their actions define what they stand for. To be successful at what they do, they create more leaders like themselves who can lead without any title. Maxwell writes, “The bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.”


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