21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership put forth by John Maxwell are the cornerstone to teaching leadership. These laws are designed to help people understand what makes a great leader, how to harness the skills and confidence to become a great leader, and the ways in which to measure success. Becoming a leader to others requires dedication and the right tools to unleash those dormant skills inside of you. To learn about the ingenious philosophy of John Maxwell and how you can start your path to becoming a leader, read below the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

  1. The Law of the lid

Leadership is like a lid or a ceiling on your level of effectiveness. Yourself or your business can only transcend as far as the kind of leadership you are projecting allows for. Ineffective leadership lowers the potential success of employees and business overall. In order to break that ceiling of potential, the individual must project effective leadership skills.


  1. The Law of Influence

Leadership is about influencing people. Nothing more, nothing less. However that influence must be earned. Simply having inhabiting a position of power does not make you a strong leader. Even if you have achieved a certain level of success, this does not make you a leader. Effective leaders encourage others to perform at higher levels. There is a grave difference between leadership and management. Management pertains to maintaining processes and systems, a leader, however, influences people to follow him or her. A strong leader establishes quality relationships which gains them a following.

  1. The Law of Process

Leadership is a learned skill. It cannot be learned in a day, rather it takes a lifetime of constantly learning and adapting to new situations and people. People skills, emotional strength, vision, momentum, and timing are all areas that leaders are constantly improving. Leaders are always learners.

  1. The Law of Navigation

“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.” Preparation is key to this law. The leader must be prepared to navigate others in the direction he or she sees fit. Vision is another key component and can be defined as the ability to see the whole trip before leaving the dock. A leader sees more, sees farther, and sees before others. Navigators balance optimism with realism and are constantly looking to the past to discover what they can improve in the present.

  1. The Law of Addition

This law pertains to the responsibility of leaders to serve others. By serving others, leaders add value. Leaders are not only concerned with their own needs but mostly the needs of others. Good leadership relies on how far a leader can advance the lives of others. Giving evidence of how others can improve is how effective leaders operate. If someone is not offering such advice, they are probably “subtractors.” Intentionally or not, subtractors are not practicing good leadership skills. Good leaders know that serving others is fulfilling and a central aspect to their position.


  1. The Law of Solid Ground

Trust is the foundation for all effective leadership. When it comes to leadership, there are no shortcuts. The value of trust is that it makes others want to follow you. Without this component, leaders cannot successfully influence others. Building trust requires competence, connection and character.

  1. The Law of Respect

“People naturally follow people stronger than themselves.” Even natural leaders tend to fall in behind those who they sense have a higher “leadership quotient” than themselves. Plainly put, others want to follow people who are stronger than them. A pitfall of this law is leaders who rely on talent alone. Being able to attract others to follow you is based upon gaining their respect.

  1. The Law of Intuition

Leaders evaluate everything with a Leadership bias. Leaders see trends, resources, problems, and can read people. This intuition is key to evaluating situations and knowing what call to make Leaders rely on facts, instinct, and conditions when assessing a situation.

  1. The Law of Magnetism

Leaders attract people who are similar to them. “Who you are is who you attract.” It is important to attract the right kind of individuals whom you believe have the potential to be great leaders.  Look to attract others who share common interests as you but who possess different and unique ideas. Making a list of the qualities you are looking for in others is helpful. Thing such as mission statements, vision statements, and core values will help you better understand your own objectives so that you can attract similarly minded people.

  1. The Law of Connection

“We must touch a heart before we ask for a hand.” Part of living up to that statement is knowing ourselves on a deeply personal level. Tell yourself that you are worthy, capable, and deserving. Trust yourself. You must know yourself inside and out before trying to lead others to new places. You must traverse those areas before you can navigate other there. Good leaders use sincerity when they connect with others.

  1. The Law of the Inner Circle

A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. “The leader finds greatness in the group, and helps the members find it in themselves.” Be strategic in whom you include in your inner circle. Ask yourself whether or not someone has good influence with others, if they bring specific gifts or talents to the table, and if they add value to you and your organization. Answering these questions will help you build a strong a trustworthy inner circle.

  1. The Law of Empowerment

Only secure leaders give power to others. Mark Twain said, “Great things can happen when you don’t care who gets the credit.” A leader must first be secure with themsel before leading others. Things such as desire for job security, resistance to change, and lack of self-worth will hold you back from procuring that sense of empowerment. [“Week leaders worry what if they help subordinates, they themselves will become dispensable. But the truth is that the only way to make yourself indispensable is to make yourself dispensable. In other words, if you are able to continually empower other and help them develop so that they become capable of taking over your job, you will become so valuable to the organization that you become indispensable. That’s the paradox of the Law of Empowerment.”]

  1. The Law of The Picture

Setting the example is key to getting others to follow you on the right path. Followers can’t do it, and neither can institutional programs “It takes one to know one, to show one, to grow one.” The leader must be a model of the vision in order to for others to visualize the collective goal. The power of this law lies in the visual aspect. Be the example and teach others of their potential.

  1. The Law of Buy-In

People buy into the leader first, then the vision. Others must buy into you as a leader. You must give others a reason to follow you. Leaders do this by cultivating relationships, practicing honesty in their communications, holding themselves to the highest of standards, and helping others achieve their goals.

  1. The Law of Victory

Leaders find a way for the team to win. Unity of vision, diversity of skills plus a leader are needed for a win. Coaching others to remember that quitting is not an option, that commitment from everyone is essential, and losing is unacceptable will get them to follow the path you are setting.


  1. The Law of Momentum or BIG MO

Having momentum helps others recognize your credibility. Being able to show others your past success gives them confidence in your abilities. Initializing this momentum takes a lot of hard work, but once it begins, you will be able to steer the momentum in the direction that you want. It takes a good leader to start momentum.

  1. The Law of Priorities

Activity is not necessarily accomplishment. Leaders can prioritize activity so that they are getting the right things accomplished. Ask yourself, what can I do that can be doubled or tripled in a single process? Leaders see what activities will give them the greatest return.

  1. The Law of Sacrifice

A leader must give up to go up. Successful leaders must maintain an attitude of sacrifice to improve an organization. Sacrifice also occurs more than once, it is a continuous aspect of good leadership. As he worked to turn around the Chrysler Corporation, Lee Lacocca slashed his own salary to $1 per year. As you move up the ladder of leadership, so does your level of sacrifice.

  1. The Law of Timing

When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go. Only the right action at the right time will bring success. Good timing requires maturity, understanding, confidence, and preparation. Reading situations to evaluate when to act is helpful, but the ultimate decision of when to act will be the difference between failure, mistake, and success.

  1. The Law of Explosive Growth

Develop yourself, your team, and your leaders. A leader who develops leaders is an entirely new mindset and will assist you in creating exponential growth. The greatest reward as a leader is to teach the skills of great leadership. Developing the strengths of others allows those people to also develop more people which is where the explosion of growth comes from.

  1. The Law of Legacy

A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. In order to procure a lasting legacy you must know what you want that legacy to look like and the people who will carry it on. Next you must pass the baton and trust the hands that are leading your words, actions, and thoughts into the future.

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