Nov 15 2013

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – Review and Self-Reflection

Published by at 3:52 pm
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When learning something new, self-reflection is a key aspect of absorbing that information and integrating lessons learned. Whenever I self-reflect I often write about it, either in my blog or other means because while self-reflection is powerful, recording it allows you to look back and remember the lessons learned. Furthermore, sharing your lessons learned with others is a way of committing to integrating that into your life. The book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell is certainly one of those books which it is almost impossible not to relate to your own life as it changes your perspectives on leadership.

The book discusses and gives many examples of the various irrefutable laws and while some of the minor points I disagree, the major points I most definitely agree. There were a few key laws which, upon reflecting on my own career, allowed me to see a different perspective on what I might be doing wrong on my leadership journey. Those laws which I found more impactful were law #2. The Law of Influence, law #6. The Law of Solid Ground, and #10 The Law of Connection. While there were plenty of other laws which I must continue to keep in mind these have the most impact on my career right now.

The “Law of Influence” states simply that leadership is influence. Oddly enough, this law makes the most sense of all of the laws outlined by Maxwell. I’m classified as an Inspirational pattern using the DiSC profile, “People with the DiSC Classic Profile Inspirational Pattern tend to influence the thoughts and actions of others.”  I lead through example and other specific tools, but in the end the purpose is to influence others. The key thing there is influence is not the same as manipulation. Manipulation has a very negative connotation and something that I want no part of. But Maxwell does break down characteristics of someone who is influential of others and one of the first characteristics is Character. Character is the difference between a manipulator and an influencer. A person who is truly influencing others is strong in character, builds relationships, has strong knowledge (because to lead in ignorance can result in failure), has a strong intuition, the wisdom that comes with experience, and proven ability. One final thought he mentions with influence is practicing leadership skills through influence when volunteering in organizations. Funny thing is my largest experiences in leadership was just that, leading a volunteer organization. I need to continue the work I do with the various volunteer organizations I’m a contributing member of and allow those to be avenues to practice my skills as an influencer.

The “Law of Solid Ground” states simply that trust is the foundation of leadership. This is a law that often I forgot. Not that I forget that trust is important, in fact I know it is crucial. My problem is that many times I expect too highly of most people and expect a certain degree of shared trust when new relationships are formed. The problem is that my baseline bar of trust is high and I assume everyones is just as high. This is not saying my baseline is better than others, it is just a simple fact that is neither good nor bad that I must accept. So it is important when I am trying to gain influence over a new group of individuals that I gain their trust and only try to really influence change when trust has been gained. Many times I try, with the best of intentions, to lead before trust is gained and end up hurting my ability to lead before that foundation is built properly.

The “Law of Connection” states that leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. This is not a new law to me, one of my favorite books is John Kotter’s the Heart of Change. While the concept is not new Maxwell does remind me of some key things I often forget. I might be good at connecting with myself, communicating with openness and sincerity, and living my message, what I am poor at is really knowing my audience and knowing where they are at. It is not that these ideas escape my mind, but I don’t focus on them nearly enough. I don’t focus on really coming to grips with where they are before jumping to figuring out how I can influence them to come to my vision. If anything this tells me I need to focus more on appreciating people’s current mindset and building on that mindset instead of trying to change it. Like Maxwell says, “believe in them”, and through that belief take their current perspective and improve upon that perspective, not necessarily replace it. If anything that perspective helps improve the vision, to think otherwise would be assuming you have all the information when in many times you need the opinions, wisdom, and experience of all to come to the proper end vision.

In the end, I see the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership as a another tool that will allow me to make gut checks on how I’m leading. Many times in the past, when I have lead larger organizations, I have relied on others to help with those gut checks. When leading smaller organizations or teams, I must rely on my own influence and focus on building a strong foundation of trust while touching people’s hearts before I can influence their actions. There are many more of Maxwell’s Laws that I still have yet to fully reflect upon, but that is a subject for another day. I would recommend this book to anyone who has the soul of a leader. Parts of the book will make you want to roll your eyes, but if you stick with it the majority of what he has to say is genuinely helpful to a leader of any level of experience.

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