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6 Irrefutable Ways to be a More Effective, Influential and Successful Leader

According To America’s No. 1 Leadership Authority, John C. Maxwell

“How you lead determines how well you succeed.” – John Maxwell

If you’re like much of the population, at some point in your life, you’ve experienced poor leadership. Either you’ve had a boss that made you dread coming to work, or you have been part of an organization where the leader was difficult and focused on your shortcomings. If you’re fortunate, you’ve also experienced working with a great leader. One who valued you, listened to you, motivated and inspired you.

The former leader leads to low morale, high turnover and a below-average company while the latter leader leads to a team of highly motivated and talented employees, company growth and an organization that is continually achieving new levels of success.

So, what makes one person a great leader and another a poor one? During a private, closed-door training, John Maxwell answered that question. He discussed the laws of leadership that make a great leader. He also revealed the good news that, even if you are a poor leader today, you can develop your leadership skills to become a great leader.

Maxwell, who has been studying, speaking, teaching, training and writing about leadership for more than five decades, is the founder of the largest leadership training organization in the world. He has trained six million leaders — in every country in the world. He wrote the first book ever written on leadership that said you can develop yourself as a leader. The book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” immediately became a bestseller and is the all-time bestselling leadership book ever written. It’s been printed in 56 different languages and sold millions of copies. In China alone, it’s sold over 10 million copies.

The reason Maxwell’s laws of leadership are so popular is because they work. And the reason they work is because they are foundational laws. For a law of leadership to be included in the book, it had to meet specific criteria: It had to work in any culture, anywhere in the world. And it had to work regardless of time. In other words, it worked 100 years ago, it works today and it will work 100 years from now.

Here are key takeaways from John Maxwell’s presentation that will help you lead your company better so that your business can reach its full potential:

The law of the lid. Maxwell defines this law by saying, “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential.” In other words, “How you lead determines how well you succeed.” On a scale of one to 10, if your leadership skills are at a level five, your company will never rise above that. At most, Maxwell says, your company will be at a level four. In other words, if you are an average leader, you’ll have a slightly below average organization. Your company can never rise above your level of leadership.

Says Maxwell: “Everything rises and falls on leadership. It works in the business world. It works in government. It works in education. It works in religion. How well you lead is going to determine how well you succeed. Your leadership is your lid. The great news is, you can learn to lead, and not only can you learn to lead, your people can learn to lead.”


If you want to grow your company, you must do two things. You must develop yourself and you must develop others to grow them into leaders. When you develop yourself, you begin to add to your life. When you develop others, you begin to multiply the value you add to others. Once you add value to a leader, that leader turns around and influences a lot of people.

“This law is the most important law,” Maxwell said. “Not because it’s more important than the others, but if you understand this law, you will begin to spend the rest of your life with a passion to learn how to lead better than you do now.”


“If you really want it to rise, you have to have good leadership skills, and you have to have good values,” Maxwell said. “One won’t substitute for the other.” Good leadership coupled with bad values creates large turnover in organizations because people don’t want to stay with you. “If you have great leadership skills, but you have bad values, you will know how to lead people, but because your values aren’t right, you’ll manipulate them and you’ll begin to take advantage of them,” he said. “You’ll begin to have people adding value to you instead of you adding value to them.”

Great values coupled with poor leadership skills won’t grow your company. Maxwell explains: “If you have great values, but you don’t have leadership skills, then the good news is you’re going to be a wonderful person. I tell people if you know somebody that has good values, but they don’t have leadership skills, make them your friend, not your leader. But when both leadership skills and good values come into play, that’s when everything really begins to rise. When you grow yourself as a leader, you grow your organization. And when you grow the people on your team and your organization’s leaders, everything follows.”

The law of magnetism. Like attracts like. You can’t expect to attract highly talented, quality people to your organization if you don’t possess those types of qualities yourself. To attract better people, you’ve got to become the kind of person you want to attract. “We don’t attract who we want, we attract who we are,” Maxwell said. “This is the law of magnetism.” If you are a leader who is a level five, you are not going to attract a level eight leader. “When you raise your lid, you not only build your organization, you attract higher level people,” he said.

The law of process. With this law, Maxwell emphasizes the importance of watching your daily habits and priorities. People have the tendency to underestimate the process of developing leaders. You don’t develop a leader in a four-week crash course. There is a process that you must value and commit to.

Says Maxwell: “Leaders develop daily, not in a day. I can tell you we need to not microwave leaders; we need to crockpot leaders. You don’t need a leadership course. You need a leadership culture. There’s a world of difference between those two. But the moment that you develop a leadership culture where consistently leadership is taught, and leadership is lived, and leadership is shared, and leadership is valued, the moment that you begin to develop a leadership culture, then things really begin to change incredibly for your organization.”


After hearing Earl Nightingale say that if you spend one hour a day every day on the same subject for five years, you could become an expert on the subject, Maxwell started spending at least one hour every day on learning about leadership. He read books about leadership, talked to leaders and asked them questions about leadership. He did leadership exercises. As he  practiced leadership, he began to get better. People started following him more and his influence began to expand. He could tell he was really learning how to lead, and that he was getting better. But he cautions that you don’t ever want to make the mistake of thinking you’ve arrived or that you’ve become an expert at leadership. Instead, it’s about continual growth and development within your lifetime.

Says Maxwell: “I was growing as a leader, and all of a sudden, the law of process began to take place in my life. It doesn’t take place in one day, and you don’t want to stop and say, ‘I just got good.’ Once you get into the process, you develop your leadership, and as you grow, you realize yesterday doesn’t look as great. Most people miss this. When you’re growing in the process, your success is being stored before it shows up. You’ve been a success the whole time, it’s just today that it shows up. See, the law of process says it’s got to be stored before it shows up. I  stopped asking ‘How long will it take?’ and I started asking ‘How far can I go?’ At the end of five years, I wasn’t an expert. I’m not an expert now, and I’ve been doing it for 50 years. Because the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. And the more you know you don’t know, the more you know you need to know more. So, if you need to know more, and you know you don’t know enough, you’re not an expert. The only experts I know are people that don’t know much but have a title.”

The law of addition. Maxwell defines this law by saying, “Leaders add value by serving others.” He says that you add value to others when you truly value them and when you intentionally do everything you can to make yourself valuable to them. Maxwell continues: “In relationships, you’re either a plus or a minus in life. It’s not that complicated. This whole area of valuing people and adding value to people. What it does is it allows you to be a plus in their life. When you’re a plus in person’s life, when they see you walk into the room, they say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so glad to see you.’”

As leaders, we add value to people. Maxwell’s coaching company has 50,000 coaches in 172 countries around the world. He takes his coaches through the qualities he believes are extremely important to be a successful organization. “Our opening line is this: We are people of value, who value people and add value to them,” Maxwell said.

If you want to become a leader, Maxwell suggests you start by intentionally adding value to people every day. “All kinds of people have leadership titles and positions,” Maxwell said. “They’re just taking walks. But how you gain influence is by adding value to people.”


First and foremost, Maxwell truly values people. Every day he thinks of ways to add value to  people. Maxwell explains: “Every day I look at my schedule and where I am going to go. Who am I going to talk to? What am I going to say? If you look for ways to add value to people, you’ll find ways to add value. But if you don’t look for ways to add value to people, you won’t add value to them because you’ll never find a way. How we view things is how we do things.”

He also does things to add value to people. Ask yourself who you are going to add value to  today and at the end of the day, review whom you added value to and how you added value to them. Says Maxwell: “I’m very intentional because I understand that when you begin to add value to people, you begin to increase your influence with people. Think of anybody that adds value to you in your own life on your team or whatever. They have a major influence with you. Why? Because they are constantly adding value to you every day.”

Another way he adds value is by encouraging others to add value to people. “If you and the people in your organization are very intentional in adding value to people, it’s a game changer,” he said.

The law of solid ground. Maxwell defines this law by saying, “Trust is the foundation of leadership.” He discovered this law as he was teaching leadership skills around the world. He began teaching the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. “That value is taught in every religion and in every culture in the world,” Maxwell said. “It’s a wonderful value, and I began to understand right then how important trust was. Trust is the foundation of leadership. It always has been and it always will be.”

When Maxwell was asked to speak at the United Nations, he taught a lesson called “Three Questions Every Follower Asks of Their Leader.” He chose this subject because he wanted something that would work universally. “These work in any country, any culture and it works in your company,” Maxwell said.


The first question people ask when they realize you are their leader is “Do you like me?” “It’s nice to have a leader that likes you,” Maxwell said. “It makes it easier.” He adds that if you don’t like the people you lead, you should “go home and stay home.” “If you don’t like the people you lead, it’s only a matter of time before you manipulate them,” Maxwell said. “And manipulation is always wrong.” When you manipulate people, you move people for your own personal advantage, and that’s always wrong. Leaders move people, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it’s for mutual advantage, but you should not move people for your personal advantage.

The second question people ask is “Can you help me?” That’s what makes you a leader. If you can’t help people and make things better in your company because you are leading it, then you aren’t fulfilling your leadership role. “If I follow you and you’re going to lead me, are you going to make things better for me?” Maxwell said. “Because when you think about it, leaders make things better. In fact, our company slogan is, Everyone deserves to be led well.”

The third question is “Can I trust you?” This is where you begin to understand the value of good values. Maxwell teaches values around the world. “We’re asked by the president of the country to come in and teach values to small groups,” Maxwell said. “What we’ve found is when people learn good values, they live those good values and become more valuable. When kids have good values inside, they need less validation on the outside. But when they lack good values on the inside, they need more validation.”

In the law of solid ground, trust is the foundation in relationships, and it’s an important, life-changing law. “Go inside yourself for a moment as a leader and think of the people on your team,” Maxwell said. “Ask yourself these simple questions, ‘Do I like them? Do I make life better for everybody? Can people trust me?’”

The law of priorities. Maxwell defines this law as follows: “Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.” The Pareto principle, named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who wrote about the 80/20 connection, states that for many outcomes, roughly 80 percent of consequences come from 20 percent of causes. You may have also heard this called the 80/20 rule. Maxwell explains: “It’s all about priorities. The Pareto principle basically says, if you have 10 things to do, if you’ll list them in order of importance, where number one is truly number one, if you’ll just do the top two out of the 10, you’ll get an 80 percent return on everything you want in your life. The 80/20 principle is powerful. Forget priorities for a moment. The top 20 percent of the people in your organization give you 80 percent of the return. We tend to spend 80 percent of our time with the bottom 20 percent and we get very little return. Instead, we need to spend 80 percent of the time with the top 20 percent of the people.”


Maxwell teaches what he calls “the three Rs”. The three Rs are what’s required of you, what gives you your greatest return and what gives you your greatest reward. “Your goal is to do the things that are required of you, the things that give you the greatest return, and the things that give you the most important reward,” he said. “When those are all the same things, you are in your sweet spot.”

While it’s important to learn and understand all the laws of leadership, Maxwell points out that no one practices all the laws. Read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Start learning and practicing leadership. When you do that, and develop a passion to learn how to lead, you’ll spend the rest of your life becoming a better leader than you are now. “Every leader can grow,” Maxwell said. “But it takes dedication to do so and a willingness to work for it.” If you take the time to learn the laws of leadership, you’ll get better at leadership. And when you get better at leadership, you’ll raise the level of your company.

John C. Maxwell has spent the last 40 years inspiring and challenging people from numerous Fortune 500 companies, national trade associations, nonprofits and educational institutions to grow, change, and find their passion.

Interested in learning more ways to enhance your company’s success? View IT Radix’s Momentum NJ magazine in its entirety here!