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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You Hardcover – September 18, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

John C. Maxwell offers lively stories about the foibles and successes of Lee Iacocca, Abraham Lincoln, Princess Diana, and Elizabeth Dole in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Readers can expect a well-crafted discussion that emphasizes the core attitudes and visions of leadership. Maxwell uses the same tell-it-like-it-is approach that he honed in the bestselling Developing the Leader Within You. For instance, when explaining "The Law of Influence," Maxwell states that "job titles don't have much value when it comes to leading. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed or assigned. It comes only from influence and that can't be mandated." Even after Princess Diana was stripped of her title, Maxwell says she was still able to lead a global effort toward banning land mines because of her sophisticated ability to influence others.

If readers are looking for a step-by-step formula, Maxwell's list of "laws" will probably seem too chatty and anecdote driven. There are no specific tips on what readers can do during the next workday to help them become stronger leaders. On the other hand, Maxwell's background as a pastor gives him an inspirational voice and a spiritual context to leadership that many business and church leaders appreciate. --Gail Hudson


"Our nation and its institutions are crying out for leaders. John Maxwell . . . shows us the true path to leadership through the application of timeless principles supported by the bedrock of personal character."

Edward C. Emma, President & COO, Jockey International, Inc.

"An irrefutable must-read on leadership that is a simple and powerful list of guidelines to help build leadership in many arenas."
--S. Truett Cathy, Founder and Chairman, Chick-Fil-A, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1st edition (September 18, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785274316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785274315
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, coach, and author who has sold over 19 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and the John Maxwell Company, organizations that have trained more than 5 million leaders worldwide. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and organizations as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books which have each sold more than one million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. You can find him at and follow him at

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

263 of 274 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"Don't ever say 'always,'" my mother told me. So when someone says "irrefutable" I'm quick to challenge such a too-complete assertion. But the more I've read of Maxwell's "21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership," the more I think he's nailed it.
John Maxwell has been learning and teaching leadership throughout his entire career as a Wesleyan pastor and seminar speaker. He lives and breathes leadership. And in this book he has distilled the art of leadership into 21 "simple" laws. Well, not so simple, maybe, but at least understandable.
#1 "The Law of the Lid" asserts his basic premise that leadership ability determines the ultimate level of a person's effectiveness. If you have gifts and abilities, you'll make a greater impact the better leader you become. While some people may be blessed with a natural aptitude for leadership, Maxwell contends that leadership "skills" are learnable. You don't have to be a "born leader." You can apply yourself and become a much better leader than you are.
#2 "The Law of Influence." Here's another bedrock proposition: Leadership = Influence, no more and no less. Many church and secular leaders grossly misunderstand this point. They think that Leadership = Power. Maxwell argues that your leadership scope is how many people you influence, not how much organizational power you can wield from your position or office. On the basis of these two concepts, Maxwell constructs a whole philosophy of leadership. He explains the laws of "Solid Ground," "Respect," "Intuition," "the Inner Circle" and many others.
Some are especially intriguing. "The Law of E.F.
Read more ›
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91 of 99 people found the following review helpful By D. Keating on January 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
John Maxwell's book is by far the best leadership book I have read in the past few years. I wish I had this material available to me years ago, so that I was better prepared for the leadership challenges I would face as an officer in the US Army. I have read many leadership books the past decade in order to better develop my own skills, but none of them has put together all the pieces like John Maxwell does in this book.
Basically, the book covers Maxwell's 21 laws of leadership. Each chapter describes the law in detail, and provides many historical examples to help reinforce the principle. I think that he has done a great job of taking a lot of material and focusing in on the key points that help make a leader successful. The book's structure also allows you to put the book down for a few days, and not lose your focus or understanding when you get a chance to return to it. I particularly liked this approach since I never seem to have enough time for professional reading these days. Lastly, the material is easy to understand and apply to any leadership situation, which makes it a great resource for those leaders looking for a way to have an immediate impact on their organization.
As a military officer, I understand the principle role that leadership plays in an organization's success. During my short career (10 years), I have been in both great and lousy units. Each time, I can trace the unit's performance directly to its leader and his/her ability to influence its members to accomplish the mission and take care of its people. My personal experience only helped reinforce the material, and verified in my mind that John Maxwell is "on-target" with his laws.
I highly recommend this book for any leader. Whether you are just starting out on your career, or have been in a leadership position for years, I think this book can make an impact on your performance.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Don Barnes, Fortune 500 VP on January 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
1. This is a great investment of your money, because you can always refer to it and remind yourself quickly and efficiently what's important and what you must focus on. Maxwell distills what you need to know in a caring and giving manner.
2. His work will remain among the classics along with new works that should be part of your personal and professional library, which my company uses. Further recommend any hard-hitting and best-selling book on leadership, such as (1-Minute Manager) and (The Leader's Guide: 15 Essential Skills).
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Jake Well on September 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a descent book on leadership, but if you are actually looking to take your first steps forward to being a great leader, this book isn't a guide to help you get there, but to tell you that you are, or aren't.
This book is more helpful in identifying and aiding people in the understanding of leadership qualities or characteristics. I wouldn't really call them 'laws', but they are characteristics that a leader must have in order to be successful to lead their organization, whatever that is.
I found the book to tell too many stories, especially where many of them were identical in their themes, but with different scenarios. I felt they concentrated too much on sports and his experiences with the church. Countless number of times he would say, 'When I was a pastor at Skyline, my church in San Diego...', and then generally lead on to some story that I felt lacked depth - although the stories did demonstrate the law in the chapter.
I think there should have been more focus on business, with only very few examples of Apple, McDonalds, etc. With over 15 examples related to sports and his church, I didn't relate very well being an entrapreneur in the high-tech field.
Needless to say, all these 'laws', (or rather leadership qualities) are indeed true and this book is a good resource for assessing yourself to see if you are the leader you thought you were. Obviously the stories are just assertion material, so the laws will uphold for anyone who wishes to start learning leadership.
As for developing skills? It's really up to you. this book will help you identify where you are weak so that you can improve, but as to what path to take for improvement, you are left alone in the dark. I would say this book is 3 1/2 stars.
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