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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition) Hardcover – September 16, 2007
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"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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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. Hutton," for example, is based on a TV ad campaign that ended with the motto: "When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen." Maxwell's Law #5 says you can quickly tell who the real leader/influencer in a group is, because when this person speaks, everyone at the table listens, nods, and begins to express assent. Maxwell learned this at his first church where he discovered the real leader was Claude, even though Claude wasn't even the church moderator. Maxwell then learned to influence Claude and let Claude lead the others.
You can see how practical this kind of book could be. We bumble around for much of our lives, and stumble over these "laws," trying to learn to be leaders, often not understanding what went wrong. With some clear direction -- and that's what Maxwell provides -- you'll be able to grow more quickly as a leader.
Don't expect a "spiritual" book, however. While the "laws" are solidly founded on Scriptural principles, they are expressed in a non-religious manner. For years, Maxwell has been called on by mega-corporations to teach leadership to their executives, so this and some of his more recent books are designed to be read with profit by both Christian and business audiences.
I've read a lot in the field of leadership, and in my opinion, Maxwell is tops. He's not only humorous and easy-to-read, his analysis of the essentials of leadership is brilliant. If you're a church leader, you'll want to read this, and then buy a copy for your pastor at Christmas. If you're a pastor, this is a book to absorb and then circulate among your lay leaders to raise their level of leadership. This will also be an appreciated gift to a business executive.
But while the book has remained unchanged, its author has grown and matured. He has read more, worked with more people, and taught his principles over and over again. And so the book we get from this fifty-one-year-old author is a more mature and developed one than we got from John Maxwell when he was forty-one. That is a very good thing.
In the intervening decade Maxwell found that some laws needed to be combined. He also adds two new laws. The number of laws remains the same.
This book is better than the first version. You can count up the new stories and examples if you want, but the numbers aren't the story. The story is that this man who wrote one of the best books on leadership has added the growth, maturity and insights of a decade and made it even better.
As Maxwell outlines it on page 245, there has been a trajectory to his thinking. In the beginning he understood leadership development as primarily a process of personal development. That's still part of his thinking, but he's added understanding of the importance of a leadership team, and, especially, the importance of developing other leaders.
There are two key questions to ask and answer about any book like this. First: "If I read this book and apply what I learn, will I be a better leader?"
The answer to that is a resounding "yes." The content here is good and it's practical. Leadership is an apprentice trade. You learn most of it on the job, by trying things out, observing how you do, and adjusting how you do things in the future based on results and feedback.
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership gives you a great starting point for learning. At the end of each chapter there's a section on applying this lesson to your life. There's also a law (number 3) called "The Law of Process" that reminds you that "Leadership develops daily, not in a day."
There's no promise of magic here. But you can count on improved results if you use the book to guide your actions.
The second question to ask and answer is: "Is the book written well enough that I can move through it easily and learn its lessons?"
The answer to that one is another "yes." There's excellent use of stories and examples, which will help you learn and understand. Key points are highlighted throughout the book. The writing is smooth and easy to read.
There are some things to quibble with. I think his description of how Robert E. Lee wound up with the generals he did is simply, historically wrong. But you can leave that example out of the book and the chapter where it appears and still get value from both.
There are also things that may trouble individual readers. Maxwell learned his leadership trade as a pastor and it's obvious from several of his personal stories. That makes some people uncomfortable. Others think that you need to learn leadership in business or the military, because a church is a "soft" environment.
Don't believe it. Maxwell learned is trade in one of the most demanding environments for a leader. Pastors and other nonprofit leaders don't have many of the tools of reward that their business colleagues have. The lack the disciplinary tools that the military gives its leaders.
The result is that people who learn their trade in the nonprofit world develop skills of communication and persuasion that can escape leaders in other sectors. The lessons Maxwell learned will work anywhere.
If you're just starting out as a leader, this book can provide you with a self-development roadmap to guide you as you work to master the leadership craft. If you've been practicing leadership for a while, this book will give you a refresher as well as new insights.