Maxwell on The Law of the Lid [UPDATED]

From My Bookshelf May 11, 2010

Ever since Elizabeth handed me John Maxwell’s book, it has seemed that I experience seasons that illustrate one of his “21 laws” over and over and over again. The last few months have been a demonstration of the Law of the Lid.

[UPDATE: It occured to me that I didn’t actually give you what the law is. So here you go]

The Law of the Lid: Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectivness

This leads Maxwell to observe,

Wherever you look, you can find smart, talented, successful people who are able to go only so far because of the limitations of their leadership.

Maxwell goes on to show this law in action:

…Don [chairman of Global Hospitality Resources, Inc.] said that whenever his people went into [a failing] organization to take it over, they always started by doing two things. First, they trained all the staff to improve their level of service to the customers, and second, they fired the leader. When he told me that, i was surprised.

“You always fire him?” I asked. “Every time?”

“That’s right Every time,” he said.

“Don’t you talk to the person first –to check him out and to see if he’s a good leader?” I said.

“No.” he answered. “If he’d been a good leader, the organization wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in.”

And I thought to myself, Of course. It’s the Law of the Lid. To reach the highest level of effectiveness, you have to raise the lid –one way or another.

The good news is that getting rid of the leader isn’t the only way. Just as I teach in conferences that there is a lid, I also teach that you can raise it –but that’s the subject of another law of leadership.

Maxwell, John C.,The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. P. 8

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