Introduction to The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and the Law of the Lid

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Jonathan graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Ouachita Baptist University. He also holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. While he works for a contractor buying specialized tools, his passion is personal finance, frugal living, blogging, and stewardship.

This weekend we started on the book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell in the Book Worms The Book Club Facebook group. This is going to be a great book study! I’m really looking forward to it.

Book Observations

  1. These laws can be learned. Some are easier to understand and apply than others. But remember every one of them can be mastered.
  2. The laws can stand alone. Each law complements all the others. However, you don’t need one in order to learn another.
  3. The laws carry consequences. If you ignore them, you will be unable to lead well. If you do implement them people will follow you.
  4. These laws are the foundation of leadership. Once you learn the laws, you need to work to apply these to your life to achieve your full potential as a leader.

About the Author

A bit about the author of “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author. He has sold millions of copies of his books and some have even been listed on the New York Times Best Seller list. He is originally from Garden City, Michigan. He has a BA from Ohio Christian University, a Master’s of Divinity degree from Azusa Pacific University, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Maxwell speaks annually to fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and a wide variety of organizations throughout the world. I personally heard him speak at Ambition 2013. He is the founder organization including INJOY, Maximum Impact, The John Maxwell Tea, and EQUIP.

Three of Maxwell’s books have each sold over a million copies. These books include The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader within You, and the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.

In May 2014, Maxwell was named #1 leadership and management expert in the world by Inc. Magazine.


Are you interested improving your leaderships skills with your family, community, co-workers, or employees? Then this book is the right book for you!

Law #1: The Law of the Lid

Leadership ability determines a person’s effectiveness.

The ability to lead is the “lid” that determines a person’s effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his or her potential. The better a person is at leading, the higher the lid on his or her potential for achievement.

For example, Maxwell speaks of in the book of two brothers Dick and Maurice who opened one of the first fast food hamburger restaurants in the 1930s in Southern California. At first they served hot dogs, fries, shakes, beef sandwiches, fork sandwiches, hamburgers, and a slew of other items. In the 1940’s they streamlined their service, reduced their menu, focused on hamburgers, eliminated fine china, and switched to plastic or paper products instead.

Today, you know this company the brother’s started as McDonald’s.


By the 1950s, their annual revenue for the restaraunt was over $350,000. The brothers took home about $100,000 split between the two of them each year. But despite their success, they were not true leaders. The brothers tried to franchise their restaurants and sold only 15 licenses. Of those 15 licenses only 10 became actual successful restaurants.

One reason the brother’s were unable to take the company further was they were excellent at teaching others customer service and kitchen organization. Yet the McDonald brothers lacked the leadership skills to make a larger enterprise successful.

In contrast, Ray Kroc joined them in 1954 and proved himself  to be a powerhouse of leadership. He assembled a team of the best people he could find, worked hard, and sacrificed a lot for the business. Ray Kroc took no salary for the first eight years with the company. In 1961, he bought the McDonald brothers out for $2.7 million. Today, the company has more than 31,000 stores in 119 countries. The McDonald brothers’ weak leadership put a lid on their ability to succeed. The leadership “lid” on Ray Kroc’s life gave McDonald’s the needed boost to make it into the giant success story it is today.

Everywhere you look you can find examples of success being limited by lack of leadership.


For example, Steve Wozniak was known as the brains behind Apple in the 1970’s. Yet Wozniak’s leadership lid was low. By contrast, Steve Jobs’ leadership lid was sky high. Through Job’s leadership Apple revolutionized the world with the personal computer, iPod, iPhone, iPad,  and he built a world-class organization out of Apple.

4 Steps To Apply the Law of the Lid

Step 1. List 3-4 of your major life goals – try to include at least one that requires cooperation from others.

Step 2. Self-assess your leadership skills on a scale of 1 to 10. Here’s the top 10 qualities that make a leader according to Forbes to get you started.

Step 3. Ask 3 other people you trust to rate your leadership on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high): A friend, a relative, a co-worker or supervisor.  Ask them to be brutally honest or the exercise loses its value.

Step 4. Compare other people’s scores to your own assessment. What did you find? Did what you think match up with what others thought?

On a side note winners for the EagleSoaringHigher January 2016 giveaway of the $50 Amazon gift card and the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership have been selected! Also don’t forget to join our Facebook discussion group in Book Worms – The Book Club.

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Are you interested in improving your leadership skills? What do you think of the Law of the Lid? 

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About Jonathan Key 112 Articles
Jonathan graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Ouachita Baptist University. He also holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. While he works for a contractor buying specialized tools, his passion is personal finance, frugal living, blogging, and stewardship.


  1. I think it is true that in business, leadership is key. On the other hand, no one who worked with Jobs would ever say that he had a leadership style worth emulating. He did have a huge impact, but the cost to the team members was very high. So was the $$ reward, but the cost for so many was losing their families. It’s a tough balance and something to think about.
    Carol Cassara recently posted…Vulgarity is not comedyMy Profile

  2. Hey Jonathan,

    What an excellent series. I grew up attending Skyline Church, when John Maxwell pastored there. He left to focus on his company, shortly after I graduated from high school. Nevertheless, his teachings and ideas continue to be major influence in my life. I remember attended a 21 Laws of Leadership, launch event, and knowing then and there, that leadership was something I wanted to study extensively. Thank you for this refresher-course on a key leadership principals, that I have grown to know and love. Wishing you an incredible week!
    Jed recently posted…Becoming Mom in a Blended Family HomeMy Profile

    • Amanda thanks for reading and checking out the blog! Might want to think about some life goals this year. Direction helps steer the ship after all. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • A homemaker or homeschooling mom can still be very influential and a leader. She leads and influences her family. She leads and influences her community or church. She can also help her husband see how this applies to his life in his family, career, community, and church. Thanks for reading Andrea!

  3. The idea of asking others to rate your leadership is a bit scary, but that just reinforces that leadership requires relationship and vulnerability. I might test some of these ideas out at work. Thanks for a great post!

    • Hey Brooke I agree asking others for their honest opinion can be tough. I think you’d find that authentic leadership is highly respected in the work place. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I’m not sure I’m ready to hear what others think my leadership lid is. I know that I’ve really been working on what makes a good leader. I can know a lot, but not be able to teach. And I can know the way, but no one wants to follow. Learning how to listen, think, be present, demonstrate empathy, meet people where they are while encouraging them to reach further are all skills I’ve started recently honing. I am already seeing some changes just by adjusting how I first respond to people. I will keep paying attention to my lid. Thanks!
    Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard recently posted…Divorce him for the Dishes by the Sink?My Profile

  5. I have never been disappointed with one of Maxwell’s books. I found the McDonald’s story interesting. I have a Son-in-law who is a leader and has his own company as well as several rental properties by the time he was 19. Each Christmas he asks for leadership books. I think real leaders never stop learning.

  6. Wow, this is just the introduction. The former entrepreneur in me is very intrigued by this. I think I will have to add this book to my list this year. This also brings me back to Entrepreneurial Marketing from college, many,many years ago. Yep, I look forward to seeing your perspective and will definitely be reading this.

    • De you totally should add this one to your list. Feel free to join the discussion group too. What all were you involved with? Did you own your own business? What tips would you give to others? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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