Book Review #2: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (John C. Maxwell)

John Maxwell is listed by many as the number one most influential person in the sphere of leadership training and coaching. His books has been translated to over 20 languages worldwide and are often best-sellers. I got this book over eBay and it sat on my bookshelf for a few months. I’ve read that this book is the “Number 1” book for leadership; I had high hopes for it. Within the first 30 minutes, my hope turned to cynicism. I have been reading leadership books for quite a while. And I daresay that this one disappointed me, a lot.

There are 21 “laws” that Maxwell thinks are the foundation of leadership. These laws are:
1. The Law of the Lid: Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness.
2. The Law of Influence: The True Measure of Leadership Is Influence—Nothing More, Nothing Less.
3. The Law of Process: Leadership Develops Daily, Not in a Day.
4. The Law of Navigation: Anyone Can Steer the Ship, but It Takes a Leader the Chart the Course.
5. The Law of Addition: Leaders Add Value by Serving Others.
6. The Law of Solid Ground: Trust Is the Foundation of Leadership.
7. The Law of Respect: People Naturally Follow Leaders Stronger Than Themselves.
8. The Law of Intuition: Leaders Evaluate Everything with a Leadership Bias.
9. The Law of Magnetism: Who You Are Is Who You Attract.
10. The Law of Connection: Leaders Touch a Heart Before They Ask for a Hand.
11. The Law of The Inner Circle: A Leader’s Potential Is Determined by Those Closest to Him.
12. The Law of Empowerment: Only Secure Leaders Give Power to Others.
13. The Law of the Picture: People Do What People See.
14. The Law of Buy-in: People Buy into the Leader, Then the Vision.
15. The Law of Victory: Leaders Find a Way for the Team to Win.
16. The Law of the Big Mo: Momentum Is a Leader’s Best Friend.
17. The Law of Priorities: Leaders Understand That Activity Is Not Necessarily Accomplishment.
18. The Law of Sacrifice: A Leader Must Give Up to Go Up.
19. The Law of Timing: When to Lead Is As Important As What to Do and Where to Go.
20. The Law of Explosive Growth: To Add Growth, Lead Follower–To Multiply, Lead Leaders.
21. The Law of Legacy: A Leader’s Lasting Value Is Measured by Succession.

It didn’t really occur to me that this book contains 21 “laws” until I held it in my hand because it only has 230 or so pages and that made me skeptical. That is a lot of information for such a small book. After reading it, I was right. This book outlines the basis of leadership with all the “laws”, which many reviewers on Goodreads note are “common sense”. I have to agree; the points outlined in this book is terribly vague. Maxwell offers a lot of examples for each point, but often he fails to make a solid case for why that case study was used. Often, I felt that he just picked the name of the CEO of a company or the coach of a sports team out of a hat and went with it. I am sure he did not and he had his reasons for picking them, but he jumped to conclusions that that person was a good leader because he had this quality. Mainly because of this, I faced a lot of resistance getting through to the end because a lot of it felt like irrelevant extras.

This is not my first book by Maxwell. I read “The 360 Degree Leader” last year and I enjoyed that tremendously and found many of its points applicable and relevant and backed up properly by case studies. This book just felt inadequate.

Despite all those comments, this book provides a decent general overview of leadership. Perhaps I just was not the right audience.

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