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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

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256 pages, Hardcover

Published September 16, 1998

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About the author

John C. Maxwell

577 books4,896 followers
John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and INJOY Stewardship Services. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and audiences as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and ambassadors at the United Nations. A New York Times , Wall Street Journal , and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was named the World's Top Leadership Guru by Leadershipgurus.net. He was also one of only 25 authors and artists named to Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Three of his books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership , Developing the Leader Within You , and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold over a million copies.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,504 reviews
Profile Image for Bernard Fruga.
Author 2 books36 followers
November 1, 2012
Here they are, all the 21 from Maxwell’s book:
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.
Profile Image for treehugger.
498 reviews84 followers
July 26, 2009
Ugh. I think there were important lessons in this book, but they were obfuscated by Maxwell's "horn tooting" and "back slapping". Wow, this man LOVES himself, and he thinks he has the most impressive history of EVER.

I DID love his descriptions of Harriet Tubman as a female leader, and even Mother Teresa. Shortly after these examples though, he lost me. I had to quit reading when he talked (AT LENGTH) about how his wife leads in the home. She EXCELS at making sure his clothes match, and at decorating and coordinating colors. Yup. That's it. That's HER CONTRIBUTION. OMG GAG ME. I was gently reminded to regard his point of view as a generational difference, but I'm still angry enough to see it as totally sexist and paternalistic.

Also, the way he manipulated people in the churches he lead was simply that, MANIPULATION, not really leadership. Why is this guy so popular??

Perhaps I'll go back and read the last 9 laws or whatever, but it'll be awhile.
10 reviews1 follower
January 20, 2009
It was ok. Again I read this book because it is a business book and was recommended by this work thing I was doing. The category it notes next to the barcode is business/religion- not exactly what you want to see on a business book. There were lots of references to church and organized church that kind of threw me off from the interesting stories that really took up most of the book. The stories in the book are related to mostly historical references of other businesses- short stories and for the most part- it seemed like most of the "irrefutable" laws- were common sense, for most of us...
Profile Image for Alex Duncan.
40 reviews6 followers
June 26, 2013
As a leader, or if you aspire to be one this book is a must read. Here's what's inside:

I. The Law Of the Lid:

II. The Law of Influence:

III. The Law of Process:

IV. The Law of Navigation:

V. The Law of Addition:

VI. The Law of Solid Ground:

VII. The Law of Respect:

VIII. The Law of Intuition:

IX. The Law of Magnetism:

X. The Law of Connection: Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.

XI. The Law of the Inner Circle: A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him

XII. The Law of Empowerment: Only secure leaders give power to others

XIII. The Law of the Picture: People do what people see.

XIV. The Law of Buy-in: People buy into the leader, then the vision.

XV. The Law of Victory: Leaders find a way for the team to win.

XVI. The Law of the Big Mo: Momentum is a leader’s best fried

XVII. The Law of Priorities: Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.

XVIII. The Law of Sacrifice: A leader must give up to go up.

XIX. The Law of Timing: When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go.

XX. The Law of Explosive Growth: To add growth, lead followers—to multiply, lead leaders.

XXI. The Law of Legacy: A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.
Profile Image for مشاري الإبراهيم.
Author 3 books892 followers
July 20, 2021
Another disappointing overrated book by John Maxwell. It's all about 'what' to do without showing 'how' to do it.

I had to close the book half way through.

It is those kinds of books that really make me distrust public wisdom.
Profile Image for Darlene.
250 reviews83 followers
January 19, 2022
I thought this was a very well-planned out book with just enough detail and no extra fluff - i.e., quite the rarity for a leadership book. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Karina.
3 reviews
November 1, 2012
This is a book all leaders, born or made, should read. Maxwell’s leadership laws are succinct and highly useful. He supports the laws with real business stories and leadership anecdotes, then he shows you how to apply these laws (each chapter ends with practical strategies and activities to help you reflect and grow your leadership abilities). Honestly, I couldn’t stop reading. It’s one of the few digestible and practical leadership books available. Another great book, Leadership 2.0, does this as well—and it includes an online leadership test that tells you where you are as a leader today and what you can do about it. Definitely check it out. But here are the main points from each chapter/law of “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”:

I. The Law Of the Lid: Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.

II. The Law of Influence: The true measure of leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.

III. The Law of Process: Leadership develops daily, not in a day.

IV. The Law of Navigation: Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.

V. The Law of Addition: Leaders add value by serving others.

VI. The Law of Solid Ground: Trust is the foundation of leadership

VII. The Law of Respect: People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves

VIII. The Law of Intuition: Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias

IX. The Law of Magnetism: Who you are is who you attract

X. The Law of Connection: Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.

XI. The Law of the Inner Circle: A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him

XII. The Law of Empowerment: Only secure leaders give power to others

XIII. The Law of the Picture: People do what people see.

XIV. The Law of Buy-in: People buy into the leader, then the vision.

XV. The Law of Victory: Leaders find a way for the team to win.

XVI. The Law of the Big Mo: Momentum is a leader’s best fried

XVII. The Law of Priorities: Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.

XVIII. The Law of Sacrifice: A leader must give up to go up.

XIX. The Law of Timing: When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go.

XX. The Law of Explosive Growth: To add growth, lead followers—to multiply, lead leaders.

XXI. The Law of Legacy: A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.
Profile Image for Wendy Welch.
Author 14 books123 followers
October 6, 2009
Hey, it's good work if you can get it, writing self-help books for the Christian market. This one explains carefully things like how important it is to listen. And it chooses the cutest little examples - like how the McDonald's founders were nice guys and good salespeople but they really didn't have a leadership perspective so the restaurant never got going until this Ray guy came along....

He left out the part about the invention that freeze dried potatoes. In fact, any time anything might have touched on complications to his assertion that one person had "it" and one person didn't, he just left it out. I guess if you think your readers are dumb, you can do that.

Fair enough, though. I shouldn't have picked up a book designed for older white men in Christian leadership and expected it to apply to me. Crimeny!
Profile Image for Paula W.
352 reviews71 followers
December 28, 2021
My boss, who made our leadership team read this, is absolutely gonna hate my review. But this was seriously the most bullshit leadership training book I have ever read.
2,346 reviews31 followers
August 5, 2012
I attended a DEC meeting at Toastmasters recently. A friend of mine discussed this book during the meeting. I liked what she said. At this point all I can say is that I enjoyed how I felt about what she said as I do not recall exactly the point she made. That is a theory I have been testing lately; we rarely can describe the content of what was said but merely react to the how what was said made us feel. This is very much the case in this regard.

Anyhow, I checked this out of our public library. I am dubious of 21-point plans. Isn't that the hit Mitt Romney takes on his 59-point plan? It has too many facets. We like simple presentations: the six principles of . . . , 3 Ways of Improving Your Life, etc.

I just read the first irrefutable law: The Law of the Lid. It is argued that there is a capacity to our leadership and some people's lid is higher than others. The McDonald Brothers v. Ray Kroc was used. Good example. I take offense, however, with "I also believe that personal success without leadership ability brings only limited effectiveness." Limited effectiveness of what? I believe I have had success with little (organizational) leadership. What effectiveness am I limited in?

The second irrefutable law is the law of influence. Throughout the chapter I have been musing in my head that this is a tough law for people like me who have no juice because we lack position. Position provides influence. But Maxwell addresses this well in showing how influence comes without position (Mike Shanahan and Elway's relationship outside of Dan Reeves being head coach). Then he addresses it directly by highlighting that in volunteer organizations, leadership is all influence since position doesn't provide one the juice it does in the military or in business. He quotes Harry Overstreet, "The very essence of all power to influence lies in getting the other person to particiapte."

The third irrefutable law is that of process. This law states the obvious; one doesn't become a leader overnight. It takes preparation. Constantly learn so one is ready when his time arrives.

The Law of E.F. Hutton. Who listens? Maxwell explains that leaders are the ones listened to. Consider meetings you attend. Who is listened to? That is the leader, not necessarily the one in charge. I keep thinking of that ill-fated School Improvement Team meeting. It was very much like this until . . .

The law of solid ground is the sixth irrefutable law. More simply put, trust in leadership is a must. D'oh!

Another self-evident leadership exemplar is respect. The 21 laws are beginning to sound like common sense. I have read seven of them now. I would be hard-pressed to name those seven without referring to my notes. The list will be unwielding before it is finished.

Law 8 is the law of intuition. Leaders naturally see opportunity. Military leaders were examined. This book was written in 1998. Another issue was discussed; Steve Jobs returning to Apple. Maxwell tapped into something that wasn't known when published; namely, Jobs would turn around Apple. Jobs was a leader. It's funny because I recall the scourge Apple was in those years before Jobs returned.

This law is a bit iffy as it is difficult to describe/quantify intuitiveness, but it does appear to be a quality that leaders have.

The law of magnetism is another one of the "well d''oh" laws. A leader attracts those who are like homself. Hitler, a good leader, attracted like-minded (evil) folks. Tex Schram of the Dallas Cowboys did similarly. This chapter focused heavily on the business side of leadership. I approach things from the unconvential leader and/or volunteer organization. From my perspective, attraction is a little different in those situations as the field is set somewhat and the leader has to work within what's already there. Nevertheless, there's something to magnetism to consider.

The law of connection is one of my weaknesses but also one area I have been addressing of late. I mentioned it above. Often, it isn't what you say but how you make others feel that matters. I was reared to be serious. I excel at that. I am quite aware, however, that others perceive that seriousness at a distance. I've known for decades that I am standoffish. I recall that when I was a restaurant manager many commented how they perceived me differently before they got to "know" me. I relished that for a long time.

These days, however, I realize that is problematic for me. I don't make the connections I should. My lack of promotions are directly related to this as well. I am addressing it. Specifically when it comes to speaking, I am trying to incorporate how my approach makes my audience feel. I am going for my folksy/comfortable themes. I think that will help. Connecting with audiences is what it is all about; otherwise, why speak at all?

The Law of the Inner Circle is one that most, I think, would agree is important. Leaders have a small group close to them with whom they trust. That is important to success. Again, for those who are non-traditional leaders, that circle can be non-existent. Perhaps I am not a leader; I have no inner circle. I have no power, but we learned earlier, a leader doesn't need to. Does a leader have to have an inner-core group? Probably not given the non-traditional. This is definitely a law of organizational leadership.

The Law of Empowerment is a facet of leadership I am quite familiar with, albeit from the opposing side. I was part of a team once. We began to make strides forward. Morale was high for we truly believed in our work. I grew. I recall feeling proud as I accepted some things I had formerly been against because I saw how they would help the cause. All was right with the world . . . until I was disempowered. That is a heart-breaking thing. Maxwell nailed it that some leaders have a weak self-concept to empower those around her to lead. That is what happened with me. Cut off at the knees, I was stripped and humiliated to the point where I was battered into lemming mode. Here I sit today. It's akin to a love that has gone bad and now he refuses to love again. For me, my leadership is now directed elsewhere. Spiteful, perhaps. Conservative, indeed.

The lesson is that a leader needs to empower those around him. Do not take credit but look to provide credit to others. A leader survives through the accomplishments of others.

The latest chapter purports that leaders generally are bred by other leaders ("it takes one to know one" mentality). That is easy to accept generally, but what about someone like me? I am not on a corporate escalation program. I am not being bred for anything. In some ways, I am institutionally confined. Regardless, if one accepts that the law of reproduction is necessary, then folks like me can never be leaders as there are no coattails on which to swing.

GE may have generated plenty of leaders as have Bill Walsh and Tom Landry, but there has to be the ability of independently sowed leadership to emerge or the American Dream disappears. Paradigm shifts, it seems to me, are created out of leadership that emerges. Steve Jobs was not classicly groomed for the job, correct?

Leaders need to be followed or else there is no one to lead. That is where the Law of Buy-In comes in. Maxwell argues that the people first buy into the leader. Once done, then they buy into the leader's vision. He used Bill Clinton, Ghandi, and himself as examples. I could use a more thorough fleshing out of this topic to help me. This is a sticking point for me as it seems to put charisma above content. This is something I have always struggled with as I don't really care much for the Slick Willies of the world. I can excuse faux pas when the mission is correct.

But there is no denying that Clinton was an effective (and still is) leader. Addressing my failings and working to spruce up the package in which the leadership is presented is something I am trying to do presently. That would indicate there is something to the buy-in. It's distressing in one sense in that time and energy need to be spent in this, thus lessening the efficiency. Leadership capacity is increased in the long run so I gather the pay-off is worth it. Public speaking, reading a teleprompter, etc. are all things that help the leader appear to connect, thus helping the people buy into him. Then the vision is delivered. It seems to me this describes President Obma to a T.

Victory. We want to win. A leader ensures victory. This seems a basic tenet of leadership. Coaches strive to win. Generals focus on victory. There was a good description of Winston Churchill here. The important thing about victory, and we see this in the military sense these days too, is clearly define what victory is. A principal in a school strives for victory, but it will not be the same as the general on the battlefield. That was not discussed at all, surprising this reader.

The Law of Momentum is merely that it is easier to steer a moving ship than a lethargic one. Movement forward is important. Going from a resting state to a moving one is hard. Physics tells us that the greatest amount of energy is needed to get moving. Once moving, less energy is required to continue so. Again, did it take a book to point this out?

The Law of Priorities tells us that leaders focus their efforts on those things that will deliver the most bang for the buck. According to Maxwell, a leader should spend 80% of his time on the top 20% of his priorities. This all sounds reasonable to me.

I put this a slightly different way. Instead of trying to address everything, a leader must focus his attention on one or two areas. This theme is what he can then point everyone to. It is a focused approach. Using common language, after a while, everyone will be on the same page. Again, not earth-shattering news here.

The Law of Sacrifice seems to be the corollary of the Law of Victory. Leaders sacrifice in order to be successful (win). Iacocca was addressed. He sacrificed much to bring Chrysler back. Of course, Maxwell merely passed off the bailout as nothing. Maxwell argues the higher up you progress, the more you give up. Time and family are sacrificed by presidents, for instance. Sure, I accept this. I quibble, however, with his description of MLK. Not so much that MLK sacrificed. Oviously, he did. But being assassinated isn't sacrificing; it's being killed. It isn't exactly like a soldier who vounteers to go into battle. Battle MLK did, but there should not have been an expectation of death. To say so diminishes us, I think. It's a semantics thing, but really, it was a stretch to go there.

The Law of Timing is another leadership quality. It seems to employ much luck. Maxwell worked to dispel that notion. He discussed Carter's unsuccessful helicopter mission to free captives. It was known ahead of time to be a flawed plan. The problem with that is there is always a naysayer who will be critical of a plan. I am sure there were those who doubted the SEAL mission to get bin Laden, yet that was successful. Hindsight is always 20/20. Sometimes being a leader means taking a risk. Maxwell also discussed the Civil War and how Gettysburg was lost because of confederate missed timing and how the war progressed another two years because after Gettysburg Meade didn't follow the confederate troops to wipe them out.

Okay, so timing is important. A leader needs to know when it is time to execute. Isn't that an intangible, though?

The Law of Growth is problematic for me. The idea espoused here is that leaders who grow followers only add to their membership. Leaders who grow leaders multiply their growth. More impact, it is argued, arrives by growing leaders because the organization will grow exponentially.


I've often wondered about the constant emphasis upon growth. Lack of growth is not an indication of stagnation or failure. We see it all the time. Papa John's was offered as a company that continues to grow and won't stop until it is the biggest pizza chain. Does that mean other chains are lesser? I worked for one that was fairly content to be the #1 chain in the market (northeast) without growing the market.

Wawa is huge here. I know they are testing Florida, but I doubt they'll go nationwide. Look at what happened to Circuit City when it did. Starbucks is retreating now from its massive growth. Organizations can be healthy without growing.

I think of my Toastmasters clubs. While a steady influx of new members are needed to maintain, once a club gows to a certain size, it is no longer viable and needs to split. While that may be healthy for TI, for the club itself, it may not be. I am in two clubs that push 50 members. In some respects, not everyone's educational needs are met. The counter is seen by a third club that is remarkably smaller. Educational goals are easily met, but filling out the agenda for each meeting is a stretch since there are so few members. This is a club that needs to grow members, which will in turn grow leaders since we are, "Where leaders are made."

I am also a bit put off that the bulk of the book is about growing members, serving members, etc. and now at the end of the book, that is somewhat frowned upon for the more lofty goal of growing leaders. I smell another book. ;)

The Law of Legacy is the last of the irrefutable laws. It's interesting, but Toastmasters stresses this point; leaders provide for their successors. That's the point. A leader leads for the long view, not for himself. We will all leave our leadership at some point (death, change of jobs, promotion, retirement, etc.). If you have led well, the organization will continue to strive. This is something I am coming around to seeing. My success isn't measured solely by today's bottom line but by whether or not my successor is able to hit the ground running. Prepare for your successor!

I enjoyed thinking about leadership while reading this book. I think there were some very good points made. I also think there is a lot of that "I'm Okay, You're Okay" self-help mentality preached here.

It's an easy read. I don't know if reading this book will make me a better leader, but it has provided me much to consider on the path to becoming a better leader. For that, it was a worthwhile read.
Profile Image for Khalid Almoghrabi.
263 reviews256 followers
January 24, 2014
لا تنسى اصطحاب الناس معك ليصبحوا قادة الغد..
جولة بديعة مع فن القيادة.. فن التأثير والعمل والخلود..
كتاب بديع وانصحك بقراءته ولو لم تكن بوظيفة قيادية
Profile Image for Tony.
107 reviews7 followers
May 5, 2011
If you ask 10 people to recommend five books on leadership, one of John Maxwell’s books will be on every list. Of those books, most people cite “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” as his best work. It’s certainly his most well known.

Concise, Maxwell dictates the 21 laws a leader must follow to get others to follow the leader. Using numerous examples drawn from a variety of people from Mother Teresa to the founders of McDonalds, Maxwell show how people have either used the laws successfully or ignored the laws and failed.

Most of the laws are obvious, for example number 14, The Law of Buy In, states that people buy into the leader and only then do they buy into the vision. That makes intuitive sense and has a practical application in the real world. Early stage technology investors often bet on the jockey, not the horse.

Some readers have dismissed the book because the laws are easy to understand. These critics miss two significant points about the power of the book:
1. “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” codifies and reinforces our thinking. For example, Law Number 17, The Law of Priorities, cautions against equating activity with achievement. Maxwell points out that we must constantly review our priorities to make sure that we are steering the ship in the right direction ( Law 4, The Law of Navigation). Far beyond leaving it there and stating only the obvious, Maxwell adds that we must always evaluate our priorities with the 80/20 rule in mind. Focus 80 percent of your time on the 20 percent of your priorities that will provide the largest return. He notes that the rule is applies equally to developing strategic sales accounts as does it in developing people.
2. “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” is a reminder that leadership is a daily commitment. As Maxwell notes in Law Number 3, leadership is a process that “develops daily, not in a day.” Reading Maxwell’s book reinforces what many of us already know about leadership and reminds us to put those theories into practice every day.

Many books on leadership are long on theory but don’t help the reader understand how to put the theory into practice. Maxwell does not fall into that trap. At the end of every chapter, he lists three activities you can do to apply the law to your life. For example, after Law 13, The Law of the Picture (people do what people see), Maxwell asks his readers to:
1. Make a list of their own core values and compare them to their actions over that past month, noting which activities clash with their core values.
2. Ask a colleague to watch you over a period of time and evaluate where your actions have clashed with your words.
3. Make a list of what you wish you people did better and grade yourself on those skills. With that self evaluation in hand, commit to improving your skills where your people are weakest and be a more visible role model in the areas where you are strongest.

Not every leader will have a proficiency in all 21 Laws. Maxwell admits that a few laws where he does not grade out perfectly.
In Appendix A, Maxwell presents a quick leadership test to help you understand your strengths and weakness as they relate to the laws. Completing the evaluation will help you understand:
• Skills that you can use to mentor of others,
• Areas you need to target for growth and
• Areas where you need to form strategic partnerships to achieve your goals.

Even you don’t read the entire book, filling out the evaluation and understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you reach your potential as a leader and manager.
Because “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” is well written and well organized, it can be read in three ways:
• Cover to cover over a period of days. Like most well-written business books, it’s short, and to the point.
• As the book is well organized and each chapter contains a complete thought, the book can be read over a long period of time with no loss of comprehension.
• Finally, if you just want to know the laws, you can skip to Appendix B to read each law and its one sentence explanation.

Books on leaderships are plentiful, often with competing visions because leadership is more of an art than a science. But Maxwell notes that as with any art, leadership skills can and should be improved through practice. Its evaluation guide in the appendix and chapter endings on applying the laws in your life will help you understand the state of your current skill set and help you plan for growth.
Profile Image for James F.
1,386 reviews89 followers
March 7, 2018
I wasn't even going to review this book, but it might be interesting as a study in how to write a series of best-selling "self-help" books that have according to the book jacket sold over thirteen million copies. There is only one positive thing I can say about this book: it doesn't mention mice or cheese.

The 21 "laws" could more accurately be called 21 truisms, but they are each given an important sounding title like "The Law of Process", "The Law of Connection" and so forth; they amount to saying that being a leader is good, a leader needs to have an instinct for leadership, people follow strong leaders, it takes time to become a leader, leaders attract other leaders, etc. There is nothing about how to do any of these things. This is the basic strategy: make totally empty propositions and the reader will fill them with their own meanings, and then assume that that's what the book was really saying and of course agree with it and consider it profound. None of the "laws" is based on any sort of study, although the author tries to give the appearance of quantification by saying things like, a 7 leader will attract 5s and 6s, and increasing from a 6 to a 7 will actually improve you by 600% (with a little graph based on a rectangle) and so on, but the numbers don't actually mean anything -- what is a 5, what is a 7, it's all just made up.

Each "law" is illustrated with some sort of anecdote which just asserts that the celebrity in question used the "law", which of course most of them would never have heard of in the first place. The subjects of the anecdotes are the ones you would expect to impress the kind of person who reads this kind of book: General Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, Teddy Roosevelt, Billy Graham, Rudy Giuliani, a whole raft of football and basketball coaches, a few CEOs, naturally Southwestern Airlines and of course Steve Jobs -- can anyone write a book like this without Steve Jobs? Looking at the market shares of Apple and Microsoft, you might expect them to talk about Bill Gates, but it's always Steve Jobs.

The real message of the book is under the "Law of Process": "I believe that in about twenty years, you can be a great leader. I want to encourage you to make yourself a lifelong learner of leadership. Read books, listen to tapes regularly, and keep attending seminars." And conveniently, the author sells books, tapes, and seminars. . .

The author is a former "senior pastor" at a 3,500 member church. No comment.
Profile Image for Krista.
411 reviews1,006 followers
November 20, 2019
Great leadership book, but a little dated with some of the examples.
Profile Image for Hesham  ellayeh.
81 reviews
January 23, 2015
كعادته جون سي ماكسويل متمكن من موضوعه-القيادة - طرحه قيم- مبني علي مواقف واقعية وقصص من السير الذاتية
يلخص كل هذا في صورة قوانين أو اشارات
استمتعت يقراءة الكتاب واستفدت منه
21 قانون متنوع - كل قانون يخدم فكرة رئيسية
واليك تلخيصها

1- قانون السقف

القدرة على القيادة تحدد مستوى فعالية المرء

- لكي تغير اتجاه مؤسسه غير القائد

- كلما زادت كانت قدرتك على القيادة اكبر كانت فعاليتك أكبر

2- قانون التأثير

المعيار الحقيقي للقيادة هو التأثير

هناك خمس خرافات عن القيادة

1- خرافة الإدارة:تستطيع أن تكون قائدا دون أن تكون مديرا

2- خرافة رجال الأعمال:ليس كل رجال الأعمال قادة

3- خرافة المعرفة:ليس كل العلماء قادة

4- خرافة الريادة:ليس كل السابقين قادة

5- خرافة المنصب:ليس كل الوجهاء قادة

عوامل تزيد تأثير القادة

1- شخصياتهم:من هم ؟

2- العلاقات:من يعرفون؟

3- المعرفة:مالذي يعرفون؟

4- الحدس:بماذا يشعرون؟

5- الخبرة:ما تجاربهم؟

6- النجاح السابق:مالذي حققوه؟

7- القدرة:مالذي يستطيعون انجازه؟

الجوهر الحقيقي للتأثير هو قدرتك على إقناع الآخرين بالمشاركة

3- قانون النمو

القيادة تتطور يوميا وليس في يوم واحد

مراحل نمو القيادة:

1- لا تعرف ماالذي لا تعرفه

2- تعرف انك بحاجه لان تعرف

3- تعرف ماالذي تعرفه

4- تعرف وتنمو ويبدأ هذا في الظهور بوضوح

5- تنطلق ببساطه بسبب ما تعرفه


1- اكتب خطتك الشخصية للتطور والنمو

2- وفر فرص نمو لمن حولك

4-قانون الملاحة:

أي شخص يستطيع توجيه السفينة ولكن تحديد المسار يتطلب قائدا

((القائد هو الشخص الذي يرى أكثر مما يراه الآخرون وأبعد مما يرى الآخرون وقبل أن يرى الآخرون))

لكي تكون ملاحة جيدة:

1- عليك التأمل والتعلم من أخطائك وتجاربك

2- ادرس الظروف قبل تقديم أي تعهدات ( المالية – الموارد – الطاقات – التوقيت – الثقافة – المعنويات)

3- استمع لآراء الآخرين

4- انظر للعقبات والتحديات بواقعيه ولا تتهاون

آلية جون ماكسويل للملاحة

1- حدد المسار

2- حدد أهدافك

3- رتب أولوياتك

4- أعلم الأفراد المناسبين

5- امنح بعض الوقت للقبول

6- ابدأ العمل

7- توقع المشكلات

8- أشر دائما إلى النجاحات

9- راجع خطتك اليومية

5- قانون الإضافة

القادة يضيفون القيمة عن طريق خدمة الآخرين

كيف نضيف القيمة للآخرين

1- عندما نقدرهم

2- عندما نعرف احتياجاتهم ونقدمها لهم

3- عندما نفعل أشياء يرضى عنها الله

6- قانون الأرض الصلبة

الثقة هي أساس القيادة

الشخصية هي أساس الثقة والثقة هي أساس القيادة

لتطوير شخصيتك عليك أن تنمي 3 مناطق

1- الاستقامة:اقطع على نفسك عهدا أن تكون صادقا تماما

2- الموثوقية:كن ذاتك الطبيعية من غير تكلف ولا تصنع

3- الانضباط:قم بالأشياء الصحيحة في كل وقت بغض النظر عما تشعر به

إن كنت قد خنت الثقة:

1- اعتذر عن الخطأ الذي ارتكبته

2- قم بالإصلاحات المناسبة

7- قانون الاحترام

الناس عادة يتبعون القادة الذين هم أقوى منهم

أفضل 6طرق لكسب الاحترام

1- القدرة الطبيعية على القيادة

2- احترام الآخرين

3- الشجاعة

4- النجاح

5- الولاء : لديه ولاء قوي لمبادئه وفريقه

6- القيمة المضاف للآخرين:يضحي من أجلهم

8- قانون الحدس:

القادة يقيمون كل شيء من منظور قيادي

الحدس هو قدرة القائد على قراءة ما يحدث حوله ( مواقف – أشخاص – اتجاهات)

9- قانون المغناطيسية

شخصيتك تجذب من هم مثلك

تشترك مع تابعيك في هذه المناطق

1- الجيل

2- التوجه الذهني

3- الخلفية

4- القيم

5- الطاقة

6- الموهبة

7- القدرة على القيادة

10- قانون الارتباط

القادة يمسون القلوب أولا قبل أن يطلبوا المساعدة

كيف تنشئ الارتباط

1- ارتبط بنفسك

2- تواصل بانفتاح

3- اعرف جمهورك

4- جسد رسالتك

5- تفهم موقف الآخرين

6- ركز عليهم وليس على نفسك

7- آمن بهم

8- قدم الاتجاه والأمل

11- قانون الدائرة الداخلية:

قدرة القائد تتحدد بواسطة الأشخاص الأكثر قربا منه

صفات الرجال الذين يجب أن يكونوا في دائرتك:

1- له تأثير كبير مع الآخرين

2- يمتلك موهبة مكمله

3- يشغل منصبا استراتيجيا في المؤسسة

4- يضيف قيمه لك وللمؤسسة

5- يؤثر بإيجابيه على أفراد الدائرة الداخلية

كيف تبني دائرة داخليه وتطورها:

1- أعطهم مسؤوليات إضافية

2- اقض وقتا إضافيا معهم لتقديم النصح

3- انسب لهم الفضل واثن عليهم حين ينجحون وحاسبهم حين يقصرون

12-قانون التفويض

القادة الواثقون هم الذين يمنحون السلطة للآخرين

يعجز القادة عن تفويض السلطة لثلاثة أسباب:

1- الرغبة في الأمان الوظيفي

2- مقاومة التغيير

3- نقص قيمة الذات

13-قانون الصورة

الناس يفعلون ما يرون القائد يفعله

تذكر التالي:

1- الأتباع يراقبون دائما ما تفعله

2- تعليم ما هو صواب أكثر سهولة من فعل ما هو صواب

3- يجب أن نعمل على تغيير أنفسنا قبل أن نحاول تحسين الآخرين

4- المنحة الأكثر قيمه التي يمكن أن يعطيها القائد هي القيادة بالقدوة الحسنه

14-قانون الاقتناع:

الناس يقتنعون بالقائد ثم بالرؤية

كيف تزيد مصداقيتك لدى الأفراد

1- إقامة علاقات طيبه معهم

2- أن تكون أمينا وصادقا وبناء الثقة

3- وضع معايير عاليه لنفسك وإعطاء القدوة

4- منحهم الأدوات اللازمة للقيام بعملهم بشكل أفضل

5- مساعدتهم على تحقيق أهدافهم الشخصية

6- تنميتهم وتطويرهم كقادة

15-قانون النصر

القادة يجدون طريقة لكي يفوز الفريق

3 عناصر لفوز الفريق:

1- وحدة الرؤية

2- تنوع المهارات

3- قائد ملتزم بتحقيق النصر ودفع أفراده لتحقيق أقصى إمكانياتهم


1- عليك تحمل مسؤولية فوز الفريق

2- يجب أن يكون حماسك والتزامك وتضحيتك اكبر من أفراد الفريق

إذا كنت غير قادر على اقناع نفسك بالالتزام بمسؤولية النصر للفريق فهناك سبب من هذه الأسباب

1- تسعى وراء رؤية غير مناسبة

2- تعمل في مؤسسة غير مناسبة

3- لست القائد المناسب

16-قانون القوة الدافعة: (الحماس و الاندفاع)

القوة الدافعة هي أوفى صديق للقائد

لزيادة القوة الدافعة:

1- تحمس لرؤيتك وهدفك

2- أبعد المثبطين عنك

3- احتفل بإنجازاتك ولو كانت صغيرة

17-قانون الأولويات:

القادة يدركون أن النشاط لا يعني الانجاز

كيف أركز على أولوياتي:

1- حدد أهدافك ومسؤولياتك

2- حدد الأعمال المترتبة عليها

3- اترك الأعمال التي لا تنسجم مع أهدافك ومسؤولياتك

18-قانون التضحية:

ينبغي للقائد أن يضحي لكي يعلو

أشياء يجب أن تعرفها عن التضحية

1- ليس هناك نجاح بدون تضحية

2- غالبا يكون القادة مطالبين بالتضحية أكثر من غيرهم

3- لا بد أن تستمر في التضحية لكي تبقى أعلى

4- كلما كان مستوى القيادة أعلى كانت التضحية أعظم

19-قانون التوقيت:

توقيت القيادة على نفس قدر أهمية ما تفعله وما ترمي لتحقيقه

أربع احتمالات لإجراءات القائد:

1- الإجراء الخاطئ في الوقت غير المناسب يؤدي لكارثة

2- الإجراء الصحيح في الوقت غير المناسب يؤدي لمقاومة

3- الإجراء الخاطئ في الوقت المناسب يؤدي لخطأ

4- الإجراء الصحيح في الوقت المناسب يؤدي لنجاح

20-قانون النمو المتفجر:

لكي تزيد النمو قم بقيادة أتباع ولكي تضاعف النمو قم بقيادة قادة

21-قانون الإرث:

تقاس القيمة الباقية للقائد بواسطة تراثه

لتطوير إرثك:

1- تعرف على الإرث الذي تريد تركه

2- عش الإرث الذي تريد تركه

3- اختر من سيحمل ويوصل إرثك

4- احرص على تسليم العصى(ساعد من سيحمل إرثك على وضع خطة التوصيل
Profile Image for Clifton Miles.
2 reviews2 followers
January 20, 2013
As a leader who has read this book several times, I take offense to some of the poor reviews listed. Reading the reviews, it's easy to see that those who didn't enjoy it lack the ability to comprehend the enormity of the information they were given. This book will change your life, it is considered by the greatest leaders in the world to be THE premier book on leadership. To some of the individuals who didn't like the book, I will offer this word of advice: It is hard to learn something new, when you already know everything.
Profile Image for Douglas Wilson.
Author 245 books3,460 followers
April 14, 2014
Despite everything, this book was quite good. Maxwell is capable of leaning into the cliches, and he points to some leaders who were painfully incompetent, but who are lauded generally for other reasons, but setting all that aside, the principles outlined in this book were very, very good.
Profile Image for Todd.
105 reviews63 followers
February 21, 2019
Meh. Retread. Most of these "laws" are common sense business. Most of his examples are cited elsewhere--sometimes multiple times--throughout the literature.
Profile Image for Kate Bogan.
5 reviews
September 1, 2022
not gonna finish this. has very obvious conservative and religious undertones that i just don’t fuck with
230 reviews9 followers
November 10, 2022
N-a fost 'Wow', n-a fost 'Cahh', undeva pe la mijloc. Suficient cât să șterg toate celelalte cărți ale autorului din Wishlist-ul de la Bookster. :)
Trebuie să spun că mi s-a părut o chestie foarte joasă modul în care l-a prezentat pe Henry Ford. Nu numai că nu se mai poate apăra, dar din alte surse, știu o poveste sensibil diferită. Oricare ar fi adevărul, mi s-a părut o măgarie.
Plus atitudinea plină de superioritate față de țările în curs de dezvoltare.. Ce să-ți spun, America e atât de grozavă în leadership că s-ar putea să-l aleagă a doua oară pe Trump. Dacă și el e de urmat...
Tocmai am scăzut nota de la 3 la 2 stele - mai bine mă opresc că s-ar putea să-mi amintesc și de alte nemulțumiri. :D
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tony Rogers  Jr..
Author 4 books97 followers
January 27, 2019
Leadership is a vast topic of study. There are thousands of books written on the subject and I’ve read many of them.

In my opinion, with this book, John has put together the most complete, practical and informative book on leadership.

***Note: Not the most inspiring or exciting to read but easily the most complete and practical if you’re looking to learn the functions of a great leader.

This book should be read and consistently re-read by every leader in any capacity. This book will help me become a better leader of my family as well as my organization.

John’s other books Winning with People, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, and Becoming a Person of Influence are must-reads as well.

Tony Rogers Jr
Author of Visionary: Making a difference in world that needs YOU
Profile Image for Stefani.
87 reviews1 follower
June 15, 2016
The fact that someone would rely on this book to help them with their leadership skills terrifies me. If you have to look in a book to discover that people follow those whom they respect, or that you have to have your priorities straight, or that you have to divide and conquer, then perhaps you shouldn't be in a leadership role after all. If the book weren't awful enough as it were, listening to the author slap himself on the back and high five himself about his organizations and achievements repeatedly will make even the most patient reader want to gouge his/her eyes out with spoons. The only thing I learned from this book were a few snippets from the lives of famous CEOs and company founders. Not worth 1/2 a star.
Profile Image for Yvette.
41 reviews
January 16, 2012
This book was fine. It provides a lot of common sense ideas that warrant repeating. Although Maxwell provides many great examples to illustrate his 21 laws, he uses way too many sports examples. If you're not a sports fan (and I'm not), all of the sports illustrations are completely irrelevant. I couldn't care less.
Profile Image for Cori.
801 reviews134 followers
October 7, 2022
Some chapters struck me as incredibly applicable. This could have been a season of life reason or just me. Some didn't jump out so much. But over-all, great book!

I've learned a lot from John Maxwell over the years. He's a leader building leaders he will never meet.

I'd rate this a G.
354 reviews121 followers
February 24, 2018
This is an awesome on leadership. I recommend it to all who obtain a leadership position and to all of those whom desire one.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Profile Image for Omar Halabieh.
217 reviews54 followers
February 4, 2012
As the title indicates, John presents in this book 21 fundamental laws of leadership. The laws are prefaced by four core concepts:

"1) The laws can be learned

2) The laws can stand alone

3) The laws carry consequences with them

4) These laws are the foundation of leadership"

The author then goes on to present the 21 laws, in greater detail filled with examples from both his personal experience and experiences of other great leaders. The laws are summarized below:

"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 take a leader to 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 accomplishement

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 followers - to multiply, lead leaders

21- The law of legacy: a leader's lasting value is measured by succession"

A book filled with leadership wisdom and lessons. The examples provided help one grasp the concepts and understand how they can be applied in every day situations. A great complement to another great book by the same author - The 360 degree leader. Both are highly recommended reads in the area of leadership/personal development.

Below are some excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1) "The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership. The greater the impact you want to make, the greater your influence needs to be."

2) "Personal and organizational effectiveness is proportionate to the strength of leadership."

3) "If you don't have influence, you will never be able to lead others."

4) "Leadership is...Character - Who They Are, Relationships - Who They Know, Knowledge - What They Know, Intuition - What They Feel, Experience - Where They've Been, Past Success - What They've Done, Ability - What They Can Do."

5) Bennis and Nanus: "It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers."

6) "The bottom line in leadership isn't how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others."

7) "When it comes to leadership, you just can't take shortcuts, no matter how long you've been leading your people."

8) "The more leadership ability a person has, the more quickly he recognizes leadership - or its lack - in others."

9) "A leader has to read the situation and know instinctively what play to call."

10) "You can't move people to action unless you first move them with emotion...The heart comes before the head."

11) "Theodore Roosevelt: "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it."

12) "Great leaders always seem to embody two seemingly disparate qualities. They are both highly visionary and highly practical."

13) "The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader and then the dream."

14) "When the pressure is on, great leaders are at their best. Whatever is inside them comes to the surface."

15) "Three components of victory: 1) unity of vision 2) diversity of skills 3) a leader dedicate to victory and raising players to their potential"

16) "Leaders should get out of their comfort zone but stay in their strength zone."

17) "Everything rises and falls on leadership: 1) Personnel determine the potential of the organization. 2) Relationships determine the morale of the organization. 3) Structure determines the size of the organization. 4) Vision determines the direction of the organization. 5) Leadership determines the success of the organization."
Profile Image for Ruqayah Abbas.
14 reviews7 followers
May 31, 2017
During my high-performance leadership program (HPL) and I was working on my leadership skills . I was searching in the youtube to find some easy and quake audiobooks that can help me for this platform. I saw this book, and I promised myself that from March to 20 may I have to apply some of the rules written in the book to my life.
So, let start to tell you my experience and what I felt about it step by step.
Let start only with rules I have comments.

Rule number 1: The Law of the Lid: Leadership Ability Determines a Person's Level of Effectiveness
As I saw the book was considering this as a limit of our leadership abilities. Hard work, efficient management, and knowledge can only bring us so far. If the lid of one's leadership is low, then the potential for success is also low. The key, then, is not just to work hard on achieving success but to work hard on raising one's level of leadership. The results: during my HPL I started to focus on management and how to be trusting them and trying to be focused and calm but sometimes was confusing due to the definition of some people due to leadership skills

Rule number 2. The Law of Influence: The True Measure of Leadership is Influence Nothing More, Nothing Less we should invest in the process of becoming a leader. No one becomes a leader overnight. Even when someone is gifted with natural abilities, one still has to build one's collection of leadership skills. There are many facets to leadership, among which are respect, experience, discipline, and vision. To be an effective leader, one must develop these facets. Doing so takes time.
It reminds me of Toastmasters International that how we have to work and do all of the themes to gain real leadership skills
I learned when I worked as volunteered work since 2013 till now how you can achieve truly skills. When I joined Toastmasters, I was not ready to focus problem, not willing to solve the problem. Not willing to be part of organizer, even not willing to talk in the excoriate meeting . by having leadership lifestyle every day in my Toastmaster journey now I can say no need to be ready! I am already ready!

Rule number 4. The Law of Navigation: Anyone Can Steer the Ship, But It Takes a Leader to Chart the Course: Navigating entails research of information, gathering of ideas from grassroots to mentors, balancing positive thinking with realism, and having a strategy for success.
I already do this procedure since I was 17 years old, so it was not difficult.

Rule number 5. The Law of E.F. Hutton: When the Real Leader Speaks, People Listen this part of the book grab my attention and I checked and said to people about it to give me feedback! That I am a leader or not!
During my HPL project, my team gives me the feedback that 4.4 out of 5 which is fairly good to know that you are the leader that people loves you and listen to you!

Rule number 6. The Law of Solid Ground: Trust Is the Foundation of Leadership: I do not agree that to trust the leader you have to know about his history!
That I believe in trusting the leader you have to see their attitude and priority!

Rule number 7. The Law of Respect: People Naturally Follow Leaders Stronger Than Themselves:
sometimes right and sometimes not ! on these years I see the leaders listen and work as one team and see the people as one of the family is the person followed with many leaders.

Rule number 8. The Law of Intuition: Leaders Evaluate Everything with a Leadership Bias agree with this law.

Rule number 10. The Law of Connection: Leaders Touch a Heart Before They Ask for a Hand
which is true, if you be friendly and connected with others as one part of your family you will feel and have place in their hearts then you can ask for help, and they surely accept and work with no questions

Rule number 14.The Law of Buy-in: People Buy Into the Leader, Then the Vision I disagree. Nowadays people are different they will check vision and mission and everything then they follow and accept the leader

Rule number 21. The Law of Legacy: A Leader's Lasting Value is Measured by Succession
if the author had points and direct ways was easier to understand

finally, this book allows me to know my leadership skills more and polish them more by applying on my HPL and teamwork, it worth to read. im giving this book 5 stars!

Ruqayah Abbas
Profile Image for Ivan.
661 reviews123 followers
April 8, 2013
In this book John Maxwell attempts to present what he deems to be twenty-one irrefutable laws of leadership. In many ways they are irrefutable since they are based on common sense and experience. What Maxwell has done is clearly articulate what leadership is all about. “The true measure of leadership,” writes Maxwell, “is influence—and nothing more, nothing less” (16).

Maxwell uniquely contributes to the genre of leadership literature by importing much of the Christian worldview. Although there is not much of Scripture citation or mention of Jesus, Maxwell borrow extensively from a biblical understanding of leadership. For example, when Maxwell states that “leadership develops daily, not in a day,” there are echoes of a biblical view of growth in the life of believers. We understand, because of the Scriptures, that people do not grow overnight. We know that at times growth is slow and seemingly stagnant, but nonetheless we know that growth is inevitable. Or take for instance Maxwell’s “Law of Addition,” in which he states that “leaders add value by serving others.” If it were left to the secular writes, there is no doubt that most often than not it would be completely missing, or if present it will be a cheap imitation of the truth, appearing more as a means to get others to serve you than for you to serve others. On and on Maxwell, without explicit mention, borrows from a Christian worldview and seeks to draw out principles of leadership.

One of the points I most appreciated and gained from what Maxwell’s “Law of Magnetism.” As Maxwell states it, “who you are is who you attract.” As consider my own ministry and style of leadership, I must forever keep in mind that, of all things, I must work on who I am before the Lord. More than administration, more than teaching, more than meeting with people, I must be a man of holiness and godly virtue before the all-seeing eye of the Lord. It is not enough to work on the outer man and manufacture some cheap style of leadership that is only a shell. And thus as a leader I will inevitably draw those of like-mindedness, those who are “kindred spirits.” “If you want to attract better people,” writes Maxwell, “become the kind of person you desire to attract” (110). That is an invaluable leadership lesson. I must not be merely worrying about what kind of people I need to recruit; I, above all else, must work on who I am and inevitably I will draw that same kind of person toward me.
Profile Image for Neil R. Coulter.
1,055 reviews100 followers
March 3, 2017
Who am I to refute any of the 21 Irrefutable Laws? They're all fine as far as I know.

The only parts of the book that make me feel uncomfortable are when Maxwell writes about leading a church as though it's the same as leading a business. I believe that "success" for any faith community ought to be understood as something other than "exponential growth" and multi-million-dollar building projects. It's very un-American of me, I know; but these silly ideals I have, I just can't get rid of them entirely.

Other than that, everything in this book reads like everything in many other leadership books. Maxwell's laws make most sense in a strictly corporate setting, and are somewhat harder to apply in a non-profit setting. It's not a bad book, and Maxwell has a friendly, positive tone throughout.
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