Capped (The Law of the Lid)

Over the next 21 weeks, we will be exploring John C. Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow them and people will follow you.  Ultimately, the goal is to improve both your and my leadership abilities.  “Everything rises and falls on leadership.  The Laws of Leadership carry consequences with them.  Apply the laws and people will follow you.  Violate or ignore them and you will not be able to lead others.  But here’s the good news: every one of the laws can be learned.” – John C. Maxwell

In the first law–the law of the lid, we begin to understand that there is a lid on a person’s leadership ability and this lid determines his level of effectiveness.  The lower a person’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his leadership ability, and the lower his effectiveness.  On the contrary, the higher the leadership ability, the greater the effectiveness. Your leadership ability always determines your effectiveness.

We all need to understand the effect of leadership toward improving our overall potential and personal effectiveness. Improving your personal effectiveness involves two major approaches. Improving your personal ability is the first approach and improving your leadership ability is the second.

A person can improve personal effectiveness by focusing on improved personal ability. According to the Law of Diminishing Returns (not one of the 21, but a good one), at some point the applied effort exceeds the benefit received. Striving to improve your personal ability results in only a small return on your investment or a small improvement in your personal effectiveness.

Despite the small to moderate returns, many people focus on this approach to improve personal effectiveness for several reasons.

  1. We have more control over this method.
  2. We tend to believe that doing things ourselves is the most expedient way to complete tasks.
  3. Because after dedicating the time to improve our personal ability, we are often reluctant to share knowledge with others for fear of losing the edge we achieved through our dedication to personal excellence.

However, striving to improve personal effectiveness in these ways leads to several problems.

  • The approach returns smaller gains with increased effort.
  • If you always do things yourself, you will always have to do those things.
  • The margin of performance between you and your peers or competitors is often short lived. Personal effectiveness is limited without leadership ability.

Even moderate improvements in leadership ability result in significant improvement in personal effectiveness. Improving your ability to lead multiplies your personal effectiveness. Of course, this requires a change in the mindset discussed earlier because that mindset inhibits your personal growth. To reach higher levels of personal effectiveness, you must raise the level of the leadership lid.

H5H Action Step:

  • What are your major goals? Write them down. If your major goals need the cooperation and participation of others, your leadership ability significantly effects your effectiveness or ability to reach those goals.

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.