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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership summary

Follow Them and People Will Follow You

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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell offers insights and strategies on how to become a great leader. It covers 21 laws that can help individuals develop their leadership skills and achieve success in their personal and professional lives.

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    The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
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    The Law of Influence and the Law of Empowerment

    In 1832, a tall, gangly young man called Abraham Lincoln gathered a group of volunteers to fight in a militia in the Black Hawk War. There was just one problem: Lincoln knew absolutely nothing about being a soldier. He had no knowledge of tactics – in fact, he’d never served in the military. 

    During his time in the militia, Lincoln’s level of influence actually decreased. He began as a captain and ended as a mere private. Afterward, he spent time in the Illinois state legislature and the US House of Representatives with mediocre results. 

    Yet we know that Lincoln eventually grew enormously influential, led the Union to victory in the Civil War, and is today one of the most popular US presidents of all time. So, what changed? 

    The Law of Influence states that the truest measure of leadership is, well, influence. Leaders may not always look powerful, impressive, or charismatic – and they may not always have been born great. But the one thing they must have is influence. 

    So, how can you gain influence for yourself? Well, there are several key skills you can focus on. One central factor is character – who are you on the inside? Although this may seem like an intangible, wishy-washy concept, your followers (if you’re lucky enough to have some) will have a surprisingly good gauge on your depth of character. The more able they are to sense that character – the real you – the more likely they’ll be to keep following. Another way to obtain influence is by building up your own personal bank of knowledge. Lincoln never attended college, but if you’ve read any of his speeches, you’ll know that he was an incredibly learned man. 

    Lincoln embodied not only the Law of Influence but also the Law of Empowerment. This is the law that says secure leaders are willing to give power to others.

    Lincoln was well known for his willingness to cede power and authority. Just look at how he selected his cabinet. Many so-called leaders choose to surround themselves with like-minded yes-men. But not Lincoln. Instead, he deliberately chose cabinet members who would challenge him and bring diverse arguments to the table. To him, that was more important than being personally comfortable. 

    Lincoln’s dedication to the Law of Empowerment was also evident when it came to his attitude toward choosing military generals. Lincoln chose his generals himself and wrote to them personally. When they performed well, he gave them credit. And when they performed poorly, Lincoln took the blame. The Union generals succeeded because Lincoln stood strong and secure in his leadership.

    What made Lincoln’s use of the Law of Empowerment so successful was his belief in others. If you believe in another person, they’ll find it difficult not to believe in themselves too. 

    So a good question to ask yourself is, Do you believe in the people around you? And there’s an easy way to find out. Make a list of the people closest to you. Then rate each person’s potential on a scale of one to ten. Remember, you’re rating their potential here –⁠ not their current ability. If all of their numbers are low, then perhaps there’s a lesson to learn: your belief in other people is probably not very high. 

    Now, for each person on the list, take some time to write down their greatest strengths – and imagine how they might be able to leverage those strengths to achieve something spectacular. What could they become if they really made the most of their gifts? And what could you do to help them succeed?

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    What is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership about?

    The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (1998) collects key rules, principles, and examples from a diverse collection of inspiring leaders throughout history. We often speak about “born leaders,” as if a person either has the special X factor of leadership or they don’t. In fact, leadership is learned –⁠ and by studying what enabled the world’s best leaders to attract followers and make an impact, we too can do the same. 

    The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership Review

    The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (1998) by John C. Maxwell is an essential book for anyone looking to enhance their leadership skills. Here's why this book should be on your reading list:

    • With its practical, actionable principles, it empowers readers to develop their leadership abilities and excel in their personal and professional lives.
    • By incorporating real-life examples and insightful anecdotes, the book provides a clear understanding of how these laws apply in various contexts and situations.
    • Its engaging storytelling and keen observations make the journey through leadership captivating, ensuring that readers never find their attention waning.

    Who should read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership?

    • Managers, founders, executives, and CEOs
    • Activists seeking to make an impact
    • Anyone who wants to improve their people skills

    About the Author

    John C. Maxwell is a leadership expert, professional speaker, pastor, and author. He regularly gives talks at Fortune 500 companies, the NFL, and the US Military Academy at West Point. He’s also the founder of EQUIP, an international leadership development organization. His best-selling books include Developing the Leader Within You and 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. 

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    The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership FAQs 

    What is the main message of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership?

    The main message of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is that leadership is a skill that can be learned and developed.

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    The reading time for The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in a few minutes.

    Is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is worth reading because it provides valuable insights and practical principles for effective leadership.

    Who is the author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership?

    The author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is John C. Maxwell.

    What to read after The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell
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