“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I first heard those words from John Maxwell in a conference where he was speaking on his new book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition). My library is filled with books that focus on leadership, but this continues to be my favorite book on the subject. However, the day I heard him say these words was not a good day.
For some time I had been frustrated with how things were going in our small business. I believed that if our employees would do things differently that things would turn around, and we could become the kind of company I wanted. At the same time, I was frustrated with the lack of growth the church I pastored was experiencing. I was convinced that if our people would try harder to invite people to church that we could grow. When Maxwell said “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” his words hit me like a ton of bricks. He was telling me the problems we had in our company and church were my fault! I wanted to blame everyone else for those problems, and he was blaming me!
Frankly, I got angry at Maxwell. As I was trying to process his words and justify my original desire to blame everyone else I never heard him talk about the next two laws. Fortunately, I realized that he was right. Neither our business nor our church would ever improve until I became a better leader. It was true then, and it continues to be true today.
Leaders cast vision for their organizations. They create culture in those organizations. They establish the foundation for everything that happens. If leaders set high standards for how things will be done, and hold people accountable, the organization will usually be a high performing organization. If the leadership doesn’t care the organization will show that as well.
Good leaders will attract other good leaders to become part of their team. Poor leaders will attract followers who must continually be managed. Which do you think will most benefit your company?
When I left that conference I knew I had to improve as a leader. The good news is that leadership can be learned. I do believe that some people are born leaders, but whether you have natural leadership abilities or not, anyone can grow as a leader.
Maxwell talks about the leadership lid. If your lid is a four, your organization can never rise above a three in effectiveness. But, if your lid rises to an eight, your organization can also rise and become more effective. Again, the good news is that anyone can raise the lid of their leadership. These principles can be learned.
If the organization you are leading is struggling, first look at your own leadership for answers. If you haven’t read Maxwell’s book I recommend you get it today. You may find the answers you need there.