Law of the Lid – Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership

In his book, ’21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,’ John C. Maxwell suggested that your leadership is like a lid or a ceiling. It simply means that an organization (or a body even a country) performance will not rise beyond the leader’s leadership capability. In other words, the effectiveness is highly dependent on one’s leadership ability.

“Everything rises and falls on Leadership” – John C. Maxwell
Not something, not most of the thing… it’s everything…

That is why, for most non-performing organization, the only way to increase the performance is only by raising up the leadership capability, or replace the leadership role with more capable leaders. For a performing organization, when we replace the leader with less capable leader, the organization performance will fall to align with the leader’s capability.

For example, the McDonald’s Fast Food Chain. Everybody knows McDonald’s, don’t we? Even my kids know it very well. But did you know how it started? It was initially run by McDonald brothers who have a small restaurant selling hamburgers. There is one day, one franchisee wanted to name the restaurant McDonald’s, they asked “Why?” They started in the first three years by selling fifteen McDonald’s franchise, however, only ten that really operated. Until one guy, name Ray Kroc, who is the owner of a milk-shake machine company, who supplied to McDonald, saw the vision of making McDonald’s a successful franchise business. He turn it into an organization, a successful one. In four years, he successfully opened 100 restaurant; the other four years there were 500. Now the organization have 34,000+ restaurant worldwide, and still growing. What Ray Kroc brought into the company was his leadership. He got the vision and he sacrifice a lot (by not withdrawing any money in the first eight years).

Great Leaders will enhance the overall performance of an organization
If you want to bring a company sky high, you need to find a good leader and put them in it. This is true in business, country or any team. If an organization is not performing, by replacing the top executive with more capable leader might be one of the strategy that most organizations did. In any country, if we have a good leader, the country will grow and develop with a lot of progress, even in sports team to get a good team we need a good coach, not necessarily good players.

Apple is another example. They were founded by two key person, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Even Woz was consider the brain behind the Apple’s technology, Jobs is playing the leadership role in moving the company forward. Once they remove him from the company, the performance of the company was not as good as before, aligning to the next CEO leadership lid. Until they call him back to lead the company, which is when the company became the most valuable company in the world. This also because of Jobs leadership lid has greatly enhanced after learning from the lesson of been fired, starting NeXT and Pixar.

Great leaders will attract more of great people

I have attended one session with the Group CEO of Axiata, Dato’ Seri Jamaludin Ibrahim. One of the most valuable point that he made (which still stuck in my brain until now) was:

“The moment you bring great people to the team, they will bring great people below them. And so-on and so-forth. Because if you have a mediocre guy, they will bring in mediocre guys below. So you get a tremendous effect all the way down.”

As a leader, you attract people based on who you are, not who you want. This is what we called ‘the Law of Magnetism’. To bring together great people in a team, you should become a great leader first. This again apply the law of the lid, where people don’t want to follow people with a lower leadership capability. Talented people don’t want to follow a mediocre leader as they will not be able to perform the best in that kind of environment.

The best way to become a great leader is by becoming better at who you are. We should improve our leadership capability every single day. The best way is to work harder on ourselves, than we work on our job.

According to John Maxwell, the 5 rules of leadership are:

  1. Everyday I lead myself
  2. Everyday I add value to other people
  3. Everyday I study leadership
  4. Everyday I practice leadership
  5. Everyday I intentionally grow
May you obtain a greater success by enhancing your leadership ability!

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