We were all born to lead – lead our lives, lead our families and lead others. Every single one of us will have to take the lead at some stage of our lives. Not all of us want to – some of us are very comfortable sitting back and letting live happen to us, but we have to . We have to take control of who we are and who are becoming. We have to take control of the live we are living and the person we are becoming. That is what leadership is all about.Leadership ability is just one other skill that we have to develop in life. Because we are all different and unique some of us have been born with more leadership skill and others have been born with less. However, there are two things that we can’t get past. Firstly, we have all been born to lead. And secondly, every single one of us must develop our leadership skills so that we can lead a better live.This series provides 21 “Laws of Leadership”. It is based upon the book by Dr John C Maxwell called “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” and expanded upon using personal examples by the author.
In today’s section, we will look at the Law of the Lid. To explain this principle in simple terms, it basically means that our leadership ability puts the lid on the effectiveness of our lives and of our organisations. The more I develop my leadership skills, the more effective I become as a person and the more effective my organisation becomes in its operation.
Speaking about personal leadership and the impact of the Law of the Lid on our personal lives, I can literally point to every single person. As mentioned before, we are born with a certain amount of leadership skill. But we all know that we have to grow that over time. Nobody was born the perfect leader. We live our lives and we learn. We learn what works and what doesn’t and we refine our approach to live and to people. Remember that leadership is about people. Even personal leadership (Where I lead my live) which is about this person called me. In its essence, Leadership is therefor all about working with people and getting the most out of them.
The moment I learn to take control of my life, to be intentional in what I do, to create a vision that pulls me forward and a plan that gives me direction on how to get there, I learn to lead my life effectively. That immediately increases my effectiveness as an individual and it helps me impact the world around me. For me to achieve more in life, I need to raise that lid. I do that by developing myself and my ability to lead my life.
When it comes to the lid on your organisation, you have to realise that a company can only perform up to the capabilities of its leaders. A weak leader who do not have the ability to inspire, set visions and strategy, communicate effectively and create an environment where people wish to excel, will never be in charge of an organisation that excels. Organisations that perform well invariably have excellent leaders leading them.
I’ve seen that with many “Family-owned” businesses. The ability to lead is limited and therefore the company never really grows beyond the family. In one specific case, I can recall a company that was started by a friend of mine. He is a brilliant man and he has some of the best products and best designs in his industry. But unfortunately his company has not grown to fulfil its real potential despite the fact that his products are better that that of his competitors. Why not? Because his leadership ability is limited and in the process he is the lid for that company. When he learns to empower his people, learn to trust them and grow them instead of trying to control them, his business will grow.
Another example I want to cite is of a Headmaster of a school that I know quite well. This school had a very dynamic Headmaster who grew this school tremendously over a period of 10 years. When he decided to move on, his former deputy took over from him. The Deputy, in contrast to the previous Headmaster was not a great leader but he was an excellent manager. What transpired was that over the next 15 years, the school did not grow. The facilities and systems was maintained brilliantly, but the school ceased to grow. It had the potential to become one of the greatest schools but it stagnated. Why? Because its new leader became the lid. He was just not able to take the school to the next level.
South African rugby also experience the effect of the Law of the Lid firsthand. There was a coach appointed to the National Team who had achieved tremendous success of Provincial Level. He is a lovely man, engaging and kind and a very good technical coach. Unfortunately this is not enough to be a good coach of the National Team. The Springboks underperformed terribly while he was coach, simply he was too nice and soft – not the strong leader they needed. The final straw was when the Springboks lost 57-0 against the All Blacks. This coach was replaced and his successor, Rassie Erasmus, who is a tremendous leader, took that same team, with the same players and 15 months later won the World Cup with them. That is the Law of the Lid in action.
You as leader determine the effectiveness of your team. You determine how well they perform and you determine what they can achieve. As the leader improves himself, his team improves.
This topic is discussed in more detail on our PodCast “Lead Now!”