My Takeaway on The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

I’ve been thinking a lot about what leadership looks like for me currently as well as what I want it to look like in the future, so I was glad when my boss recommended I read this book. There were so many underline-worthy, tweetable snippets in this book that it was hard to organize the takeaways into anything actionable. Thankfully, the end of this book contains a quiz. I was able to rate myself on each of the 21 laws. Through that process, there were clear areas where I excelled and obvious areas where I need improvement. 

If you’re looking for guidance on how to become a better leader, or you want to become a leader, I would encourage you to read this book. It’s a quick 250ish pages of really practical advice. 

Strengths

  1. The Law of the Picture: Followers may doubt what their leaders say, but they usually believe what they do.
  2. The Law of Priorities: Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.

The two laws I scored highest on were Picture and Priorities. Dick Winters is easily one of my top role models (no joke I watch Band of Brothers at least once or twice a year), so it makes sense that I scored myself high in this area. His commitment to leading by example and walking the talk are both qualities that I prioritize in my own life as well as the qualities that I respect most in others.

The other law I scored high in, Priorities, actually surprised me a little. I’m the kind of person that gets restless when I’m not busy, but in the past year or two especially, I’ve been focusing on working smarter rather than harder. I don’t have to handle everything. It’s not fair to me, the team, or my clients when I do because my work is usually worse and it robs my team of opportunities to step up and handle complex problems.

How I plan on making the most of those strengths

I could have all the experience and knowledge in the world, but if people observe that my actions and words aren’t consistent with each other, they’ll never be receptive to what I have to say. I think I can use this strength to mentor others in this area by not just teaching what’s right, but doing what’s right – setting an example not only in the work I do, but how I interact with my teammates, and how I speak about others.

I also want to keep pushing myself to delegate tasks to others. I plan on daily evaluating my task list to see what areas I might be able to delegate and use as an opportunity to level up other team members.

Weaknesses

  1. The Law of the Inner Circle: A leader’s potential is determined by the people closest to him.
  2. The Law of Magnetism: Who you attract is not determined by what you want. It’s determined by who you are.

The two laws I scored lowest on were Inner Circle and Magnetism. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not highly selective about the people I choose to be closest to. I have this severe aversion to feeling like a kiss-up that I think prevents me from making even good strategic partnerships with people. I’m going to commit myself to paying attention to people I think are strong in this area so I can pursue opportunities to partner with them.

It was difficult for me to connect with the Law of Magnetism, however, the idea that the attitude of the team follows the attitude of the leader totally resonates with me. Even when I’m not in a role where I have positional reports, I really want to strive to be the kind of person I’d want following me.

Targets for growth

  1. The Law of Sacrifice: Good leaders must be willing to give up their rights for the sake of the people they lead.
  2. The Law of Empowerment: Only secure leaders give power to others.

The laws I’m closest to turning into strengths are Sacrifice and Empowerment. I can fall into the trap of using “work life balance” as a justification for not making sacrifices. Reading this chapter made me realize that it’s OK to have certain things you won’t sacrifice, but to be willing to sacrifice non-essential things to grow as a leader. Example: within the past year, I’ve discovered that I really enjoy leading group trainings, in particular training other departments on SEO. Since I want to grow more in this area, I signed up for Toastmasters. It’s probably going to be awkward at times and I have to sacrifice one of my weeknights to do it, but I feel strongly that it’ll be worth it in order to grow.

When it comes to growing in the area of empowerment, I know I need to focus on security. Over-emphasizing humility in my life has made me struggle with low self worth. This made me realize that it’s not only dangerous for myself, but also for the people I lead. Insecure people don’t let others succeed, and I really want other people to succeed and get better, so I know I need to grow in my own security.

I want whatever team I’m on to be known for never being content with the bare minimum. I want to cultivate an incessant curiosity that drives people to grow in their knowledge, a supportive environment where people aren’t afraid to try things, and a commitment to be excellent to each other, unified in vision and purpose.