45 pages 1 hour read

John C. Maxwell

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1998

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Critical Context: The Problem of Externalities and Analogies

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is a self-help book that offers insight about the qualities good leaders should possess. It assumes everybody who works hard on those 21 irrefutable clauses can become an influential leader. A potential critique is that this leaves no room for external circumstances that could affect people’s success rates. For example, in Chapter 18 on The Law of Sacrifice, John C. Maxwell argues that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could not have become as influential a leader had he not been prepared to make personal sacrifices. However, there are many Black leaders who have made equal sacrifices yet are forgotten in history. Maxwell does not explore external circumstances, such as the purposeful erasure of Black voices in a period where racial tensions were high.

Another potential critique is that Maxwell uses anecdotal evidence, which he specifically selects to validate the argument within one specific chapter. He disregards whether that same anecdote holds true for any of the other 20 rules presented in the book. For example, in Chapter 1,“The Law of the Lid,” Maxwell argues that anyone who works hard and smart can significantly increase their effectiveness as a leader.