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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The Greatest Leaders Add Value to Others

John C. Maxwell argues that the best leaders work not to enrich themselves but to help others. Although chapters can be read independently and the 21 Laws do not overlap, he explores this theme from different angles in Chapters 5 (“The Law of Addition”), 12 (“The Law of Empowerment”), 20 (“The Law of Explosive Growth”), and 21 (“The Law of Legacy”). In other words, the purpose of leadership is not selfish but altruistic—the greatest leaders sacrifice their time and effort to help advance others.

In Chapter 5, “The Law of Addition,” Maxwell emphasizes that it is the leader’s responsibility to serve others. A true leader exerts influence through a relationship of mutual trust and respect—leaders are different from managers, whose power lies in their superior social position and in their ability to withhold paychecks or threaten violence if people do not obey them. In other words, true leaders can inspire others to volunteer for their cause because they have solid character; their purpose is to fight for a goal that will ultimately benefit everyone, not just themselves.

In Chapter 12, “The Law of Empowerment,” Maxwell develops this idea by arguing that leaders with the greatest visions cannot accomplish everything on their own.