The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell may be almost 25 years old, but they apply to our leadership journey today more than ever. Today, Chris and Perry look at the Laws that apply to a Level 1 leader and how they can help a leader move to Level 2.

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Perry Holley:    Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining us once again. We really appreciate each one of you taking a journey on personal growth, and our team has been doing an incredible job, and we’re continuing to see the impact of this podcast and us just trying to add value to you and your journey. We’re seeing it on a weekly basis with comments, with questions, with number of downloads.

So man, if you are enjoying this podcast, we just want to encourage you to share it, share it with other people on your team. Use it as a conversation for a team meeting, first couple of minutes of the meeting. Share it with some friends that are going through some leadership challenges. We appreciate you listening and continue to share.

Perry Holley:    We’ve got some good questions lately too.

Chris Goede:     We’ve got some good questions.

Perry Holley:    Tell Sharon, “That was so big, I may do a podcast on it by myself.”

Chris Goede:     Yeah. We actually got one of the questions that we were like, “We’re going to,” [crosstalk 00:01:15]-

Perry Holley:    Thoughtful.

Chris Goede:     That’s right. Yeah.

Perry Holley:    Really thoughtful.

Chris Goede:     Then I looked at Perry, and I said, “Perry, I need you to write a lesson on that.” So it’ll be Perry’s content, and we’ll talk about it.

Perry Holley:    Actually, I’d like you to answer this one.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, I was going to call him out, but I’m excited about this series. We’re going to jump in here. This is something where it’s combining I believe two of John’s greatest works.

Perry Holley:    Yes.

Chris Goede:     He wrote the book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I call it 21 Laws, and he wrote it some 20 years ago. And then something that we talk about all the time, the foundation of leadership culture inside organizations is the common language of the 5 Levels of Leadership. And Perry had an idea and he said, “Hey, what if we begin looking at each one of the levels, and then which of the laws apply to helping leaders grow in that level?”

And next couple of weeks, it’s going to be a development plan for you. You want to grow in level one, you want to grow in level three. We’re going to give you some laws that will allow you to grow as a leader. So John, we give him a hard time, because he’s changed a couple of laws, so they’re really not irrefutable. And we could dive into that, but that’s for another conversation.

But you look at over the last 20 years the things that have changed in leadership and in businesses and technology, and without a shadow of a doubt, these principles, maybe the examples have changed and are different, but the principles of the 21 Laws are still very, very relevant. And so I’m looking forward to diving into that. So today’s title, back to today’s topic, is the Laws of Leadership for the Level One Leader.

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Perry Holley:    Yep, and this made me laugh. You said he changed a couple, but I recall that during a class, he had one that was called the Law of EF Hutton. And the millennials looked at me and said, “What? Who? What does that mean?” So he changed that one. Yeah, we work with clients in the five levels and the workshops, the laws of leadership, they play a big role.

They really establish a baseline for your leadership mindset. I lean on them all the time in coaching. They come up, I keep a copy next to my desk, always referring to it.

Chris Goede:     That’s good.

Perry Holley:    So we’ll look at each of these. And today, when you think about level one, I’m going to let you describe level one in a minute, but I’ll tell you the laws that I wanted to talk about today at level one, would be the Law of the Lid, it’s always law  number one. I love that, that says leadership ability determines your level of effectiveness.

Law of Process, another great one, that leadership develops daily, not in a day. And then the Law of Navigation, used this one just this week, that anyone can steer a ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. But before we get started, just a real quick overview, could you on level one?

Chris Goede:     Yeah. Yeah. So remember, as you think about the framework of the 5 Levels of Leadership, level one we talk about is a level that’s given to you. Level five is given to you, and levels two, three, and four is where you really have a lot of control over your increase of your influence.

But when we talk about level one, when you have level one influence, it’s really just because of your position, it’s the title. We call this that people follow you because they have to. Perry’s the new sales manager, and so Perry’s new to our team. He’s new to me and he’s new to this role, and so Perry has level one influence with me because of that position and because of that title. Now it’s a compliment to Perry. The organization thought enough of him to give him the opportunity to lead.

And so it’s great. It’s an awesome level. There’s a lot of upsides. There’s a lot of downsides. One of the downsides to this that I see is people get very comfortable with this title, and they just become complacent and they don’t grow through it. They just stay there. Matter of fact, I think you and I would probably agree a good percentage of leaders that we work with in all size organizations just lead from level one.

And so what we’re going to talk about today is a couple of laws that you can work on internally and help yourself to actually grow your influence from a level one to level two, so love where we’re going.

Perry Holley:    Yep. So a lot of us were raised, just aspired to be the boss, and get that title, get that position. And that’s where it does have influence that comes with that, at that position. But it’s very limited. And that’s why we always want to grow past that.

And also, one thing I really like to remind listeners is that you don’t have to… The title doesn’t have to be a formal title.

Chris Goede:     That’s right.

Perry Holley:    If you say, “Well, I’m not the boss of anything. I’m just in the middle of the organization.” Are you the project leader? Are you supervising a work project? Or are you the senior person on the team? You buy that designation, that’s the title. And it could come with some piece of influence with it.

But one thing I love about… John says about level one is an invitation. Congratulations, you’re in, is an invitation to grow as a leader. If you hope to increase your influence, you’re going to need these laws, these three laws. So the first one we can dive into is called the Law of the Lid. As I said earlier, leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. And because we say that leadership is influence, and saying that your ability to influence others will determine how effective you’ll be, and he could have added in all of life.

Chris Goede:     That’s right, period. Period.

Perry Holley:    Not at work, in all of life. If you don’t have influence, you’re not going to be affective. So your level of influence is a lid on your life.

Chris Goede:     I like what you said, where you said, “Congratulations, now get to work.” Right?

Perry Holley:    I think we have a podcast titled that.

Chris Goede:     There you go. That’s right. So we say, “Hey, listen, you get the title, you get the position. But now we have got to begin growing.” And one of the things, when I think about the Law of the Lid, there’s a couple of things that come to mind. Number one, you cannot give what you do not have. And so if you’re as a leader not continuing to grow and develop to your full leadership potential, then you’re not going to be able to give that to the team members or those that you have influence with, to your point earlier.

You don’t have to have direct reports. You could be leading meetings, you could leading projects, leading community groups, whatever it might have. But unless you are pouring in and developing yourself, you’re going to be very stagnant and you’re going to stay at that level.

The other thing that I think about is that growth is contagious. And if you are continuing to raise your lid and you’re continuing to grow and challenge yourself, it’s going to be contagious with those around you. And so I think that’s extremely powerful for you to begin to think about, so you have this level one title, but man, you got to think about this Law of the Lid. And what we want you to do is challenge your thinking around it.

I like the statement you made here, you shared it with me, which was you can’t be positional in your thinking. You’ve got to again, have that growth mindset.

Perry Holley:    Right. Just as a reminder, I did put in the learner guide for all of these episodes, I put a little self-assessment that I picked up from our resources that we have here, because I found it interesting. There’s two or three questions around each of these questions, around where are you? How would you rate yourself on a scale of one to five on each of these laws?

So the second law is the Law of Process, which reads that leadership develops daily, not in a day. And I just love that it’s day by day. You can’t just overnight turn it on. You’ve got to be pouring into yourself and goes back to your point just now, is an invitation to grow. So what are you doing about it day by day to grow your leadership, your influence?

Chris Goede:     Yeah, when I think about the Law of Process, I, former athlete, I say former, that’s not the case, but I think about for me, watching my growth in the weight room, and the lifting process, and it wasn’t like I walked in day one of college and lifted X amount of weights. It was a process.

Perry Holley:    Day by day.

Chris Goede:     Day by day. And then eventually, I was able to just continue to grow in that category. But what’s really interesting, and the same with even this growth mindset that we’re talking about here in leadership and your leadership as a level one leader, is that it sure is funny how as soon as I stopped lifting, two weeks later, you just lose it.

Perry Holley:    You started seeing growth in another area.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, you start seeing growth in another area, which we’re not going to talk about that. Thanks, Perry. It takes time. It’s a process. I love what you said, let’s do this thing daily. It’s not in a day. It’s a process, and so you may have been… John uses this example, is you may graduate from high school or college and get the diploma that day. That’s great.

That’s the daily activity for that day, but it was a process, four years maybe, for some of us in college longer than four years to get to that point. But it is something that you have to continually be doing in developing yourself in that. So let me go back. I got so excited in the beginning about where we’re going and how we’re tying these different laws. I didn’t even give them the website. And you talked about downloading the notes, the show notes.

Perry Holley:    Oh, yeah.

Chris Goede:     So just if you want to do that, and Perry’s created those for you guys, you can go to, and you can download the show notes and you can follow along.

Perry Holley:    Well, one of my favorite books from John, and I swore I’d never read it when I first saw it come out. But then for some reason, it ended up in my hands, and it’s called Today Matters. And what I learned from reading that was that today matters.

Chris Goede:     That’s right. Every day.

Perry Holley:    And that what you do today… And it’s really the small things, it’s really become the motto for my life, that small things done daily, consistently over time generate remarkable results. And I put that on my business card. I just really believe that it is that day by day, the process of doing something small, we often set goals that are so large that we have great intention, but we don’t take action.

Chris Goede:     And you get paralyzed.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. And so if I make it so small that I’d be embarrassed to tell you, “I’m going to read two pages today.” “You say two chapters?” “No, I’m going to try and do two pages.”

Chris Goede:     Two pages, yeah. Yeah.

Perry Holley:    I can read more, but I can never read less. And so just setting that daily process in place, small habits really means small things done daily, consistently over time-

Chris Goede:     That’s good.

Perry Holley:    … will drive remarkable results.

Chris Goede:     It’s a process.

Perry Holley:    [crosstalk 00:11:26] big philosophy. Number three, and the last one for today is the Law of Navigation. Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.

Chris Goede:     When I think about this Law of Navigation, for me, when you become a leader, you have vision for your leadership, what you want to accomplish. But now you got to begin thinking about the team, those that you influence, you got to begin thinking about the organization and it’s much easier to plan for yourself than it is to actually plan a little bit bigger, have a bigger vision for the team.

But I use the word plan on purpose right there, because when you think about the Law of Navigation and you begin thinking about where you’re at as a leader and the organization gave you this title, and you’re leading with level one, you’ve got to spend some time in preparation and you got to begin to think about, “Hey, what is it that we need to accomplish, or I need to accomplish to be able to chart the course of where we or I need to go?”

You can steer it pretty easily, but can you then begin to navigate and chart that, and then can you recognize your limitations and see where they’re at? I love the statement, lead where you’re strong, team where you’re weak. Chris Fuller, one of our executive coaching facilitators, uses that all the time. And so where do you need to grow in those areas that you need to be better at navigating and planning where the team needs to go, where you need to go?

And then maybe where do you need to partner with a team, inside your team to be able to navigate that? And that’s just maturity of thinking through that. And some leaders, when they get the title, they don’t take time to begin to think about this. This is why I love what we’re doing. We’re giving you three laws to where you could literally spend some time, and again, I’m going to go back to this word consistency that we love using here, which is this is critical in the navigation, Law of Navigation. This is something that you have to consistently be aware of as you are a level one leader, or have level one influence with people.

Perry Holley:    Plus, thinking about the last two years of our life off here in a global pandemic, and the challenge, just unprecedented demands on everyone. But especially a leader, looking at your team and how can you serve your team? And in these tough times, you would just hate to have been a level one, locked into level one leader-

Chris Goede:     No doubt.

Perry Holley:    … with no influence with people, and really just steering the boat, not really navigating and charting the course. So I thought, was there ever a time you wanted to be a level one, level two, level three, level four leader, increasing that influence? It’s been leading in tough times.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And you talked earlier about the process, and how you come up with even… It’s not 90 days, it’s not 30 days. It’s a daily. Matter of fact, in today’s world, it may be hourly. And you think about that. And so I also thought about, man, if you don’t figure that out as a leader at level one, and what we were going through and what we will go through, you want to talk about lack of engagement and high turnover, it’ll be a toxic leadership culture if you don’t figure that out.

And this just goes back to we don’t want you to stay at level one. We don’t want you to have influence just afforded to you by the position that you have. Too many leaders, I said Perry and I talk about it, and these are executives. These are leaders that Perry coaches, our team coach, that they are still leading from level one. And when you do that, you see them devaluing people. You are going to see turnover, which I just talked about. Lack of employee engagement, and so remember, level one is an invitation to be at the leadership table, the influence table. And it’s also even more important and imitation to grow your influence, and you do that by making sure you start with yourself.

Perry Holley:    Well, I teach this lesson. I always, I seed it early, that I’m going to ask this many times during the day. What’s your number one job at level one, is to get out of it as quickly as possible. It’s a great invitation.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, that’s good.

Perry Holley:    Like I say, congratulations. Now, what are you going to do? And to do that, to get out of the level one, just to recap on these laws, that you’re going to need to raise your lid, your potential, by growing and learning. You’re going to do this through investing daily in your personal growth.

And when you do this, you’re going to be able to chart that course your team needs, your organization needs, and place yourself at that leadership table. You should wrap it up for us.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, listen, we are giving you a development plan. One of the things we ask leaders all the time is, “Tell me a little about your development plan.” We’re opening up some thoughts and some ideas around the 5 Levels of Leadership. We want you to increase your influence. Remember, it’s with the proper motive. We talk a lot about influence and manipulation, got to have the right motive, but we want you to increase your influence for the benefit of the organization, the team, the family, your community, and ultimately, your personal growth.

And so at level one, if you feel like you have level one influence, by the way, we probably all have level one influence with somebody in our world right now, because it’s very fluid. We talk about that. It’s not we walk in and say, “Hi, my name is Chris Goede, I’m a level five leader.” Right? And so even for myself, if I have a new team member or a new situation, I walk in the room, I got to be thinking about this.

I got to go back and say, “Okay, what am I doing about the Law of the Lid, and the Law of Process and Navigation when it comes to increasing my influence with that individual?” So take some time, jot down these three laws. If you do not have the 21 Irrefutable Laws book, just Google Law of the Lid. And I promise you, it’s going to come up with a ton of information and then just start taking some notes, and go, and to Perry’s point, take the assessment and figure out where you’re at and then continue to develop yourself in these areas.

Perry Holley:    Great stuff, Chris. So just a reminder, that assessment is on the back of the learner guide for each of these lessons we’re doing on the 21 Laws. And you can find that as well as more information about the five levels, 360° Leader and other offerings we have at You can also leave a message for us there, a question. We love hearing from you, and we’re always grateful that you would spend this time with us each week. That’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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