Becoming An Effective Leader Back »

This article was written by Suzy Geppert, former SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Partnerships Field Specialist.


“The Law of the Lid.” If you have ever had a chance to read John C. Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, you will understand the “Law of the Lid”. If not, I suggest you do so. Many of us proclaim to be “leaders”; however true leadership lies in our ability to “raise the lid”. In other words, we determine the effectiveness of our leadership ability and in turn gain insight towards future success.

Leadership ability determines your effectiveness and potential impact on your relationships and work environment. Understanding that ability and building upon it will unlock a treasure of potential not only for yourself but those around you. You have the personal insight of understanding what your limitations are and where you need improvement. This understanding opens the door to finding solutions to those limitations. True leadership involves self -reflection and action towards overcoming those limitations and obstacles. This may involve educating yourself about those limitations through research and study or simply asking others for help. It may even require turning the reigns over to someone else with more experience or insight in that particular area. Leaders know when to lead and when to FOLLOW.

The ability to raise the lid leads us towards measuring our leadership ability. This is done through The Law of Influence. “True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence and that cannot be mandated. It must be earned”. John C. Maxwell. This is seen through several leadership factors:

  • Character - leadership begins with the person. People sense the depth and intensity of a person’s character.
  • Relationships - having deep relationships with the right people. This does not mean developing relationships that will help you climb the corporate ladder. It means developing sincere, honest, and respected relationships that allow you to express yourself and listen to others in a meaningful way that will guide EVERYONE towards success.
  • Knowledge - it is vital that you grasp the facts so that you can get an accurate vision for the future.
  • Intuition - leaders have the ability to recognize and influence intangibles such as energy, morale, timing, and momentum. 
  • Experience - when followers understand you and your challenges and see that you have overcome them, the more likely they will be to follow you. They trust in your ability.
  • Ability - trust continues to be a huge factor in a follower’s decision of “who to follow”. They want to “know” that you can lead them to success. As soon as they no longer believe you can deliver, they will stop following.

Leadership is an ongoing process that needs to be built upon a solid base. It is important to continue to maintain that base by fixing the cracks that come along in your foundation. Open your hearts and minds to solutions. Leadership is an ongoing process that must be nurtured. In my next article we will discuss how we can develop that process and navigate our way to success.

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