The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell


Synopsis of Content:

Maxwell lists what he considers the 21 essentials qualities or disciplines of leadership. He uses stories of leadership demonstrated by famous people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Theresa and uses many examples from his own career as a pastor heading up churches and religious organizations.

Maxwell uses different titles and names for these qualities but in essence they include:

  • Building personal effectiveness is essential to improving leadership ability;
  • Leadership is measured by influence on others;
  • Leadership building is a daily process that grows over time;
  • Leaders use vision to chart a course as opposed to managers who steer the ship on that course;
  • Leaders add value to others;
  • Trust is essential to leadership;
  • People follow leaders they perceive as stronger than themselves;
  • Leaders use intuition to lead effectively;
  • Leaders attract people like them;
  • Leaders seek connection on emotional levels before asking for anything;
  • A leader’s potential is determined in large part by the leader’s inner circle;
  • Only secure leaders give power to others;
  • People do what they see;
  • People must buy into a leader for the leader to be effective;
  • Leaders find ways to win;
  • Momentum is the leader’s best friend;
  • Leaders understand an apply priorities;
  • Leadership demand sacrifice;
  • Leaders understand the importance of timing;
  • Leaders have the greatest influence through explosive growth;
  • Leaders measure their contribution by the legacy they leave.

Maxwell is a good author and there is significant value in his work. He obviously has studied the subject of leadership in some depth and has considerable experience as a leader in his own right.

At times Maxwell is a bit over impressed with himself.  While cites a number of examples from famous people of effective leadership it appears clear that he is his own favorite leader and example. If you can get past this bit of conceit, and you should, you will gain a lot from the good information in the book.

Maxwell originally wrote this book in 1998. In the decade following that he found various improvements and additions to the original work and published the updated and revised edition in 2007. Maxwell concedes that no one ever has all the answers and that as he learns more he wishes to pass that on.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very readable. A few chapters are a bit longer than they need to be to convey the essential content. However the writing style is concise enough and easy to follow. His work is well organized.

Notes on Author:

John C. Maxwell is a noted author and public speaker. He specializes on Leadership as his area of writing and expertise. He has now published over 50 books and has sold over 13 million copies. He has trained over 2 million leaders world wide. He is in high demand as a public speaker. He was named the world’s top leadership guru by, listed above Stephen Covey and Tom Peters.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. True leadership comes from influence over others, not from position, office or mandate. Even people with high authority or offices are only as effective as leaders as they are influential.
  1. Great leaders are not created over night. Leadership is built one day at a time through a great deal of self improvement work. Leadership requires sacrifice, determination and self discipline.
  1. People are not born leaders. Some people are born with qualities that make them more adept at leadership however nearly anyone who works hard enough at it can learn to be a good leader.

Publication Information:  

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell. ©1998 and 2007 by John C. Maxwell. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.