Are you ready to go on a journey and discover how you can become the leader you want to be?

The leader you know you can be?
In this monthly column, we will focus on all aspects of leadership. If everything really does rise and fall on leadership, wouldn’t you want to increase your leadership skills? Thanks for joining me!

John Maxwell, a writer on leadership, has coined the phrase “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” In his book, 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Maxwell writes, “Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” He calls this “The Law of the Lid.” Here is why.

Have you heard the story of how fleas are trained? Maxwell gives this illustration. When fleas are placed into a jar with a lid, they first jump all over the jar, hitting the lid. After some time goes by, they stop the jumping. Then, when the lid is removed – they actually stay put! They will never jump out of the jar.

How does this apply to leadership? The analogy is: the lid is a barrier to success. In the same way, our own leadership “lids” are the cap in which our true potential is held back. If everyone has the potential to succeed, and I believe everyone does!, then our potential is unlimited. Just like the fleas, we have the potential to jump high, and out of the “jar”, but the lid stopped that potential from becoming reality.

Raising your lid is about self-leadership, which can be the most difficult to cultivate. Let’s make an illustration with a comparable, and say that my leadership lid is at a seven. This means that my business (I own a marketing development company in Gainesville and Warrenton) will only ever be a seven and that it will never go beyond. The potential is there to go higher! But the lid caps all of the potential.

You can see this play out in organizations all the time. The potential of the whole is limited by lid of the leader. The necessary skills of a leader are vast: casting vision, creating culture, building teams, empowering others, and building trust, maintaining values and staying disciplined. Leadership is not for the faint at heart.

A strong leader knowns their limits. We are all given talents, opportunities, genetic dispositions, and opportunities to grow. I want to focus on that last one – opportunity. Becoming a strong leader is so much about knowing realistic limits (no matter how hard I work at it, I will never be a professional basketball player), but having the confidence to jump as high as you are able, seizing every opportunity to grow (or jump!), and never allowing anything or anyone to condition you to think you cannot jump out of that jar!

In the months to come, we will look at how we can raise our leadership lids, and identify barriers to our successes.