The Law of the Lid is real. I am sure you have heard of it. One of my favorite leadership books of all time is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by the great John Maxwell. I could write a post on all 21 laws mentioned by Maxwell, but really the first law (law of the lid) is the most important and the subject of this post.
The Law of the Lid
The Law of the Lid states that your leadership ability is the lid that determines your level of effectiveness. Your leadership ability always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization. If you stop growing as a leader, your organization will stop growing. It cannot grow past you. This is why many founding CEO’s of companies move on or often get pushed out.
If you are leader of any organization or any group of people, it is imperative that you continually focus on your own personal growth. You must have a growth mindset not a fixed one. Not sure if you have become the lid?
Here are Five Signs You Have Become the Lid:
- The organization is experiencing very little, if any growth. Your financials have been stuck. You continue to try to add staff and new products or services that don’t do anything other than raising your overhead. Good businesses multiply rather than add. Leaders who are growing and are not the lid realize that.
- You spend much of your time putting out fires. Spending time fire fighting is something every executive leader understands is at times necessary. But this type of behavior is not sustainable. It does not lead to growth. It leads to burn out (pun intended) not only just for you as the leader, but for your people as well. People become like their leader. If you continually put out fires because of poor planning and execution, your people will as well. In fact, they may even create the fires for you to put out.
- There is a lot of infighting happening on your team. This is hidden conflict that is happening because of your lack of leadership. If not careful, it will become unhidden pretty quickly and can lead to a blow up.
- People on your team have started to move on. There is nothing wrong with your people at times move on to situations that are better fits for them. But when you start to lose good people, it is time to ask yourself why? What types of jobs are they going to? Are the jobs a step up? Or have you stopped growing? If you have become the lid they may no longer see a path for them to grow.
- You no longer have the same passion and fire for what you do. Not all passion lasts forever. Not everyone is meant to have the same passion for their entire life. When you lose the love of what you do, people notice. That leads them to question why they do what they do? People follow leaders because of their passion. They unfollow them because of lack of passion. When your passion fizzles, you must move on for the betterment of the organization and the people who do still have a passion for it.
The Law of the Lid is real. If any of those signs sound familiar then perhaps you have become it for your organization.
What do you do?
There is not clear answer to this question. It really depends. If signs one through four sound familiar, then the answer is to re-commit yourself to your own personal growth. Start reading books. Listen to new podcasts. Invest in an executive coach. If you do not invest in your own growth you will continue to be the lid and eventually you will either be forced out or be out of business.
If the fifth sign mentioned (passion) is the problem, then it is time to reflect on your life. If you are no longer passionate about what you do, why is that? Can you re-discover that passion? Investing in yourself can help with this one as well, but more than likely that investment will be figuring out what is next for you. It will take courage, but you may need to move on for the sake of the organization and your own happiness.