Reversing the Law of the Lid and the Law of Magnetism!

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The Law of the Lid.

John C Maxwell writes of the Law of the Lid and the Law of Magnetism in his best-selling title “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. Your Leadership Ability defines the “lid” of your Leadership, while the Law of Magnetism describes how like attracts like in a Leadership Sense. So in theory, if your Leadership Lid is an 8, you will attract 8’s and below. However if you are a Lid of 4, you cannot expect to attract 8’s and in the event that you do, they won’t stay for long.

The Law plays out often as we see great Leaders attracted to other great leaders, while poor leaders stay with similar. In a previous role, I mentored potential leaders and I had a J&W rule. My observations were very similar to these laws. I had a potential leader who was outstanding. For this article, we will call him James. He was ahead of others in his class and attracted similar potential leaders. These leaders all ended up gaining frontline leadership positions easily and have received further promotions since.

The other leader, and lets call him Wally, was the  exact opposite. Technically competent, he struggled to learn and adapt behaviour  and became frustrated at the change required. As a mentor, I would seek out for Wally to spend time with James, and while James was able and willing with his time, often Wally would choose to spend time with other leaders similar to himself. The struggling helping the struggling. Not ideal. Wally, finally became a frontline leader, and remains so to this day, while others attracted to him have done similar or gone backwards. Hence the J&W Rule.

My observations over time, have also unearthed another interesting scenario. While 8’s attract other 8’s, in companies where transfers and teams are structured, I have seen 8’s go to work for leaders with a lower lid rating. When these teams are forced, the performance of the team will always remain at the level of the leader. So you may have 8’s in your team, but if the leader is a 5, the results from the team will remain at 5 or below. And worse still, if the 8’s aren’t developed, or challenged they will leave or worse, drop to a 5.

A team I observe, are led by a 5. The leader “favours” two other leaders on his team, both of who may be 5 or at best a 6. In this team, the leader has some exceptional talent, most of whom the boss ignores and doesn’t develop. The contrast in how each individual performs is startling. One continues to drive the highest possible standards within his team, and delivers a results for an unappreciative boss. He continually gets told that the next step won’t be happening for him and that he needs to accept some “facts” about his role in the team. Another drives outstanding results, and agitates for change which causes frustration and angst within the team. The remaining talented leader, feels insignificant and does not feel valued, and while his contribution is to a standard (and above that of the “favoured”) knows he is capable of more. He has effectively dropped his performance to the level of the leader.

So organizations need to be mindful of situations like this and when they put teams together. None of the talented leaders feel valued in their current situation and this will ultimately cause pain for the organisation as they will either leave for a better leader, or ultimately become disengaged and disillusioned and drop their performance to the level of the leader. Every leader has a role to play in their own development but also in the development of their team.

Every day people go to work for poor leaders. The Law of the Lid states that people can raise their Leadership Lid through development. Unfortunately, your lid can also drop through inaction.

Leaders attract leaders of their own lid level. In reverse, it is never good.

Tony Curl

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Tony Curl

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