The Law of the Lid: Develop your leadership ability & your effectiveness will increase

by Kent Hutchison

Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness.  The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his or her potential.  The higher the leadership, the greater the effectiveness.

There are many examples of The Law of the Lid.  Maxwell writes about Dick and Maurice McDonald and their story in the creation of the McDonald’s fast food chain.

Like Dick and Maurice, I know and worked for two brothers who own and run a company but have a not much of an ability actually to lead – and the result is a very low lid on their potential. To many, the brothers look successful.  Their revenue has grown (although it has plateaued), they employ several hundred employees, and they are members of the town’s financial elite.   However, much like the example, Maxwell writes about, these two brothers have been unsuccessful in taking their organization to the next level.

The reason – they lack the leadership necessary to allow their organization to sustain growth.  They are good owners – they understand how to run a business, cut costs, and make a profit – but neither are leaders – they are fantastic operational managers.  Like the McDonalds, their thinking patterns clamp a lid down on what they can do and become. Unfortunately, this is a pattern seen too often in many organizations.

The Law of the Lid impacts those who lack vision.  Vision to develop themselves; vision to develop their employees, and vision to develop their leadership ability.

On the other hand, I know a gentleman who worked in higher education for many years and is currently a senior executive at a growing Texas independent bank.  He consistently leads teams and the bank to higher performance, year after year.  His leadership lid is sky high, and he recruits other leaders who have strong leadership abilities.  The bottom line is he has increased the effectiveness of his organization.

Maxwell writes, and I agree, that by raising one’s leadership ability one can improve effectiveness.

To increase your level of effectiveness, you have a couple of choices.  You could work very hard to increase your dedication to success and excellence.  It is possible that you could make it to a higher level, though the Law of Diminishing Returns says that the effort it would take to increase one’s success dedication might take more energy than it did to achieve your current level.  If you really killed yourself, you might increase your success.

But you have another option.  You can work hard to increase your level of leadership. By raising your leadership ability, you can significantly increase your original effectiveness.

 Whatever you will accomplish is restricted by the capacity to lead others.  The first step to improving your effectiveness is to assess your leadership ability.  Because of your leadership ability – for better or worst – always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization.

Leadership has a multiplying effect.  I’ve seen its impact again and again in all kinds of businesses and organizations. Leadership ability is always the lid on personal and organization effectiveness.