John Maxwell’s Leadership Law #19: The Law of Timing

By February 28, 2019 February 2nd, 2023 Articles on Leadership

Last Updated on February 2, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

A photo of John Maxwell's bookJohn Maxwell has achieved great success as an author and leadership expert, and one of his biggest secrets is the Law of timing. In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Maxwell writes that “good leaders recognize that when to lead is as important as what to do and where to go.”

What does this mean for your business? First, it says that it’s not enough to make the right decision at any given moment: you also need to make sure the timing is right for you to make it. Not understanding the best time to act can lead to employee resistance, failed projects, or even total disaster.

Components of the Law of Timing

In his chapter on the Law of Timing, Maxwell writes, “Reading a situation and knowing what to do are not enough to make you succeed in leadership. If you want your organization, department, or team to move forward, you must pay attention to timing.”

Think about it: you might have an idea to launch a new product as a holiday gift. However, to make enough sales, you need to consider that many people do their holiday shopping long before December. Therefore, launching at the wrong time could severely limit your selling potential.

Likewise, you must evaluate the timing within your business and out in the marketplace. If you try to instigate a significant change after a massive staff turnover, employees will feel shaky and on edge. They won’t be able to give a new effort their best shot if they feel like their job is always on the line.

As Maxwell sees it, there are four possible outcomes to any action. The wrong action at the wrong time leads to disaster; the right action at the wrong time leads to resistance; the wrong action at the right time is a mistake, but the right action at the right time leads to success.

The Law of Timing requires the following components: understanding, maturity, confidence, decisiveness, experience, intuition, and preparation. You must have the knowledge, intuition, and maturity to know when a decision is correct, the confidence and decisiveness to act with intention, and the experience and preparation to back you up.

The Law of Timing in Leadership

To make the Law of Timing work for your business, you must evaluate your leadership strategy. For example, when was the last time you considered the timeliness of an action or idea? If you have a history of failed projects, ask yourself whether poor timing could have been the culprit.

Not sure what timing has to do with it. When considering past flops, as yourself, the following: what were the market conditions at the time? Could the venture have been profitable if launched earlier or later? What was the state of your business at the time of the launch?

Consider the components of the right leadership timing. The next time you have an idea, ask yourself a few key questions:

  • Do you fully understand the situation?
  • Are you doing this for the right reasons?
  • Do you believe in yourself and your decision?
  • Can you win your employees’ trust?
  • Have you taken your experience into account?
  • Are you listening to your gut feeling?
  • Have you done everything you can to prepare your team for success?

You’re ready to act if the answer is yes to all those questions.

Timing is everything when it comes to making big business decisions. If you fill out my contact form, we can look at your business strategy together and determine how the Law of Timing can help you succeed.

Coach Dave

Watch the video below for more information on John C. Maxwell and why I like this book so much.

Click here to read more articles in my “Laws of Leadership” series.

John Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: An Introduction
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