John Maxwell’s Leadership Law #5: The Law of Addition

By November 8, 2018 December 19th, 2018 Articles on Leadership

Last Updated on December 19, 2018 by Dave Schoenbeck

When was the last time you discovered a new way to creatively add value to your business? Chances are your thoughts were along the lines of new products you could release or ways to boost your company’s net of addition

In John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he emphasizes the importance of a different kind of value, the Law of Addition.

Law #5 is the Law of Addition: “Leaders add value by serving others.” If you turn your focus to serving your employees and your customers, profits will increase naturally.

The Law of Addition

In his chapter about the Law of Addition, John Maxwell writes, “The best place for a leader isn’t always the top position. It isn’t the most prominent or powerful place. It’s the place where he or she can serve the best and add the most value to other people.”

He shares the example of Jim Sinegal, former CEO of Costco. Costco is a thriving retail business with an interesting assortment,  low costs, and high profits, but that’s not the key to the business’s success. Costco stands out from its competitors because its employees are paid well, have low health care expenses, are given credit for their work, and know they are highly valued.

Sinegal himself made an effort to visit every Costco store at least once a year, because as he says, “No manager and no staff in any business feel very good if the boss is not interested enough to come and see them.” In return, Costco has a high employee loyalty and a low turnover rate.  

Mr. Maxwell has four main ways that we add value to others:

  • When we value them.
  • When we make ourselves more valuable to them.
  • When we know and relate to what they value.
  • When we do things that God values.

The Law of Addition for leadership states that if you choose to serve your customers and your employees by adding value rather than trying to come out on top or make yourself richer, higher profits will follow. You’ll retain your talent, spend less on marketing in favor of word-of-mouth advertising, and people will want to buy what you’re selling.

The Law of Addition and Your Business

Delighting your employees and your customers are easier said than done in many cases, especially since the very idea differs from what many big businesses like to do. Maxwell says, “the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.”

Think about your attitude towards leadership. Is it a servant’s attitude? If you balk at those words, you need to work on your own self-development before you can add value to your company through your employees.

Learning how to do this is an ongoing process. The key is to be intentional about adding value. Humans are naturally selfish; it takes an intentional effort to steer away from those patterns and towards a life and a career of service. Make a daily effort to serve others without looking for credit or recognition. This will help you develop the right habits.

Think about the people closest to you. How can you add value to their lives? In what ways can you support them? Start doing these things, then branch out until you’re thinking about how to add value to all of your employees’ lives.

Need a little guidance on the best ways to put the Law of Addition to work for you? Fill out my contact form and let’s meet on a video call about how you can best add value to your company.

Coach Dave

P.S. Pro tip: Buy and read this book!


For more information on John C. Maxwell and why I like this book so much, watch the video below.

To read more articles in my “Laws of Leadership” series, click here.

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