John Maxwell’s Leadership Law #6: The Law of Solid Ground

By November 29, 2018 December 17th, 2019 Articles on Leadership

Last Updated on December 17, 2019 by Dave Schoenbeck

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, author and leadership expert John Maxwell begins his chapter on the Law of Solid Ground with a single idea: “trust is the foundation of leadership.”

When people lose trust in their leaders, whether that be the President of the United States or a CEO, the entire organization suffers. Why?

No one will follow a leader they don’t trust. The Law of Solid Ground is all about trust-based leadership.

Leaders cannot repeatedly break their employees’ trust and still hope to influence them. As Maxwell says, “trust is like coins in a leader’s pocket.” When you make a good leadership decision, you gain more change. Poor decisions cost you change. There’s only a certain amount of “change” you have as a leader before people stop following you altogether.

What Is the Law of Solid Ground?

Building trust as a leader allows you some leeway to make mistakes, but the key is that the trust must always outweigh the bad decisions. No one is perfect, and every leader will lose a little credibility from time to time. However, if you’ve built yourself a solid foundation to stand on, your employees will stick with you when times get tough.

In his chapter on the Law of Solid Ground, John Maxwell writes, “People will forgive occasional mistakes based on ability, especially if they can see that you’re still growing as a leader. And they will give you some time to connect. But they won’t trust someone who has slips in character.”

Having a strong moral character makes it possible for your employees to trust you, which in turn makes it possible for you to lead them. Every employee has been burned by bad leaders too many times to take a chance on someone shifty. Your character communicates consistency, potential, and respect to your employees, which reinforces that they’re in good hands.

The Law of Solid Ground in Your Business

To make the Law of Solid Ground for you, start by asking yourself: how trustworthy would your teammates say you are? Do they feel comfortable approaching you with both good and bad news? Do they keep you posted about the tasks you assign them even when things aren’t going well? If the answer is no, they might not trust you very much after all.

Part of building trust involves making a daily effort to better yourself as a person and a leader. Take time to develop not only your professional skills, increasing your capability as a business owner, but also to develop your empathy and respect for those that work for you. Your employees will feel comfortable approaching you if they feel that they can talk to you.

One of the best ways to build trust between yourself and your employees is to communicate effectively with them. Make yourself available and no matter the size of your company, take the time to learn the names and stories of the people you work with. Employees trust leaders who care, and creating an open line of dialogue lets them know they won’t be punished for voicing opinions.

Finally, it’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you handle those mistakes that matter most. If you break someone’s trust or act in a way that is incongruent with the leadership style you want to embody, apologize and make things right. Your employees will appreciate having a humble leader, with a well-managed ego, and willing to learn from everyone’s mistakes.

Not sure how to make the Law of Solid Ground work for your business? I can help. Fill out my contact form and let’s schedule a complimentary video coaching call.  I highly recommend that you buy this book and learn how to maximize your leadership effectiveness.

Coach Dave


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