John Maxwell’s Leadership Law #7: The Law of Respect

By December 6, 2018 October 23rd, 2023 Articles on Leadership

Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell explains the Law of Respect with the headline: “People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.” Your team wants to follow a leader they respect, but gaining that respect is not always easy. Respect is something that must be earned through consistent leadership behavior.

Here’s what you need to know about Maxwell’s Law of Respect and how to put it to work for your business.

a photo of the book cover of Laws of Leadership denoting Law #2The Law of Respect Explained

In his chapter on the Law of Respect, John Maxwell summarizes his thoughts in one essential sentence:  “Followers are attracted to people who are better leaders than themselves.” Someone would rarely follow a leader they do not respect and can easily outperform.

Maxwell states that people gravitate towards six significant qualities in a leader: natural leadership ability, respect for others, courage, success, loyalty, and value-added to others (which we touched on in my post on the Law of Addition.

It’s easier than you might think to determine whether you’re respected as a leader. Maxwell suggests the best way is to look at the caliber of people you attract. If you’re surrounded by a team of strong, capable leaders, chances are you are one yourself. However, if your team is incompetent, you might have some introspective work to do.

You can also gauge your level of respect by seeing how many of your employees are willing to volunteer when you ask for a commitment. If they respect you, they’ll be ready to go above and beyond because they believe in your mission and intuition.

The Law of Respect and You

If you want to make the Law of Respect work for your business, you must determine whether your employees respect you. Maxwell recommends thinking back to a time you asked employees for volunteers. How ready and willing were they to sign up? If your team rallies to you when you ask, it indicates how they see you as a leader.

Evaluate yourself in all six main leadership areas: natural leadership ability, respect for others, courage, success, loyalty, and value to others. Rate yourself from 1 to 10 in each area. Be honest with yourself and own up to the skills you might not have.

For each quality you lack, spend one month accomplishing tasks that will help you enhance this aspect of your leadership. For example, to develop your courage, you might spend a month stepping outside of your comfort zone, while your month on success might entail redefining what success means to you and what you can do to achieve it.

Maxwell also writes that if the people closest to him see him as a leader, he thinks of himself as a success. This step is challenging but worth it: Ask your family and friends what they respect most about you and what areas you most need to improve. Use this feedback to help yourself grow in a positive direction.

I want to let you know that respect must be earned. If you’re falling short as a leader, fill out my contact form, and let’s meet on a video call about how you can use Maxwell’s laws to improve your leadership style.

Coach Dave


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

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

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