In John Maxwells book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership he identified “The Law of the Lid”, which states that, “leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. Without leadership ability, a person’s impact is only a fraction of what it could be with good leadership. If a person’s leadership is strong, the organization’s lid is high. But if it’s not, then the organization is limited.”
I have spoken with three CEO’s in the last week that I am confident are causing a lid on their organization. All were reasonably successful and suffering from a clear case of “what got you here will not get you there.” We have found that the leaders that are able to take their companies to great heights are committed to identifying and addressing the changes necessary to take the business up a notch.
They realize that those changes begin with changing themselves and permeating that change throughout. As a general rule, the lid is a byproduct of employee expansion and reflects a leader’s ability to gain follower-ship among a greater number of employees. The first major lid happens from between 50 and 60 employees, and the second lid we find around 150 employees.
It is important to note, that if you have no one following you, you are not a leader. To get more people to follow you (because they want to) you have to become a greater leader. And, the more people you have, the more easily one can see leadership effectiveness. It is all too easy for successful people to get full of themselves and believe they have arrived. In business and success, you never arrive. It is an evolution of growth.
Only one of those three leaders mentioned above has positioned themselves to break through their current lid. The biggest difference was her desire to break her personal lid. She has strong self-awareness, self-grounding, and foresight to hire a third party to help with her transition. This person deserves a lot of credit as she runs one of the most profitable companies in her industry sector.
She realized that her company was not growing as it should over the last few years, despite having a better strategy than the competitors. In initial meetings with her coach, she has recognized that she is going to have to learn how to work through an extra layer of management, communicate more proactively and clearly, and to shift her role from top producer to head coach.