The Law of Navigation is the fourth of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell and is about the importance for a leader to plan ahead, remain focused and control the direction of the trip (his endeavor or mission), and not being controlled by it. In other words,
Anyone Can Steer the Ship, but It Takes a Leader to Chart the Course.
To introduce the Law of Navigation John Maxwell uses a dramatic story, a life-and-death illustration, about the two groups of explorers who in 1911 set out on a mission to be the first in history to reach the South Pole.
One of them was led by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who carefully charted his course. The other group was led by Robert F. Scott, a British Naval Officer who, on the other hand, violated the Law of Navigation.
The final result of those two missions was dramatically different: Amundsen and his group arrived to the South Pole more than a month before Scott’s team, while Scott and his team died along the way on their return trip, still 150 miles from their base.
But why this happened? According to John Maxwell, true “navigators” (effective leaders) envision the whole trip before they even leave the dock. They have a plan, they have a vision of what they need to do to reach their goal, and they understand what it takes to get to destination. They also consider what kind of people they need on their team to be successful, and they are aware of the obstacles they may encounter on the trip, a long time before they actually appear over the horizon.
To Be Successful, the Leader/Navigator Should:
- See the whole trip in his mind before leaving the dock
- Draw on past experience and learn from it
- Listen to what others have to say. Know that don’t have all the answers
- Examine conditions before making commitments. Have faith, but also be realistic
See the Trip Ahead
Effective leaders need to control the direction of the trip, they need a vision and a plan. The larger the organization, the more clearly the leader need to be able to see ahead, because corrections are more difficult, and they take more time. Think of the Titanic, the captain and his crew could not see far enough ahead to correct the problem and avoid the iceberg.
Draw on Past Experience
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.George Santayana
Learn from past mistakes and failure, and also from successes. As a leader, your experience and other people’s experience should guide you to avoid past mistakes and improve your performance.
Listen to What Others Have to Say
The past, however, will never tell you exactly what to do in the present. This is why you should gather information from many sources. Learn to listen from people inside and outside your organization.
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety-Proverbs 11:14, Holy Bible, King James Version
Examine conditions: have faith, but also be realistic
It’s difficult to balance optimism and realism, intuition and planning, faith and fact. But that’s what it takes to be effective as a navigating leader.John Maxwell
Good navigators analyze the costs before committing to a course of action. They don’t minimize challenges. Bill Easum said, “Realistic leaders are objective enough to minimize illusions. They understand that self-deception can cost them their vision.”
Charting the Course
The secret of the Law of Navigation is preparation, tell us Dr. Maxwell. If you prepare well, you increase your ability to lead and to be trusted. Leaders who are good navigators can take their people almost anywhere.
What are some example in your life, when your preparation helped you to lead your team successfully?
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
The book is divided in 21 main chapters, one for each of the 21 leadership laws. Below are the links to the chapters that I have reviewed or that I will review later.
- THE LAW OF THE LID
- THE LAW OF INFLUENCE
- THE LAW OF PROCESS
- THE LAW OF NAVIGATION
- THE LAW OF E.F.HUTTON
- THE LAW OF SOLID GROUND
- THE LAW OF RESPECT
- THE LAW OF INTUITION
- THE LAW OF MAGNETISM
- THE LAW OF CONNECTION
- THE LAW OF THE INNER CIRCLE
- THE LAW OF EMPOWERMENT
- THE LAW OF THE PICTURE
- THE LAW OF BUY-IN
- THE LAW OF VICTORY
- THE LAW OF THE BIG MO
- THE LAW OF PRIORITIES
- THE LAW OF SACRIFICE
- THE LAW OF TIMING
- THE LAW OF EXPLOSIVE GROWTH
- THE LAW OF LEGACY
BUY ON AMAZON: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell