When men or women become leaders only because they desire power or wealth, the consequences for their organizations in the long term are always negative. It happens with CEOs, leaders of political parties, religious organization, countries, and so on. The only way to achieve sustainable success is if the leader is willing to make personal sacrifices for the good of the organization.
John Maxwell describes one of the most incredible turnarounds in American business history to demonstrate the Law of Sacrifice. It is about the Chrysler Corporation in the early 1980s, when Chrysler was in a mess. At one point, in its history, Chrysler had captured 25 percent of the entire domestic automobile market.
The company remained fairly strong through the 1960s, but by the 1970s, the company was declining rapidly. in 1978, its market share was down to 11 percent and the organization was headed for bankruptcy.
Then in November 1978, Chrysler chose a new CEO, Lee Iacocca. In 1970, Iacocca had become the president of the Ford Motor Company, the highest leadership position possible under Chairman Henry Ford II. When he left in 1978, the company was earning record profits.
Iacocca accepted the job with Chrysler, but it required many personal sacrifices. The salary he accepted at Chrysler was a little over half what he had earned as the president of Ford. The next sacrifice came in his family life. To lead Chrysler, Iacocca had to work almost around the clock. Finally, to gather support in U.S. Congress for federally guaranteed loans, and to persuade suppliers, dealers and union workers to make sacrifices to overcome the challenges that Chrysler was facing, Iacocca ended up cutting his salary to $1 a year.
While this example of sacrifice is what John Maxwell describes in his book, I can think of many other leaders who sacrificed a lot more than Iacocca, even their own lives. People like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, or Jesus the Christ, the greatest of all leaders. But the principle stands true: you have to give up to go up, because the true nature of leadership is really sacrifice (And the greatest unselfish leaders don’t even worry too much about “going up”).
SACRIFICE IS A CONSTANT IN LEADERSHIP. IT IS AN ONGOING PROCESS, NOT A ONE-TIME PAYMENT
True Leadership = Sacrifice
John Maxwell writes about four critical aspects of the Law of Sacrifice:
1. There is no success without sacrifice. If we think about some of life’s greatest achievements, things like graduating from college, a successful marriage and family, a brilliant career, and so on, we realize that each off these achievements comes with an equally huge amount of sacrifice. To achieve success, people need to put in long hours and efforts, and sometimes even give up the comforts of a normal life to reach their goals.
2. Leaders are often asked to give up more than others. Maxwell writes, “The heart of leadership is putting others ahead of yourself.” When you have no responsibilities, you can mostly do whatever you want. However, the higher you move up the leadership ladder, the more responsibilities you acquire and the more sacrifices you must make to be an effective leader.
3. You must keep giving up to stay up. Short-term sacrifices are easier to make, but in order to continue growing as a leader, we must continue to make sacrifices. As Maxwell says, “Leadership success requires continual change, constant improvement, and ongoing sacrifice.”
4. The higher the level of leadership, the higher the sacrifice. The Law of Sacrifice demands that the greater the leader, the more he must give up. Think about someone like Martin Luther King Jr. His wife, Coretta Scott King, remarked in My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., “Day and night our phone would ring, and someone would pour out a string of obscene epithets … Frequently the calls ended with a threat to kill us if we didn’t get out of town. In spite of all the danger, the chaos of our private lives, I felt inspired, almost elate.
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 individual chapters.
- 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 REPRODUCTION
- 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
ON AMAZON: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership