For anyone in a leadership position, this book is considered one of the classics, full of insights on what it takes to be a great leader. The author does this by describing his 21 laws of leadership, where with each one he dedicates a chapter, to fully explain both what is necessary and what one can do to improve in this area. Indeed, where this book holds the most value is not in giving the reader a eureka moment, but instead acting as a practical workbook to help business leaders quantify areas for improvement and help them implement the change within to then be more successful.
Indeed, early in the book, he tells a story of following giving a lecture, being asked what the one quality that is needed to be a leader, to which he replies, there is more than one thing you need to know about leadership! With that in mind, while there is overlap between the chapters, they are all distinct, with their own insight and even if someone is fully accomplished as a leader, there will be lessons to learn.
Speaking for myself, there are a few chapters covering areas I had never really given too much thought to, but once explained I knew to be correct. For example, take chapter 18, the law of sacrifice. Put simply, the premise of this law is the more responsibilities you have, the more limits there are on what you can do. Therefore, in order to advance, you must be prepared to sacrifice something you currently have, to obtain that which you strive for. Logical, once explained, but not something I would consciously think about. Another chapter I found interesting conceptually was “the law of explosive growth.” The idea being that explosive growth happens, when you both develop and lead leaders and what does it take to do this successfully.
For people who are not currently in leadership positions, I would also recommend this book if that is a direction they would want to go into in the future. Chapter 3 explains why best, in that he outlines that leadership is developed daily, where every day we can look to improve ourselves as a leader, as part of a process of self-development. Done correctly, over time the expertise will materialise.
There are several passages which are noteworthy and thought-provoking. For example: “Great leaders always seem to embody two seemingly disparate qualities. They are both highly visionary and highly practical.” How does a leader to develop themselves to be highly visionary and practical at the same time? This is a question the book looks to answer and this segment alone is well worth the read.
Finally, I will touch on Chapter 8, which is the one the author knows inherently to be true, yet he openly accepts he can’t quantify in the way he does the other rules. This chapter is titled, the law of intuition. In it he talks about how great leaders seem able to identify opportunities accurately with just intuition. As an example, he talks about how Steve Jobs in 2001 saw an opportunity when he was approached with the idea for a portable MP3 player. At the time every other hardware manufacturer was focusing on PDAs, equally, he saw the opportunity, dropped everything else he was doing and brought the iPod to market. Launched in 2002, by 2005 Apple had 75% of the global market share for digital music players. Such is the power of intuition.