Leadership in the New Millenium


This is an excerpt from a recurring conversation that has developed within me over the last month. “I know you don’t agree but hear me out on these 21 points that I am going to lay out of the next several days and then honestly assess yourself against each of them according to  your strengths and areas of challenge. At the end of that time if you still feel the same way well then at least I will have shared my perspective with you and you can get a better idea of how I am processing.”

These principles come from the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C Maxwell

The first of Mr. Maxwell’s laws is the law of the lid. This leadership concept centers around the growth potential of the individual leader and how it directly impacts the growth potential of the organization. The example that I remember most glowingly is that of the McDonald brothers who started their first restaurant, which they called the Airdrome. There aim was to attract more business since their theater was struggling. From their humble beginnings they were able to grow the restaurant into a very successful enterprise. However, ultimately the McDonald brothers lacked vision they wanted to keep their operation small and focused primarily on retiring by the age of 50 with $1,000,000.  Now don’t get me wrong in the mid 20th century that would seem a worthy goal, yet, their goals seemed to run contrary to their desires. They wanted to grow their business as long as it stayed small.

A little aside here, when I was studying non profit fundraising I learned that an organization can actually a gift that is so large that it destroys the organization. Meaning that people are used to functioning in a “mom and pop” mentality and then want to make money but do not really understand business processes.  This is essentially the issue with the McDonald  brothers they understood efficiency and optimizing management based decisions; however, they lacked the vision to grow their business to the degree that would allow them to achieve their goals and continue to function.

It was  Mr Neil Fox  that really helped them along with their franchising efforts. With the first franchise in Phoenix, AZ, the McDonald brothers were surprised to see an exact replica of their restaurant. They did n0t understand why Mr. Fox  had made an exact replica of their restaurant. Mr. Fox said why fix something that is working so well.  Mr Fox understood that to be successful you should find someone that is successful and do what they are doing. This is the art of true duplication which is the key to sustainable growth.

A few years afterward came a milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc. He grasped the genius of the McDonald brother’s concept immediately and was able to systematize their process and earned a great deal of money. However, Mr. Kroc and the McDonald brothers frustrated one another. The McDonald brothers wanted to keep the operation small. Why? Their leadership lid did not allow them to grow beyond where they were. Their system had the potential to become much more efficient, proficient and lucrative than their capacity to grow. As a result, Mr. Kroc acquired the McDonald brother’s system for $2.7 million and today with the leadership lid of Mr Kroc, McDonald’s corporation is literally all over the globe serving billions everyday and is worth $15 billion.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not promoting McDonald’s products as a whole but the demonstration of the law of the lid is glaringly evident in the story of their origin. When an organization is limited by the potential of the leader then the leader can raise his lid or they’ll have to get a new leader.

For more information on where your leadership lid is currently request a free assessment.

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