#4 The Law of Navigation

21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership - John C. Maxwell

From the book “The 21 Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell

#4 The Law of Navigation - Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course

Carefully Chart Your Course

Study, ask questions, listen, strategize, get input from others, apply forethought and detail towards the journey ahead.  

If you don’t live by the Law of Navigation…

Your progress will be slow, the journey will be difficult, and your results will be weak.  Followers need leaders to navigate for them.

Navigators see the trip ahead

They visualize the destination, they understand what it will take to get there, they know who they will need on the team to be successful, and they recognize the obstacles long before they appear on the horizon.  

The larger the organization, the more clearly the leader has to be able to see ahead.  This is true because sheer size makes midcourse corrections more difficult.  And if there are errors, many more people are affected (example: The Titanic).

Where the leader goes

The organization follows…so make sure you do not smash into a mountaintop.  

Navigators draw on past experience

Every past success or failure can be a source of information and wisdom.  Successes teach you about yourself what you are capable of doing with your particular gifts and talents.  Failures show what kinds of wrong assumptions you’ve made and where your methods are flawed.  If you fail to learn from your mistakes, you’re going to fail again and again.  

Navigators listen to what others have to say

The best leaders gather information from many sources.  They talk to everyone from the leadership team to line staff and they spend time with other leaders from outside the organization who can mentor them.  

Navigators examine the conditions before making commitments

Before you make commitments that are going to impact people, take stock and throughly think things through.  Good leaders count cost before making commitments for themselves and others.  

Navigators make sure their conclusions represent both faith and fact

Leaders must possess a positive attitude and have faith they can make the journey.  At the same time, leaders must also be able to see the facts realistically without minimizing obstacles or rationalizing challenges.  Real leaders understand that self-deception can cost them their vision.  Balancing optimism, intuition and planning, faith and fact are critical to being effective as a navigating leader.  

A lesson in navigation

If a leader can’t navigate the people through rough waters, they are liable to sink the ship.

Charting the course with a navigation strategy

Predetermine a course of action

Lay out your goals

Adjust your priorities

Notify key personnel

Allow time for acceptance

Head into action

Expect problems

Always point to the success

Daily review your plan

Major barriers to successful planning are fear of change, ignorance, uncertainty about the future, and lack of imagination.  

The secret to the law of navigation is preparation

It’s not the size of the project that determines its acceptance, support, and success.  It’s the size of the leader. 

#4 The Law of Navigation - Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.

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I hope this book provides you with guidance for your journey.