Leadership guru John Maxwell offers twenty-one “laws” distilled from his experience as an “Expert Leader”.

1. The Law of the Lid.

Your leadership is like a lid or a ceiling on your organization. Your business will not rise beyond the level your leadership allows it to grow. That’s why when a corporation or team needs to be fixed, they fire the leader first.

2. The Law of Influence.

Leadership is about influencing people, nothing more, and nothing less. The true test of a leader is to ask him or her to create positive change in an organization. If you cannot create change, you cannot lead. Being a leader is not about being first, being an entrepreneur, being the most knowledgeable, or even being a great manager. It’s not the position that makes a leader, but the leader who makes a position. The very essence of all power to influence lies in getting the other person to participate (or buy-in). “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”

3. The Law of Process.

Leadership is learned over time.  People skills, emotional strength, vision, momentum, and timing are all areas that can and should be learned. Leaders continually learn and grow to become improve their role as a great leader.

4. The Law of Navigation.

Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Vision is defined as the ability to see the whole trip before leaving the dock. A leader sees more, sees farther, and sees before others. Preparation is the key to good navigation. “It’s not the size of the project, it’s the size of the leader that counts.”

5. The Law of E.F. Hutton.

Hutton was America’s most influential stock market analyst, so when he spoke everyone listened. When real leaders speak, people automatically listen. Factors involved in being accepted as a new real leader include character, building key relationships, information, intuition, experience, past success, and ability.  According to Margaret Thatcher, “being in power is like being a lady – if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

6. The Law of Solid Ground.

Trust is the foundation for all effective leadership roles. When it comes to leadership, there are no shortcuts. Building trust requires competence, connection and real character.

7. The Law of Respect.

People naturally follow people stronger than themselves. Even natural leaders tend to fall in behind those who they sense have a higher “leadership quotient” than themselves.

8. The Law of Intuition.

Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias. Leaders see trends, resources and problems, and can read people.

9. The Law of Magnetism.

Leaders attract people like themselves. Who you are, is who you attract and surround yourself with. So “staff” your acknowledged weaknesses with the best available talent, and never sacrifice your standards for talent excellence. If you only attract followers, your organization will be weak. Work to attract leaders rather than followers if you want to build a truly strong organization.

10. The Law of Connection.

You must touch the heart before you ask people to follow. Communicate on the level of emotion first to make a personal connection.

11. The Law of the Inner Circle.

A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. “The leader finds greatness in the group, and helps the members find it in themselves.”

12. The Law of Empowerment.

Only secure leaders give power to others. Mark Twain said, “Great things can happen when you don’t care who gets the credit.” … “Great leaders gain authority by giving it away.”

13. The Law of Reproduction.

It takes a leader to grow another leader- followers can’t do it.   The potential of an organization depends on the growth of its leadership.  “It takes one to know one, to show one, to grow one.”

14. The Law of Buy-In.

People buy-in to the leader first, then the Vision. If they don’t like the leader but like the Vision, they get a new leader. If they don’t like the leader or the Vision, they get a new leader. If they don’t like the Vision but like the leader, they get a new Vision.

15. The Law of Victory.

Leaders find a way for the team to win. Unity of vision, diversity of skills, plus a leader, are all needed to win. “You can’t win WITHOUT good athletes, but you CAN lose with them.”

16. The Law of Momentum.

You can’t steer a ship that isn’t moving forward. It takes a leader to create forward motion.

17. The Law of Priorities.

Activity is not accomplishment; so learn the difference. “A leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells “Wrong Jungle!” A leader has learned and executes the three R’s:  a) what’s Required;  b) what gives the greatest Return; and, c) what brings the greatest Reward.

18. The Law of Sacrifice.

A leader must give up to go up. Successful leaders maintain an attitude of sacrifice to turn around an organization. As he worked to turn around the Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca slashed his own salary to $1 per year. ”When you become a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself.”

19. The Law of Timing.

When to lead, is as important as what to do and where to go. Only the right action at the right time brings success.

20. The Law of Explosive Growth.

To add growth, learn to lead followers. To multiply growth, lead leaders. “It is the job of a leader to build the people who are going to build the company.”

21. The Law of Legacy.

A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. “Leadership is the one thing you can’t delegate. You either exercise it – or abdicate it.”



Hiring new employees is always challenging; but recruiting and hiring salespeople is even more challenging. The process is rife with great rewards along with potential pitfalls. What follows is both an introduction to the process involved in hiring high performing sales staff, but also a leaping off point for you to explore this area more thoroughly so you can make the most informed decisions possible.

In our Mentoring Sessions, we talk about building a systematized, integrated business that includes a hiring process/system. Part of that process/ system includes a marketing strategy with clear positioning and differentiation, a quality review and control system, a lead generation system, a sales process, a flexible CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System, all of which leverages your salespeople to reach their greatest potential. Yes, I know; it’s a lot more work than simply hiring a rainmaker; but you want all the necessary pieces in place to best support your salespeople.

Next, you must clearly define the position with all responsibilities and capabilities and then decide on the exact KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) you expect the salesperson to reach. If you don’t have these fundamentals in place it’s much more difficult for a new salespeople to succeed.

To a certain extent, we all have experience in sales and most likely fulfilled the salesperson position yourself. This is extremely helpful information when you finally achieve a production level necessary to hire a salesperson.  This is because you know the “how” of creating sales and building excellent client relationships. You can now translate that knowledge into a systematic path so that others can get the same result you have.

First, be aware there are no shortcuts in this process. It takes time to find the right people, acclimate them to the culture and to train them in your systems. Sure, you can try to find “Super Stars” that start selling the moment they walk through the door, but this often results in pain later on. The best candidates aren’t necessarily the ones that can deliver the most sales in the shortest amount of time. In fact, top achieving salespeople often think about only one thing: closing sales. “Super Stars” tend to do and say anything to get a customer and in the long run they get you into trouble, by not being adaptable, trainable, controllable or willing to follow a system. We all know the ‘pain’ associated with this kind of salesperson.

Therefore, we strive to hire are sales professionals that can generate long-term relationships with customers, and who can convert and nourish those relationships.

The interview for salespeople is crucial. Most great sales people are great interviewers. However, you determine immediately they can’t sell themselves, nor do they fit with your company and culture, they probably won’t fit with your customers.  If they don’t pass the first interview, bring in the next candidate.

Salespeople often break out into two categories. One type will eventually go into business for themselves; the other will always work for someone else. Though both can fit for a while, the second type typically makes the best hire, if you want to reduce turnover in your sales force. Most business owners, want a long term relationships and to keep them producing year after year.

When you hire salespeople, you’re not just hiring an employee. You’re also choosing customers, since your salespeople play a major role in determining the types of customers you have and the relationship you have with them. You want to get it right and hire the salespeople that will bring you the kind of customers you desire.

Great salespeople are always in demand. Mediocre salespeople are fantastic sales people only when it comes to selling themselves (or interviewing).  Always dig deep in your questioning process. Find out whether they hit quotas and meet plans (how, what, when, how, where and why). Past results, awards and behaviors are the best indicators of future success. Believe it or not, the sales profession is one of the easier professions to objectively quantifiable results, with commission reports, production records and W-2’s.

So, the next decision in the hiring process is how you will structure the commission structure. Each type of payment structure attracts a different type of sales person.  For example: there is pure commission, draw plus commission, base salary plus commission, salary and incentives, or salary alone. But the first question you need to answer is, “Which structure fits YOU best?

There are definite opinions relating to each of these;

First, hiring solely commissioned salespeople because they’re the only ones truly invested in results, to hiring salaried employees, which are the best people to create teamwork and an overall investment in the company’s goals and not the individual’s.

Second, the wrong commission structure can potentially alienate the salespeople from the rest of the company. Your employees may view that salespeople work more for themselves than for the company. There are three things to consider:

Commissions typically account for a larger portion of pay when there is a short sales cycle  with high profitability, which is usually quite dependent on the salesperson’s abilities. Commissions play a smaller role when the sale requires greater technical knowledge with a longer sales cycle.  How does each plan best ‘fit’ your Cash Flow?

Third, the wrong commission structure can potentially alienate the salespeople from the rest of the company. Your employees may view that salespeople work more for themselves than for the company.

You run the risk when hiring salespeople that you sacrifice loyalty.  Seemingly with salespeople the sole motivation is money. You need to decide what is most effective in your environment to motivate your salespeople- don’t always assume it is money, nor should you negatively impact your culture or core values.

So, you’re ready to hire. Prior to making an offer follow your checklist of essential steps. (If you don’t have a checklist, create one). Ideas of what to include are:

– Commission Reports, Pipeline status, and W-2’s (past 3 years)

– References from past sales managers about their performance, and customer service levels.

– References from present/ past clients. Talk to the clients they lost.

– Who do you know that they know?  Get an unbiased testimonial from someone you know.

– Put them through a Psychometric Evaluation. (for example DiSC)

– Develop a real training program, over the next 90 days with materials/tests/manual.

– Lastly, have ‘key’ staff members interview them– other can see issues you cannot.


When comparing your level of Commitment to Excellent Service, how do your Standards compare to the Ritz-Carlton’s?

Start by comparing your written Commitment to Client Fulfillment as compared to the Ritz-Carlton Gold Standard . . .


The now-popular term “empowerment” originated with the Ritz-Carlton. Ritz-Carlton put a dollar figure on the employee’s resources for solving a problem immediately, without checking with a supervisor.  Even a new employee can commit up to $2,000 of the hotel’s funds to bring instant resolution to a guest’s problem.   Clearly, an employee cannot evade difficult situations by uttering, “That’s not my job.”  Job descriptions become irrelevant when guest satisfaction is at risk.

The Credo

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.  We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience. The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

The Motto

At The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto exemplifies the anticipatory service provided by all staff members.

Three Steps Of Service

1-    A warm and sincere greeting, using the guest’s name.

2-    Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs.

3-    Fond farewell. Give a warm good-bye and use the guest’s name.

Service Values

I Am Proud To Be Ritz-Carlton

I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.

I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.

I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.

I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.

I own and immediately resolve guest problems.

I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.

I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.

I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.

I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.

I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.

I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.

The Employee Promise

At The Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.  By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company. The Ritz-Carlton fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, individual aspirations are fulfilled, and The Ritz-Carlton Mystique is strengthened.

So let me ask the question one more time . . .  So how does your Commitment to Client Fulfillment compare to the Ritz-Carlton Gold Standard?  Maybe, yours might need some improvement.


For all the fellow business owners, we all know that owning and operating a business is not something that one undertakes lightly. It requires a huge leap of faith, time, capital and patience. It is both exciting to live your entrepreneurial dream, and at the same time scary because there is no guarantee you’ll succeed- nor is there a safety net.

As the leader of your business, you are the one with the ultimate accountability for the business’ success. That is a heavy responsibility to bear. When you get into business, you make two significant and serious leadership commitments:

1- To yourself

You’ve given up the security of working for others (perhaps even a steady pay check) to follow your passion and vision. Stepping away from the familiar requires a great deal of courage, and you owe it to yourself to put your absolute best foot forward to achieve your vision. Nobody else will do it for you.

2- To everyone else

You have made a commitment to all of the people who are impacted by your business: your family, your partners, your investors, your employees… Just to name a few. All of these people rely on your business to various degrees and all have a vested interest in your business succeeding.

For many of us, it is easier to focus on the commitments we make to others than to those we make to ourselves. We cannot stress enough however, how important it is to honor the commitment you have made to yourself.

Leadership Takes Self-Knowledge

If you’re feeling as though you’ve lost touch with your own motivation and commitment; consider what James Kouzes and Barry Posner said in their book, The Leadership Challenge:

“Leadership is an art, a performing art. And in the art of leadership, the artist’s instrument is the self. The mastery of the art of leadership comes with the mastery of the self. Ultimately, leadership development is a process of self-development. The quest for leadership is first an inner quest to discover who you are. Through self-development comes the confidence needed to lead. Self-confidence is really awareness of and faith in your own powers. These powers become clear and strong only as you work to identify and develop them.”

Knowing yourself well—really and truly well—is central to your ability to lead and to realize the commitment you made to making your business dream a reality. Self-knowledge will give you the insight, the strength and the confidence you need to lead because to lead others, you must first lead yourself. And to lead yourself, you must know yourself.

It may come across with a bit of a “new age” or “self help” spin, but the truth is that the role of the leader is the role of the Self. Think about it, the word “leader” carries no connotation of the work or tasks involved, like the words “plumber” or “programmer,” “teacher” or “engineer,” or even “manager” do. Rather, “leader” evokes personal qualities like vision, strength, integrity, honesty, confidence- or whatever your particular definition is.

So if leadership is about the person, and not about the work, to become a powerful leader you must work on yourself as a person. You need to know yourself, and continually develop yourself to be more and more of the person you want to be.

Take a Look in the Mirror

Often, under the pressure to do right by others, you end up ignoring that first and vitally important commitment: the one you made to yourself.  Many small business owners cite “not letting others down” as the main reason for persevering in a barely surviving business long after it’s stopped giving them the personal satisfaction or the financial rewards they wanted for themselves. Do not let it get to that point for you.

Remember to honor the commitment you made to yourself when you started your business and the commitment to create an extraordinary business. Furthermore, is the commitment to lead your company to success with clarity, purpose and enthusiasm. Whenever you are feeling lost, just take a look in the mirror and re-acquaint yourself with the entrepreneur, the business owner, and the leader who got you where you are today. They may all need some nurturing, some support, some guidance, but they are there.


A Case Study about GE:

Believe it or not 10 years ago General Electric had no substantial marketing organization. For decades the company believed the products could market themselves. Therefore, people designated as ‘marketers’ were assigned to sales support (lead generation and trade shows, for example) or communications (advertising and promotional materials).

Internal skeptics did not see how marketing as a function could help GE grow its businesses. Take for example GE Aviation, the multibillion-dollar division that develops and manufactures jet engines for commercial and military aircraft.  There were only a handful of aircraft manufacturers, two GE competitors (Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney), and about 300 airlines. You could put the entire industry in a conference room—it’s that compact.

But things were changing and GE was learning that it could not win simply by launching increasingly sophisticated technologies or by taking existing technologies to new markets. Some of its best-thought-out new offerings became commodities. Even executives within a business like Aviation were having trouble making sense of a rapidly changing industry. How could the business remain competitive and also prosper?

CEO Jeff Immelt issued a mandate that marketing should be a vital operating function in GE. Therefore, the solution was to focus on growth from within, across all businesses—a shift from the past, in which the top line was grown primarily by acquisition and the bottom line by seeking out efficiencies. This required a new strategy fueled by technology, innovation, global markets, and stronger customer ties. To succeed, GE would need a marketing engine that drove more-direct collaboration with customers and led to new markets.

Recognizing that marketing was vital to all GE units was one-thing, acting on that recognition was an entirely different matter. We had to define what success would look like and describe how we would measure results. At the time, GE had no ready or consistent way of calibrating marketing efforts across units, markets, or business models, and we couldn’t find one in any textbook. Perhaps most challenging, we had to identify and develop leadership capabilities in our team, whose track record was uneven at best. In the process of creating what we believed would be the definitive marketing function, we arrived at new ways of thinking about marketing and about how to compose a first-rate marketing team.

The result was a marketing framework for the entire company along three dimensions:

1- Principles (creating a common language and standards)

GE created standard procedures and central expertise for functions like finance and HR, but marketing practices varied by product line, unit, or region. From late 2008 through mid-2009 we had 30 of our best marketers to develop new standards for this function. We learned that regardless of industry or region, they were struggling with the same issues. So we assigned teams of like-minded experts to define the skills we needed to master. They organized eight disciplines into two groups: go-to-market activities (such as segmentation) and commercial essentials (such as branding and communications). To our knowledge, no other company had pulled these disciplines into one framework along with detailed definitions of success. We set out to make sure that at least one business could be considered an expert in each category.

2- People (getting the right leaders in place)

We found that successful marketers play four roles, some of them unusual in marketing: Instigators challenge the status quo and look for new and better ways of doing things. Innovators turn marketplace insights into untested products, services, or solutions. Integrators build bridges across silos and functions and between the company and the market. Implementers execute on ideas.

3- Process (including very specific measures for grading performance)

Once we knew what we wanted from marketing, we developed metrics for evaluating our teams on the skills defined by our principles. How would we know we were making progress and delivering results? That question led us to a process we call the Maturity Evaluation. Our framework centered on giving marketing a revenue-generating role in its own right. If GE could no longer rely solely on technology breakthroughs for hefty margins, we’d have to find both innovative ways of serving customers based on investments we’d already made and opportunities in new markets, new segments, and new products.

Marketers took their place alongside technologists and had a voice earlier in the process, to ensure that GE’s offerings were differentiated and aimed at the right customer segments. As Immelt saw it, marketing would have a “line” role instead of its historical “staff” role at GE, and would be held responsible for such as pricing and quantifying value for customers. GE’s global growth with “more products at more price points,” meant that GE must not only target high-end users but also apply “just what’s needed” technology to better meet customer needs.