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The Application of Leadership Theroy (Final Paper part 3 of 4)

Hello  again Chef Fan’s! Here is the 3rd part of my final paper. Stay tuned for a much more personal update.

With all of the different ways that the leadership puzzle can be put together to get the same basic picture it is important that we understand why the study of leadership is important. In order to apply the different theories behind leadership you must study and understand when it would be best to apply each theory. Few things on earth are as pervasive as leadership. Leadership is seen in the board room and in the kindergarten classroom. Leadership is needed to guide nations as well as a local scout troop.  Perhaps the fact that leadership is “omnipresent” is why it is often ignored, neglected and taken for granted. It’s like air; we don’t even think about it unless it’s lacking.

While there has always been a need for leadership, leadership today is more difficult and more necessary than ever before, primarily because our world is vastly more complex and the rate of change is ever increasing. Globalization, the World Wide Web, plus other radical changes have complicated our lives and increased the need for leadership. Leadership is also a relationship between leaders and followers; they are two sides of the same coin. A great leader cannot function without great followers and vice-versa. Sometimes being a good follower is more difficult than leading. For an organization to flourish it needs both competent leaders and capable followers. As individuals, throughout life we will always function in both capacities, because leadership requires followers. Interestingly, as important as leadership is, very few people have ever systematically and thoroughly studied leadership. The good news is that leadership skills can be learned and developed; there are practical steps a leader can take to greatly improve his or her effectiveness. The question is often asked, “Are leaders born or made?” Some people may be predisposed to leadership because they possess a strong personality, creativity, organization, high energy, or are bold, visionary, etc. Everyone is capable of developing leadership skills, though. The myth that leadership is reserved for only a few of us, and that leadership is associated with position is an assumption that leadership starts with a capital “L” and that when you’re on top you’re automatically a leader. Leadership is not a place; leadership is an observable set of skills and abilities that are useful whether one is in the executive suite or on the front line of a kitchen.

Granted, the skills of a leader are hard to train without current leaders showing us the way that these leadership theories can be applied. Current leaders in any industry are going to show us both the good and bad ways to apply the theories behind leadership each and every day. When it really comes down to it the leaders in the hospitality and foodservice industry are both companies that set a standard for service like the Ritz Carlton, and the well know Chefs that are breaking new ground when it comes to the culinary arts. For Chefs there is even an award for the application of leadership. The James Beard “Leadership Awards recognize specific outstanding initiatives as well as bodies of work and a lifetime achievement. Excellence of work, innovation in approach, and scale of impact within a community or the nation are all among the criteria used to select the winners.”[1]

“We are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen.” This simple yet to the point motto of the Ritz Carlton is also a core component to their leadership style. The Ritz Carlton strives to apply the theories of leadership to every employee so that everything they do is aimed a pleasing the guest. In this same respect Ritz Carlton also offers a training course for non-employees to further their own leadership training. To this end they have created “The Leadership Center as a resource for leading organizations interested in benchmarking many of the business practices that led to The Ritz-Carlton becoming a two-time recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.”[2] This application of leadership both inside and outside of the company is what has helped the Ritz Carlton be an industry leader for years.

When it comes down to it, though, the everyday application of leadership is still what each leader is striving for. While there may be hundreds or even thousands of ideas on how to best apply the theories behind leadership it has been said by self proclaimed “expert-leader” John C. Maxwell that there are 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. Each of these 21 laws is a basic guideline of what leaders need to do in order to be successful. Many of the laws of leadership are just reiterations of leadership theory but they go into more depth and provided real examples of how the laws and theories can be applied and used. Taking each law as it is is only the first step; the second is using the laws in conjunction.  According to John C. Maxwell the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership are as follows:

  • The Law of the Lid.
    • Leadership is like a lid or a ceiling on an organization. That’s why when a corporation or team needs to be fixed, they fire the leader.
  • The Law of Influence.
    • Leadership is simply about influencing people. Nothing more, nothing less. The true test of a leader is to ask him to create positive change in an organization. If you cannot create change, you cannot lead.
  • The Law of Process.
    • Leadership is learned over time, and it can be learned. People skills, emotional strength, vision, momentum, and timing are all areas that can and should be learned.
  • 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 will also see obstacles before others do. A leader sees more, sees farther, and sees before others.
  • The Law of E.F. Hutton.
    • Hutton was America’s most influential stock market analyst. When he spoke, everyone listened. When real leaders speak, people automatically listen.
  • The Law of Solid Ground.
    • Trust is the foundation for all effective leadership. When it comes to leadership, there are no shortcuts. Building trust requires competence, connection and character.
  • 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.
  • The Law of Intuition.
    • Leaders evaluate everything with a Leadership bias. Leaders see trends, resources and problems, and can read people.
  • The Law of Magnetism.
    • Leaders attract people like themselves.
  • 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.
  • 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.” (p113)
  • 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.” (p127).
  • The Law of Reproduction.
    • It takes a leader to raise up a leader.
  • 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.
  • The Law of Victory.
    • Leaders find a way for the team to win. “You can’t win WITHOUT good athletes, but you CAN lose with them.” (p162).
  • The Law of Momentum.
    • You can’t steer a ship that isn’t moving forward. It takes a leader to create forward motion.
  • The Law of Priorities.
    • Activity is not necessarily accomplishment. “A leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells “Wrong Jungle!”” (p176)
  • The Law of Sacrifice.
    • A leader must give up to go up. Successful leaders must maintain an attitude of sacrifice to turn around an organization.”When you become a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself.”
  • 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 will bring success.
  • The Law of Explosive Growth.
    • To add growth, lead followers. To multiply growth, lead leaders.
  • 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.”

– Maxwell, John C. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008. Print.


The laws are only steps to help one become, understand and maintain leadership; they alone do not make a great leader, though. A leader must prove him or her-self through action. In times of change they play a role, and that role determines whether or not their followers will follow them or turn to someone else. With the application of the theories and an understanding of the cultural and contextual influences that impact leadership almost every piece of the leadership puzzle is in place. The laws of leadership have helped put the last few pieces into place but the problem is that the last pieces of the leadership puzzle is the impacts that our changing culture have on leadership every day. This means that the last hole to fill in our leadership puzzle is changing just as often, and how a leader reacts and adapts to changes will define them as a leader.

[1] Navigating for Awards

[2] The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center


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