Law 1 – The Law of the Lid

Maxwell’s first law, The Law of the Lid, states that leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. Maxwell uses the example of the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc in trying to illustrate his point. However, what he fails to realize, and why this law is not valid, is that not everyone wants to use their leadership ability on a large-scale. The McDonald brothers were able to create a successful brand, they were able to modify their restaurant business plan by only serving walk-up customers as the industry trends began to change, and eventually they began to expand and allow others to benefit from their success by franchising their restaurants. The McDonald brothers were great leaders on a small and local level and may not have wanted to take their business model global as Ray Kroc did later. This does not necessarily make them poor or ineffective leaders. Instead, it just one example of how different people may have different priorities. The McDonald brothers cashed out of the business for $2.7 million in 1961, which is equal to approximately $20 million today. As a result, they were able to retire and just enjoy the rest of their life if they desired. Not everyone wants to conquer the world or expand into a global brand so relating a person’s leadership ability directly to the how large they can grow their company is an error that Maxwell makes. With respect to ethical leadership in sports management, one example of how this can be used is with a college head coach such as Duke’s Coach K. No one would argue that Coach K is not an effective or ethical leader, yet he has never taken a job in the NBA. Much like the McDonald brothers, Coach K is happy where he is at and with how much money he is making and has no desire to take the next step up the ladder. Another example in the realm of ethical leadership in sports management is the opposite to Coach K, which would be someone like Coach Kiffin, someone who tries to step up and down the ladder in between college and pros every chance he gets, bouncing from job to job just doing whatever benefits him the most. Much like Coach K at the pro level, someone like Coach Phil Jackson shows that one can also be a great leader at the highest level of sports, not having to sacrifice their ideals in order to succeed at the highest levels. These examples show that with respect to ethical leadership in sports management, what really matters is the priorities of the person who is doing the leading. One can be a leader on a local, regional, national or worldwide level, but directly relating how effective a leader is by their ability to globally grow a business or their brand does not hold up in sports management as evidenced by the examples given with Coach K, Coach Kiffin, and Coach Phil Jackson.


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