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The 17 Indisputable

Laws of Teamwork

Study Guide

last update = 17Sep2015

This document contains a summary and reflection questions for
The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John Maxwell

1-Law of Significance ...................................................1 Interaction fuels action.

One is too small a number to achieve greatness. 15-Law of the Edge ...................................................... 8
2-Law of Big Picture .....................................................1 The difference between two equally talented teams
is leadership.
The goal is more important than the role.
16-Law of High Morale............................................... 8
3-Law of the Niche........................................................ 2
When youre winning, nothing hurts.
All players have a place where they add most
value. 17-Law of Dividends..................................................... 9
4-Law of Mount Everest ............................................2 Investing in the team compounds over time.
As challenges escalate, need for teamwork
escalates as well.

5-Law of the Chain ....................................................... 3

Strength of the team is impacted by its weakest link.

6-Law of the Catalyst ...................................................3

Winning teams have players who make things

7-Law of the Compass ................................................4

Vision gives team members direction and

8-Law of the Bad Apple ..............................................4

Rotten attitudes ruin a team.

9-Law of Countability ....................................................5

Members must be able to count on each other
when it counts.

10-Law of the Price Tag ............................................5

A team fails to reach potential if it fails to pay the

11-Law of the Scoreboard ........................................6

A team can make adjustments when it knows where
it stands.

12-Law of the Bench ...................................................6

Great teams have great depth.

13-Law of Identity ..........................................................7

Shared values define the team.

14-Law of Communication ........................................7

1-Law of Significance 2-Law of Big Picture
One is too small a number to achieve The goal is more important than the role.
Members of a team must have mutually
An individual acting alone never achieves beneficial shared goals. Winning teams have
anything of significance. Look below the surface. players who put the good of the team ahead of
You will find seemingly You may be good-but themselves. That may mean sacrificing personal
solo acts are team youre not that good! satisfaction or glory. When you see the big
efforts. Why is that true? picture correctly, you
Teams bring energy, resources, skills, and How can you help a team serve the team more
ideas not available to an individual. become a big picture quickly.
Teams provide a broader and deeper insight team?
to problems.
Teams foster humility and community. 1. Look up at the Big Picture. Establish a clear
Teams hold one another accountable. vision that all members support.
2. Size up the situation. Help members see
Why are we tempted to do things alone? how challenging the goal is and how
important their contributions will be.
1. Ego: Few people are fond of admitting they 3. Line up needed resources. The better
cant do everything themselves. resourced the team is, the fewer
2. Insecurity: Some individuals are threatened distractions they will have in reaching the
by other people. They fear loss of control. goal.
They fear that someone might be better 4. Call up the right players. You cant win with
than they are. bad players. Only bring people onto the team
3. Naivety: Some individuals underestimate who support the vision and have skills that
the difficulty of achieving big things. will help the team achieve the goal.
4. Temperament: It is not natural for some 5. Give up personal agendas. Help team
people to form teams. It doesnt occur to members remember to ask, Whats best
them as the way to do things. for the rest?

Reflect and Apply Reflect and Apply

Think about a big dream you have. Are you participating in something greater
than yourself? Are you willing to take a
Is it bigger than you are? subordinate role to reach the goal?
Would it benefit others? Think of ways you can help team members
Is it worth dedicating a large amount of your embrace the law of the Big Picture.
effort to make it a reality? Paint the big picture vision.
Honor team members who sacrifice for the
If you answered yes to all three questions, think good of the team.
about the kinds of people that would make a
good team to achieve the dream. Make a list of
people you know who would be good on the
team. Invite them to team up with you.

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3-Law of the Niche 4-Law of Mount Everest
All players have a place where they add most As challenges escalate, need for teamwork
value. escalates as well.

When the right team If you have a dream, you The time to build your
You are most valuable
member is in the right where you add the need a team to team is before you
place, everyone benefits. most value. accomplish it. How do have a critical
Great things happen you put together your challenge.
when all members on the team take the role team?
that maximizes their strength. When a team
member is in the wrong position, morale 1. Define your dream. What would you like to
erodes. Those serving in an area of weakness accomplish during your time on earth?
become resentful that their best is untapped. 2. Evaluate your existing team. Your potential is
Others on the team who think they could do only as good as your existing team.
better also become resentful. People become 3. Define your dream team. What type of team
unwilling to work as a team. would it take to realize your dream? Your
team is key.
To put people in the places that best use their
talents and benefit the team, you must know: The kind of challenge determines the kind of
1. The Team: Be clear on the teams purpose, team you need.
culture, and history.
2. The Situation: Be clear on the teams Type of Challenge Type of Team
current challenges.
New Creative
3. The Players: Be clear on each persons
experience, skills, temperament, attitude, Controversial United
passion, discipline, and potential. Do not Changing Fast and Flexible
push people out of their gift zones.
Unpleasant Motivated
How do you find your niche? Diversified Complementary
Be secure enough to change and try new
Long-term Determined
Keep trying new roles until you find the one Everest-sized Experienced
that makes your heart sing.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. When your team doesnt match the challenge:
Trust your leader or get on another team.
Be committed to the big picture for the team Develop the team members.
or get on another team. Enthusiastic beginners need direction.
Disillusioned learners need coaching.
Reflect and Apply
Cautious completers need support.
Self-reliant achievers need responsibility.
If you know your niche but are not working in Add key team members to fill gaps.
it, start planning a transition. Consider having a team member step into a
If you have no idea of your niche, look for leadership role for a season.
recurring themes in your life, take some After attempts at training and coaching, if a
temperament tests, ask others to describe member does not have the skills or attitude
your strengths, and try new things.

Laws of Teamwork [ 2

necessary for the team, remove that If yes, put a plan in place to address the issues
ineffective member. or to find another team.

Reflect and Apply

6-Law of the Catalyst
You cannot win a great challenge alone. Teach Winning teams have players who make things
yourself to rally with your team. happen.
That which is true for team members is true
for the leader. If you dont grow, you must go.
Without a catalyst, a team loses focus, gets out
of rhythm, decreases in energy, breaks down in
5-Law of the Chain unity, and loses momentum. A catalyst is a
person who gets it done and then some, who
Strength of the team is impacted by its brings intensity and fun to the team.
weakest link.
A weak link will To recognize a potential catalyst, look for people
Your team is not for eventually rob the who are:
everyone. team of momentum
Not everyone will take and potential. Intuitive: They sense things others dont.
your journey. Some will Communicative: They say things others dont
not want to go. say to get the team moving. They know when a
Not everyone should take your journey. person needs a boost and when a person
Where you are going is not right for some. need a boot.
Not everyone can take your journey. Some will Passionate: They bring contagious enthusiasm
not have the skills required for the journey. to a team.
Talented: They have the skills to succeed and
The Impact of a Weak Link on Stronger share their gifts with others to help them
Members: succeed.
1. They have to help the weak links. Creative: They look for fresh, innovative ways
2. They begin to resent the weak links. to do things.
3. They become less effective because of the Initiating: They step forward to make things
increased load covering for the weak links. happen.
4. They begin to question the leaders ability to Responsible: They are willing to carry the load
deal with the weak links. to make things happen.
Generous: They give of themselves to carry
Reflect and Apply something through.
Influential: Others respond to what they say
Prioritize your responsibilities: organization first and do.
> the team > individual team members > yourself
last. Reflect and Apply

Are you hindering the team? You need catalysts to push the team to its
Having trouble keeping pace with the team. potential.
Not growing in my area of responsibility. Identify and enlist catalysts for your team.
Not supportive of big picture. Identify those with the potential to be
Difficulty seeing my weaknesses. catalysts. Encourage them and help them
Struggling to work well with team members. develop as catalysts.

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7-Law of the Compass 8-Law of the Bad Apple
Vision gives team members direction and Rotten attitudes ruin a team.
Why Are Attitudes Important?
A team that embraces a vision becomes
focused, energized, and confident. It knows When attitudes go up so does the potential of
where it is headed and why it is going there. the team.
Attitude is catching. Your attitude is key
A Teams Vision Must Be Aligned with a: Bad attitudes compound to shaping the
1. Moral Compass (look above): This helps faster than good ones. teams attitude.
members check their motives. Rotten attitudes left
2. Intuitive Compass (look within): It must alone ruin a team.
resonate with team members to fire up the
committed and fry the uncommitted. Attitudes are subjective. Watch for symptoms
3. Historical Compass (look behind): It should like these:
build on the past to show value of those who
have contributed. Use stories. Inability to admit when they are wrong.
4. Directional Compass (look ahead): Use goals Failing to forgive. Holding a grudge.
to bring targets to the vision. Petty jealously. Expecting the same rewards
5. Strategic Compass (look around): Develop a for less results or contribution to the team.
strategy. People need instruction in what to Overpowering belief in their own importance.
do to make the vision become a reality. Hogging all the credit. Seeking the spotlight
6. Visionary Compass (look beyond): Challenge even if they have not earned it.
people with a far-reaching vision. A critical spirit. Never praising others.

Reflect and Apply Reflect and Apply

Do you know and embrace your teams vision? If you notice the symptoms of a bad attitude in
If not, perhaps you belong on another team. someone, you may have a bad apple on your
How does your teams vision align with your team. Conduct a crucial conversation with the
strengths, convictions, and purpose? person.

A leader is responsible for keeping the vision in Tell him what you have observed.
front of people. Every vision message should Give him the opportunity to clarify or correct
possess: your impressions.
Set clear expectations for behaviors on the
Clarity Connectedness team.
Hold him accountable.
Purpose Goals
If he does not meet expectations, remove him
Honesty Stories from the team.
Challenge Passion
Assess your own attitude and how you behave
Modeling Strategy towards team members. Do you need an
attitude adjustment?

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9-Law of Countability 10-Law of the Price Tag
Members must be able to count on each other A team fails to reach potential if it fails to pay
when it counts. the price.

The Formula for Countability Truths about the Price Tag

We dont work for each Character 1. Every member must pay the price.
other; we work with each +Competence 2. You must continue to pay the price. Avoid
other. +Commitment destination disease where you think that
+Consistency meeting one goal means you can stop
Character: Person you can +Cohesion working.
trust. ----------------------------- 3. The price increases if the team wants to
Competence: Person who = Countability improve or change. Each member must
is able to do his part. step up to the challenge.
Commitment: Person who 4. The price never decreases. Each person
will not give up when things become difficult. must decide whether the goal is worth the
Consistency: Person who is reliable over time. price they must pay.
Cohesion: Person who puts the team first.
The Price of Being a Team Player
Reflect and Apply
Sacrifice: You will need to put much effort into
How is your countability? supporting the team.
Time Commitment: It takes time to build
Key Quality never<.....>always relationships and learn how to become a
Demonstrate high Personal Development: You will need to keep
integrity 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 growing to continue to benefit the team.
Serve with excellence 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 Unselfishness: You will need to think of the
teams needs above your own.
Dedicated to the teams
success 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 Reflect and Apply

Reliable 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Which of your personal goals are you willing to
Act to pull the team give up for the team?
together 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 If you are the leader, model sacrifice by:
Continuing to grow for the teams sake.
Giving your time for the teams sake.
How can you promote countability on your
Empowering others for the teams sake.
Making difficult decisions for the teams
Give recognition to the team when possible.
Once you have modeled sacrifice, challenge
Encourage things that promote team identity.
team members to do the same.
Focus on a common purpose.
Reward team members for making sacrifices
Take time to have fun together.
and tell them how it makes a difference.
Be an example of high countability.

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11-Law of the Scoreboard There are more people on the bench than
there are starters. Neglecting the majority of
A team can make adjustments when it knows the team brings failure to the whole team.
where it stands. A correctly placed bench player will at times
be more valuable than a starter.
Team that succeed make A strong bench gives the leader more options.
When you know The bench is key at critical times for the team.
adjustments to continually what to do, you
improve themselves and can do what you
their situations. The game You Can Predict the Future of the Team by
plan tells what you want to Three Things
happen. The scorecard tells you what is
happening. You need a scorecard to: 1. Who is joining the team? Only add good
Provide a snapshot of where you are. players. If you find a strong potential player,
Evaluate your performance. consider adding him even if you dont have
Help you make decisions. an open position.
2. How are you developing the team? Take the
Help you see where to make adjustments.
initiative to make sure everyone on the team
Reflect and Apply is growing and improving.
3. Who is leaving the team? People will come
How do you measure progress for your and go. The key is to replace each loss with
ministry? a more effective person. Remove people
As a leader, how do you make sure your team who dont add value.
members continue to evaluate, adjust, and
Reflect and Apply
make good decisions?
How consistently and effectively do you
consult your scorecard? Are you building the bench today for the crisis
you will face tomorrow?
Consider these factors when recruiting:
12-Law of the Bench Passion (what motivates the person)
Pattern (in what situations they tend to
Great teams have great depth. succeed)
Starters = frontline people who directly Profile (how well they would fit your culture)
influence the course of the organization and Placement (which team would benefit most
spend time in the spotlight from their participation and where they
Bench = people who indirectly add value and are would most likely thrive)
often neglected and overlooked Are you cultivating an attitude of service and
The Bench is Indispensable Do you perform at your best for the sake of
the team?
Most successful people begin as apprentices Do you honor the people on the bench? Are
on the bench. Good leaders keep their eyes you mentoring a teammate on the bench?
open for emerging talent. As a leader, are you making sure the revolving
The success of a supporting member can door moves so that players joining are better
multiply the success of a starter. When each than those who are leaving?
person works in an area of strength, the
entire team wins.

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13-Law of Identity 2. Teammates to Leader: Be direct and
respectful when communicating with a
Shared values define the team. leader.
3. Among Teammates: Communicate for the
If everyone embraces the same values, team common good.
members have a connection to one another and Be supportive.
to the team. Organizational values influence and Stay current. Avoid rehashing issues. Settle
guide the teams behavior. them and move forward.
Be vulnerable (open and frank).
Shared values are like: 4. Between the Team and the Public: Once you
leave the room, have a united voice. When
Glue: Hold people together in difficult times. people approach you:
A Foundation: Make things stable. Listen to what they say. Be sure you
A Ruler: Set the standard for performance. understand their concerns.
Note: They only have meaning if people behave Respond without delay.
consistent with the stated values. Be realistic in the commitments you make.
A Compass: Let people know if they are
Reflect and Apply
heading in the right direction and making the
right decisions.
If there are barriers to good communication
A Magnet: Attract people with like values.
between you and a teammate, you need to
An Identity: Give the team a unique identity.
remove those barriers.
Reflect and Apply Leaders must be good listeners. When a
leader is a poor listener, he misses out on
Do team members demonstrate our important information, the team stops
ANTIOCHian values? communicating, and team performance
As a leader, do you practice and teach others suffers.
our values?
How well do you listen? How do you know?

What do they poor <.....> good

14-Law of Communication think about my
Interaction fuels action.
Those I lead 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Every teams needs to develop Communication My peers 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
good communication in four increases
directions. connection. My leader or coach 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

1. Leader to Teammates: Those I serve 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5

Leadership rises and falls on
communication. A leaders communication
should be:
Clear (straightforward)

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15-Law of the Edge Emancipator: It gives the team a sense of
freedom to take risks.
The difference between two equally talented
teams is leadership. Stages of Morale and What a Leader Should
Good leaders can provide a lift to a team. Ways
they do that include: Stage Leader Tasks
Poor Morale: Fix whats broken.
Delegates responsibility and authority for key Leader must do Show people you believe in
tasks. it all them.
Knows what motivates each team member Be energetic.
and gives assignments with that in mind. Communicate hope.
Coaches team members to bring out their
potential. Low Morale: Model high-return
Leader must do behaviors.
Learns quickly and helps others learn as well.
productive Develop relationships with
Models continuous learning.
things high-potential people.
The more leaders a team develops, the greater Arrange small victories.
the edge from leadership. Communicate vision.
Moderate Make changes to improve
Reflect and Apply Morale: Leader the team.
must do difficult Earn buy-in from team
You dont have to be the leader to be a leader things members.
on your team. Communicate commitment.
Take personal responsibility for your Develop and equip
leadership growth. members.

If you are the leader of a team: High Morale: Keep the team focused.
Leader must do Communicate successes.
Attract the best leader to the team that you
little things Remove morale mashers.
can. Look for people whose talent is greater
than yours. Allow others to lead.
Develop the people already on the team.
Reflect and Apply

16-Law of High Morale As a team member, your dedication and

enthusiasm will help your own performance
When youre winning, nothing hurts. and inspire some of your teammates.
As a leader, assess the morale level of your
High morale helps the team perform at its best. team. Perform the corresponding tasks in the
table above to help move your team to the
High Morale is the Great... next stage of morale. (If your team is at the
Exaggerator: It makes everything seem good. high moral level, dont take it for granted.
Elevator: Performance goes up a level. Keep performing the tasks.)
Energizer: The team has high energy.
Eliminator: It helps the team work through
obstacles that would ordinarily stop them.

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Reflect and Apply
17-Law of Dividends
Investing in the team compounds over time. As a team member, are you giving a good
return for what your teammates are investing
in you?
Developing people pays off in every way. When
everyone on the team is investing in others, the As a leader, take responsibility for investing in
your core leaders.
benefits are like those of compound interest.
As a leader, make investing in others part of
your organizations culture.
Get Started

1. Decide to invest in the team. This starts the

2. Gather the best team possible. This elevates
the potential of the team.
3. Pay the price to develop the team. This
ensures growth. You will have to give up
something to have the resources necessary
to develop the team.
4. Do things as a team. This provides
community. Share some common
5. Empower team members. This raises up
leaders for the team. Avoid holding too
tightly to your power or position.
6. Give credit for success to the team. This lifts
team morale. Compliment those who
7. Observe how your investment is yielding
results. This bring accountability to the
8. Stop investing in members who dont grow.
This eliminates losses for the team. Spend
your time on those who want to grow and
are growing.
9. Create new opportunities for the team. This
allows them to stretch.
10.Give the team the best chance to succeed.
This guarantees the team a high return.
Clear as many obstacles as you can.

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