Are You A Lid Lifter?


“Leadership is influence, nothing more…nothing less.”
– John C. Maxwell

My journey with leadership began about 20 years ago. During the last five years, I was fortunate enough to be mentored by Dr. John C. Maxwell, one of the best leadership coaches in the world. From his coaching, I have grown and developed as a leader significantly. I have learned many valuable lessons, and have developed key leadership skills and characteristics, few of which I’d like to share with you, but first I’d like to ask you a few questions.

Have you ever worked with a leader who held you back? Have you ever felt like your growth was limited? The fact of the matter is that it is not that your manager, boss, or coach has negative intentions for you; it’s more likely that they have become comfortable in their leadership style. We refer to them as “leaders with low lids.”

Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. Your leadership ability determines your potential impact on your organization. Raising the lid enables you to reach the highest level of effectiveness and have greater impact on people around you. Examples of low lids can be: fear, denial, jealousy, anger, doubt, impulsiveness, lack of confidence, lack of knowledge, and negative perceptions. Every leader has a lid, but any leader can become a lifter. Dr. John Maxwell who teaches the fundamentals of “Becoming a Better Leader” explains this concept of low lids wonderfully.

Understanding the “Law of the Lid” by Dr. John Maxwell

One’s leadership ability is determined by a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid is. Therefore, the greater the desire to influence through leadership, the greater the effectiveness and ability to increase growth and direction is. The issue here is not that you have a “lid,” but instead, what are going to do to lift it? It is crucial to understand that you cannot lift the lid on your own; it’s based on the personal and organizational effectiveness of the leader.

If you are a leader who has become comfortable with “what works” you have limited yourself and everyone you influence in your team. As a leader, you should make the conscious choice to learn from the experiences of your past in order to provide effective leadership to the people you coach and influence. The heights that you set for yourself will be the heights that your teams will strive for too. The lid that a leader bears will be the lead his team bears. Here are a few of the key characteristics of a lid lifter.

  1. Lid lifters look for lid lifting experiences to grow their leadership capacity. They seek and cease opportunities for lid lifting to encourage people with their words, show commitment with their actions, and demonstrate their selflessness with their sacrifices. They strive to grow and add value themselves and others. A lid lifter is in the business of perpetual growth and value.
  2. Lid lifters practice and provide open and honest communication. As a leader, you must be able to practice a policy of honesty. By being able to communicate openly and honestly with your team, you have already lifted the lid of fear and judgment. Such leaders are able to change the culture and environment of a workplace. Honest communication results in honest work.
  3. Lid lifters coach people instead of telling them what to do. They lead by example instead of demands. They lead and coach others beyond discomforts and into success and personal development. Such leaders set high standards and pursues goals with purpose. By coaching a person, you have added value to them and have set them on the path of success. In lid lifting, coaching will lift other people’s lids.
  4. Lid lifters love people unconditionally. The love for other people should fuel your leadership. This passion will ignite wonders in your relationships and become success in your leadership. You can’t lead people without loving them.
  5. Lid lifters serve and help other as a daily practice. They want to help transform other people’s lives. This leadership service is beyond the self. Leadership is about the people you serve, not the title you hold. A life of service will serve you well.
  6. Lid lifters are trustworthy. They practice, value, and respect the trust they have in people and the trust people have in them. A leader with title without trust from its followers is futile. We refer to these type of leaders as “positional leaders.” They do not value relationship building, they decrease motivation, and they are a liability to the organization. A leader who is trustworthy and seeks to earn his followers’ trust is an asset to his team and organization. There is no risk or fear in his leadership. He is trusted to lift lids.
  7. Lid lifters lead and live a life of significance. In everything that you do, pursue significance. A lid lifter’s actions, motives, agenda, and goals are all in coherence with creating value. Such leaders strive to create significance in all that they does, in every relationship that is formed, and in every project that is produced. Lid lifters seek and create significance in all that they do.

These characteristics require discipline, self-awareness and dedication. A leader should choose to be a lid lifter. “Lifting the lid” is a deliberate and conscious choice that does not happen by accident or by chance. A good leader is not only self aware but also aware of others. Such leaders are able to gage any situation or circumstance and make the proper choices accordingly.

If you are a leader who is in search of self-betterment and would like to become successful, then I encourage you to implore these key characteristics of lid lifters. They will assure your growth and success as a leader. If you recognize that your lid might be too low as a leader, then make the choice to be a “lid lifter.” You are your greatest challenge. If you can overcome your own shortcomings and choose to change, then you are unstoppable.

Leadership is not a title, nor is it a position; it is a way of life. You cannot become a leader over night, but you can start your leadership journey over night. You choose the type of leader you want to be, you choose the environment you work in, and you choose the influence you have. The true measure of your leadership is your influence. Ultimately, you choose the lid you bare. The sky can be the limit. What do you choose?

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