Team Coach | The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork

A Summary of The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork
by John Maxwell

John Maxwell has authored more than thirty leadership books, including several New York Times bestsellers. Prior to his career as a consultant and public speaker he was a church leader. You can see how this experience has influenced his philosophy in this series of videos based on his book The 17 Indistuble Laws of Teamwork.

The videos cover 12 of the 17 Laws and run for up to 20 minutes each. They're worth listening to (when you have the time) as they provide a useful insight to some of the basic priniciples of effective teamwork - but if you're short on time you'll also find a summary of the key points for each Law.

1. The Law of Significance
One is too small a number to achieve greatness

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 01 1 

People try to achieve great things by themselves mainly because of the size of their ego, their level of insecurity, or simple naivete; and temperament. One is too small a number to achieve greatness.

2. The Law of the Big Picture
The goal is more important than the role.

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 03 1 

Members must be willing to subordinate their roles and personal agendas to support the team vision. By seeing the big picture, effectively communicating the vision to the team, providing the needed resources, and hiring the right players, leaders can create a more unified team.

3. The Law of the Niche
All players have a place where they add the most value

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 04 1

A sign of a great team leader is the proper placement of people.

All players have a place where they add the most value. Essentially, when the right team member is in the right place, everyone benefits. To be able to put people in their proper places and fully utilize their talents and maximize potential, you need to know your players and the team situation. Evaluate each person's skills, discipline, strengths, emotions, and potential.

Wrong Person/Wrong Place = Regression
Wrong Person/Right Place = Frustration
Right Person/Wrong Place = Confusion
Right Person/Right Place = Progression
Right People/Right Places = Multiplication

4. The Law of Mount Everest
As the challenge escalates, the need for teamwork elevates

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 05 1

Focus on the team and the dream should take care of itself. The type of challenge determines the type of team you require:

A new challenge requires a creative team.
An ever-changing challenge requires a fast, flexible team.
An Everest-sized challenge requires an experienced team.

See who needs direction, support, coaching, or more responsibility. Add members, change leaders to suit the challenge of the moment, and remove ineffective members.

5. The Law of the Chain
The strength of the team is impacted by its weakest link.

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 06 1

When a weak link remains on the team the stronger members identify the weak one and end up having to help him. They come to resent him, become less effective, and ultimately question their leader's ability.

Your Team is Not For Everyone

1. Not everyone will take the journey
2. Not everyone should take the journey
3. Not everyone can take the journey

How do you recognize people who fall into this category?

  • They can't keep up with other team members.
  • They don't grow in their area of responsibility.
  • They don't see the big picture.
  • They won't work on personal weaknesses.
  • They won't work with the rest of the team.
  • They can't fulfill expectations for their area.

6. The Law of the Catalyst
Winning teams have players who make things happen

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 07 1 

Winning teams have players who make things happen. These are the catalysts, or the get-it-done-and-then-some people who are naturally intuitive, communicative, passionate, talented, creative people who take the initiative, are responsible, generous, and influential.


7. The Law of the Compass
Vision gives team members direction and confidence.

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 08 1

Every team needs a compelling vision to give it direction. A team without vision is at worst, purposeless. At best, it is subject to the personal (and sometimes selfish) agendas of teammates. As the agendas work against each other, the team's energy and drive drain away. A team that embraces a vision becomes focused, energized, and confident. It knows where it's headed and why it's going there.

A team should examine the following six "compasses"

1. A Moral Compass. (Look Above)
Great businesses are built along the lines of the strictest integrity.

2. An Intuitive Compass. (Look Within)
The true fire of passion and conviction burns only from within. It fires up the committed and fries the uncommitted.

3. A Historical Compass (Look Behind)
Make positive use of anything contributed by previous teams in the organization.

4. A Directional Compass (Look Ahead)
Vision provides direction, goals bring concrete targets to serve the vision.

5. A Strategic Compass (Look Around)
Strategy brings process to the vision.

6. A Visionary Compass (Look Beyond)
You must have a long-range vision to keep from being frustrated by short-range failures.


8. The Law of The Bad Apple
Rotten attitudes ruin a team.

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 09 1

  • Bad Attitudes have the power to lift up or tear down a team

  • An attitude compounds when exposed to others

  • Bad attitudes compound faster than good ones

The first place to start is with your self.

Do you think the team wouldn't be able to get along without you? Do you secretly believe that recent team successes are attributable to your personal efforts, not the work of the whole team? Do you keep score when it comes to the praise and perks handed out to other team members? Do you have a hard time admitting you made a mistake? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to keep your attitude in check.

9. The Law of Countability
Teammates must be able to count on each other when it counts.

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 10 1

The greatest compliment you can receive is being counted on.

Ask yourself if your integrity is unquestionable, if you perform your work with excellence, if you are dedicated to the team's success, if you can be depended on every time, and if your actions bring the team together.

William Cohen's suggestions for team leaders include:

1. Develop pride in group membership.
2. Convince your group that they are the best.
3. Give recognition whenever possible.
4. Encourage organizational mottos, names, symbols, and slogans.
5. Establish your group's worth by promoting its history and values.
6. Focus on the common purpose.
7. Encourage people to participate in activities together outside of work


10. The Law of the Price Tag
The team fails to reach its potential when it fails to pay the price

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 01 2 from Living, Learning and Loving! on Vimeo.

The team fails to reach its potential when it fails to pay the price. Sacrifice, time commitment, personal development, and unselfishness are part of the price we pay for team success.

The 4 truths about the Law of the PriceTag:

1. The price must be paid by everyone.
2. The price must be paid all the time.
3. The price increases if the team wants to improve, change, or keep winning.
4. The price never decreases.

When it comes to the law of the price tag, there are only two kinds of teams who violate it: Those who don't realize the price of success, and those who know the price, but are not willing to pay it.


11. The Law of the Scoreboard
The team can make adjustments when it knows where it stands.

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 02 2

The team can make adjustments when it knows where it stands. The scoreboard is essential to evaluating performance at any given time, and is vital to decision-making.

1. The scoreboard is essential to understanding.
2. The scoreboard is essential to evaluating.
3. The scoreboard is essential to decision making.
4. The scoreboard is essential to adjusting.
5. The scoreboard is essential to winning.


12. The Law of the Bench
Great teams have great depth.

Maxwell-The-17-indisputable-laws-of-teamwork 03 2

Any team that wants to excel must have good substitutes as well as starters. The key to making the most of the law of the bench is to continually improve the team.

Starters are frontline people who directly add value to the organization and directly influence its course.

The bench is made up of the people who indirectly add value to the organization and who support the starters.

Building Tomorrow's Team

1. Recruitment. Who is joining the team?
2. Training. Are you developing the team?
3. Losses. Who is leaving the team?


13. The Law of Identity
Shared values define the team.

The type of values you choose for the team will attract the type of members you need. Values give the team a unique identity to its members, potential recruits, clients, and the public. Values must be constantly stated and restated, practiced, and institutionalized.

Work through the following process with your team:

Articulate the values. Put them down on paper.
Compare values with practices.
Teach the values.
Practice the values.
Institutionalize the values.
Publicly praise the values. (Reward those who epitomize the values)


14. The Law of Communication
Interaction fuels action

Creating positive change in an organization requires communication. 

Effective teams have teammates who are constantly talking, and listening to each other. From leader to teammates, teammates to leader, and among teammates, there should be consistency, clarity and courtesy. People should be able to disagree openly but with respect. Between the team and the public, Be receptive, responsive, and realistic.


15. The Law of the Edge
The difference between two equally talented teams is leadership.

A good leader can guide a team to success, provided values, work ethic and vision are in place.

Leaders transfer ownership for work to those who execute the work
Leaders create an environment where each team member wants to be responsible
Leaders coach the development of personal capabilities
Leaders learn quickly and encourage others to learn rapidly

The Myth of the Head Table
On a team, one person is always in charge in every situation. Understand that in particular situations, maybe another person would be best suited for leading the team.

The Myth of the Round Table
This is the belief that everyone is equal, which is absolutely not true. The person with greater skill, experience, and productivity in a given area is more important to the team in that area.

Take personal responsibility for your leadership development and growth.
Once you add value to yourself, you can add value to the team.


16. The Law of High Morale
When you're winning, nothing hurts.

When a team has high morale, it can deal with whatever circumstances are thrown at it and it creates its own circumstances.

The 4 Stages of Morale:

1. Poor morale - the leader must do everything

2. Low morale - the leader must do productive things

3. Moderate morale - the leader must do difficult things

4. High morale - the leader must do little things


17. The Law of Dividends
Investing in the team compounds over time

The time, money, and effort required to develop team members won't change the team overnight, but developing them always pays off.

How to invest in your team:

1. Make the decision to build a team, start investing in the team.
Deciding that people on the team are worth developing is the first step.

2. Gather the best team possible.
This elevates the potential of the team.

3. Pay the price to develop the team.
This ensures growth.

4. Do things together as a team.
This provides community.

5. Empower team members with responsibility and authority.
This raises leaders for the team.

6. Give credit for success to the team.
This lifts morale.

7. Watch to see that the investment in the team is paying off.
This brings accountability to the team.

8. Stop your investment in players who do not grow.
This cuts greater losses for the team.

9. Create new opportunities for the team.
This allows the team to stretch.

10. Give the team the best possible chance to succeed.
This guarantees the team a high return.

Posted: Tuesday 1 October 2013

Engaging Training and Effective Development 
Empowering Talent, Potential and Performance

EXCEL team building and development programmes

Team Building & Development

High impact team building and development that empowers teams to work better together.

LEAD Leadership training and training development programmes

Leading People & Teams 

In house training and development aligned to organisation goals and development needs of your leaders

SUCCEED professional training and development courses

Professional Excellence

Developing the insight, knowledge and skills to strengthen personal effectiveness, productivity and performance

EXCEED Customer Service Excellence Training Programmes

Frontline Service Excellence

Developing the customer focused attitudes, skills and behaviours required to deliver exceptional and memorable service.

Excellerate Instructional Design Service

Instructional Design Service

Expert instructional design of courseware for instructor led training delivered by YOUR trainers

Contact Us

0800EXCELNZ 392 356

New Zealand | Aotearoa

© Copyright Excellerate Performance - Site map Phone: 0800EXCELNZ 392 356