The law of explosive growth

Published 7:27 pm Thursday, February 1, 2018

By Elaine Lankford

Anyone who starts a business naturally wants to see it grow. We put countless hours and intense effort into seeing our businesses get off the ground, so when we experience even small growth, we truly feel like celebrating. But why do some businesses explode with growth while others barely maintain the current numbers or, worse yet, fold? The answer could lie within the leader’s math.

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell introduces us to the Law of Explosive Growth. It states: “To add growth, lead followers — to multiply, lead leaders.” Let’s unpack that just a little.


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To be a leader, one must have followers. Yet, have you ever considered who makes up that group of followers you are leading? Followers who are content on being led will yield a modest return to the company, but only add value to the company one person at a time. However, followers who are leaders themselves, but are willing to follow your lead, multiples the value added to the company creating the opportunity for explosive growth.

Now that we understand the concept a little better, let’s break down the math behind this type of growth. When a follower comes to the table, he or she only brings his or herself. But when a leader comes to the table, the leader brings his or herself as well as his or her followers. Therefore, instead of getting just one person, multiple people are added to the equation.

Abraham Maslow once said: “You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.”

How then do we become leaders who develops leaders, multiplying our growth versus just adding to it? John states: “Becoming a leader who develops leaders requires an entirely different focus and attitude from simply attracting and leading followers. It takes a different mindset.”

Leaders who attract other leaders are different than leaders who only attract followers. Leaders who develop leaders desire to be succeeded. In other words, the greatest compliment this type of leader can receive is to see their work continue on through others.

Here are some other distinguishing factors. Leaders who pour into leaders focus intensely on the top 20 percent of their following. They will often put a strong emphasis on building a person’s strengths and not dwelling on their weaknesses. They don’t subscribe to the mindset of treating everyone the same but instead develop a results-based method of providing greater opportunities to those who rise to the top. In addition, they recognize the long-term benefits of making a time investment into developing other leaders as well as the impact other leaders could have on people outside of their immediate reach.

Make no mistake, however, developing leaders is hard work. John gives us three challenges that we must be prepared for when attempting to lead leaders:

  • Leaders are hard to find. Unlike followers, leaders do not run in groups. They are the lone wolves that will need to be sought out.
  • Leaders are hard to gather. Once we have identified the leaders we would like to engage, getting them to commit to further development under our guidance can be equally challenging.
  • Leaders are hard to keep. Lastly, to maintain a consistent, mentoring relationship with these leaders, we have to stay ahead of the person we are attempting to lead. This can be twice as difficult when your target is another leader.

Why take on the challenge of leading leaders? It’s a good question. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your overall desire to grow your company’s potential by a little or a lot.

Elaine is a John Maxwell certified coach, teacher, trainer, and speaker. She is the founder of Transforming Love Ministries, LLC and a board member of the Christian Business Coalition of Hampton Roads. Replies can be sent to