The Law of the Picture

People Do What People See — John C. Maxwell
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Reflections on John C. Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”

As a first time manager of a video rental store at eighteen years old, I led fifteen employees.

I loved the free movie rentals, unlimited popcorn, and the status symbol of “movie master” by the local community. What I despised were the puffy purple shirts they made us wear as part of our uniform. So I never wore them. I would hang the shirt around my shoulders or tie it around my waist to give the appearance of a uniform, but would rarely wear the shirt. I soon realized that my employees would stop wearing their shirts as well.

When my district manager came in to check on the store, he saw my employees without their shirts and asked me why they were not in uniform. I told them I did not know and would make sure they stayed in uniform from now on. It was a challenge after that to get them to break the bad habit that I had started. Employees act the way their bosses allow. They learn from what they see. If they see poor practices, there is a chance they will take on those poor habits.

When you are in a leadership position, be it a boss, a parent, or an active member of your Church, people are watching what you do. Leaders are living pictures that must always direct themselves towards passion and purpose.

The law of the picture is about setting a good example, becoming a role model for best practices.

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