This review will attempt to expound on The 8 Laws of Leadership written by Dr. Elmer Towns. Towns presents this book as an effort to equip leaders and rising leaders with essential tools needed to be effective. He holds fast to the premise of Dr. Lee Robertson that “Everything rises and falls on leadership. ” Elmer Towns is the co-founder of Liberty University where he serves as Vice-President and Dean of the School of Religion. He also held the office of president at the Winnipeg Bible and Theology Institute in Winnipeg, Canada for several years.
Under Towns’ administration, the college received its accreditation, paid off all debt, doubled its enrollment and laid a solid foundation for a theological seminary. He has authored and co-authored over 100 books which are listed in the Library of Congress, 7 listed in the Christian Booksellers Best Selling List; several becoming accepted as college textbooks, “The 8 Laws of Leadership” being one of them. He has also authored over twenty resource packets for leadership education.
Amongst other things he has served tirelessly as a dedicated Sunday school teacher and has gained invaluable leadership experience in academia, administration and areas of education. He continuously holds seminars and lectures, helping other leaders by sharing his experiences and wisdom. In this book, Towns illustrates how anyone can be a leader. It is not the position that makes the leader but their ability to influence and relate to other people. He determines to effectively discuss “true leadership”, the type of leadership found in the New Testament as exemplified by Jesus and his disciples.
The basis of the book is to be used as a measuring tool for existing and emerging leaders alike to measure their leadership capabilities. He does so by providing eight laws of leadership along with the prescription of how to effectively use them. THE 8 LAWS Law one: The Law of Dreams – A leader must direct followers to a desirable objective. Towns suggest that when people buy into your dreams, they buy into your leadership. He uses several references to illustrate this law, one being the vision of a better, whole, redeemed and delivered people by Jesus.
This vision affected how Jesus responded to the people and his effectiveness in motivating his disciples to continue his cause. He also used Martin Luther King, Jr. as an example. He had a dream of a people that could be united in spite of the color of their skin. His dream inspired many to take a stand in spite of the many dangers that lied before them. A key to the Law of dreams is that you must first have the ability to conceive “dream or envision” what you desire to happen before it actually happens.
Dreams must not remain dreams; therefore, there also has to be some sort of implementation plan in effect. Within this chapter the author supplies the reader with several practical tools and more laws to use in grooming their leadership styles. Law Two: The Law of Rewards – The leader must reward those that follow him. Towns states “Leaders must learn why people do what they do so they can reward them. On the contrary, leaders must not reward the wrong activities. Rewarding is a type of affirmation that is immeasurable and sure to bring about very influential results from those who follow.
Law Three: The Law of Credibility – This law states a leader must have a strategy that is accepted and believed by followers in order to accomplish his or her goals. Trust is a key component of this law. However, seemingly the leader is the overall most important factor in this chapter. The author quotes John C. Maxwell in saying, “The leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. The leader is basically the picture of what the followers will usually look like. If the leader displays a positive and winning attitude, so will those who follow.
Law Four: The Law of Communication – Leaders must have the ability to effectively communicate their dreams, goals and plans in order to reach the desired objective. This chapter discusses the importance of communication. To be effective in this area the leader must be close enough to the followers to get information to and from them. To be effective in communicating, leaders must know their followers which helps them to speak or interact with them in a manner that would be understood. Law Five: The Law of Accountability – People do not do what you expect, but what you inspect.
While it is important for leaders to reward their followers it is just as important to scrutinize or constructively criticize them. This ensures that the followers understand that mediocrity or complacency will not be rewarded. This also pushes them to maximize their potential. When a leader shows exactly what is expected of those who follow, a sense of accountability is set in place. This law is one that is essential for both the leader and follower in that both need levels of accountability as it pertains to their jobs, responsibilities and position.
Law Six: The Law of Motivation – People follow you when you give them a reason to work. This in my opinion is a well-known fact. Towns states that “Great leaders motivate their followers to rise above mediocrity, to overcome insurmountable obstacles, to make the most of limited resources, and to come out of difficult circumstances in order to achieve their dream. ” Law Seven: The Law of Problem-Solving – Good leaders have the ability to solve the problems that hinder people from reaching their goals; the more barriers that frustrate your followers, the less likely they are to reach the goal.
Leaders must understand that problems are just a part of life, they must acquire the ability to detect when and where a problem may arise and also gain confidence in their ability to come up with a solution. This will as a result help the leader to gain a “victory” mindset. They need to have a mindset of an over-comer. Law Eight: The Law of Decision-Making – Leaders must have the ability to make great decisions. This law out of the eight is said to be the most difficult. Towns implies that a leader is very often measured by his or her skill at decision making.
He also provides many of the pitfalls and hindrances leaders face when needing to make decisions. It is important as a leader to be willing to take risk and make the difficult decisions. EVALUATION Elmer Towns accredits much of his success and writing to John Maxwell, well-know leadership guru, which is interesting because Maxwell also published a book about laws of leadership six years later in 1998. Towns does an excellent job explaining the usefulness of each law describe above; persuasively providing his take on the necessary skills and values of a leader.
His book is a very easy read which was expressed in a manner that anyone could understand. I will suggest the strengths and weaknesses of this book are one in the same. Elmer Towns provides several more laws within each chapter to compliment the major law. This tactic offers further knowledge or information on the subject discussed, offering the reader more than they bargained for. However, this also can cause the reader to lose sight of the major theme of the chapter when the sub-laws could have actually stood on their own, for example, The Law of Blessability.
The “8 Laws of Leadership” seem to be in my opinion theologically sound. Majority of the Laws were backed with Scripture reference throughout each chapter. Though scriptures were often cited, this writing would be beneficial in the marketplace as well. Proving to be a very interesting book, “The 8 Laws of Leadership”, actually surpassed my expectations. However, the cover does no justice for the valuable insights within. The subtitle implies that the book is only for Christian reading, however, it actually explores leadership in every facet.
It may have served well to simply use “Making Extraordinary Leaders out of Ordinary People”, which actually seems to suit the picture of the cover much better. My understanding of leadership is very much in agreement with the views of Elmer Towns; thus the book did not challenge my views. However, it did challenge my approach to leadership. I agree that leadership is a very important role and the lives of many are in the hands of leaders. It is the responsibility of any leader to be the best at leading in whatever capacity that may be.
There is always room for growth for every Leader; therefore, the information provided by Dr. Towns was very much welcomed. I agree with Elmer Towns as he suggests in his preface that there are thousands of leadership help books on the market in which one could read and that he does not have all the answers. However, Towns offers an abundance of wisdom and experiential ideals concerning Leadership principles to his readers and as stated in the book, leaders are readers!
For that reason, I would recommend this book to others and suggest that they really take hold of the principles for great leadership it provides. REFERENCES Towns, Elmer. Spiritual Breakthroughs. 2001. http://elmertowns. com/ (accessed October 2011). Town, Elmer. The 8 Laws of Leadership: Making Extraordinary Leadrs out of Ordinary Believers. Edited by Cindy G. Spear. Lynchburg, VA: Church Growth Institure, 1992. Towns, Sam. Elmer Towns: A Biographical and Chronological Presentation of His Writings. Dissertation, Pasedena: Fuller Theological Seminary, 1988.