Reflections on John C Maxwell’s, 17 Indisputable Laws of Team work -Part 2

In the first blog, I covered three laws of team work as discussed by John C. Maxwell in his book the 17 Indisputable laws of teamwork. I discussed the laws of significance, big picture and the niche. In this blog, I discuss the laws of mount Everest, the chain and the catalyst. As I did in the first blog, I will be using examples from my experiences to reflect on the laws. Again, if you need a deeper understanding, I will encourage to get a copy and read for yourself.

The law of Mount Everest

In 2016, Tendai and I had dreams to support the youth in the education system in Malawi. Tendai had a dream to create girls clubs to support the girls with career guidance and counselling and provision of school fees and other scholastic materials. This was because of her experience working with Plan International and her passion for girls. I had a dream to provide scholarships and career guidance and counselling in schools for both girls and boys. This was because of my experience serving with Youth to Youth Empowerment and my passion for quality education. After sharing our dreams, we felt that the dreams were very similar, therefore there was no point in running two initiatives. Both of us would like to create a world where the youth make informed choices and have the necessary skills to thrive. This is our mount Everest. And Yes! It is very scary. Night of brainstorming led to the establishment of Maphunziro265 with Tendai and I as co-founders. This was after discarding a million of proposed names. As we kept discussing, it became very clear that Tendai and I, cannot achieve the dream of Maphunziro265 alone, we needed to get people on board. But before that, we needed to look at the areas of need that we had. From the needs, we were able to identify people who can join the team to serve. We approached people within our circles and shared our vision. Thank God the majority of the team said yes. We moved from two people to eight people in a few days. A few months later, it became very clear that the size of the team did not match up with the size of the dream of Maphunziro265. An invitation had to be issued to request for ambassadors to join the team from all the districts across Malawi.

The first team to join became team leaders and the people who joined later were put in various teams. We now had a team, but surprisingly, it was a few people from the team who participated in the activities (offline and online). This was because, we, as the leaders, lacked (we still do) leadership skills and team building skills. Also, this was because some of the people did not understand the vision of Maphunziro265, but they just liked to be part of Maphunziro265. The leadership of Maphunziro265 has had to change. Some of the leaders have had to step down. Some team members have had to be removed from Maphunziro265. This has not been easy but it is worth it.

As a co-founder and team leader, I have taken it upon myself to read leadership books and apply the principles learnt to ensure that the team thrives.   The rest of the leadership team is also taking various steps to learn how they can better lead the teams.

‘What kind of adjustments do you need to make to create your dream team, one that can meet the challenges ahead? Do you need to spend more time developing your people? Do you need to add key team members? Or should you make changes to the leadership? (Maxwell, 2001, p. 57)’

The law of the Chain

I have been a weak link, and I have also worked with weak links in teams. ‘With weak links you have two choices: you need to train them or trade them (Maxwell, 2001, p. 63).’

When I was joining Zodiak Broadcasting Station(ZBS) in 2011, I was a weak link to the projects and special events department (now directorate). Of the team members present in the directorate, I was the least experienced, and did not have the skills that my team required to deliver on its objectives. Rather than kick me out of the team, the team leader, Joab Frank Chakhaza, and the team members, Sheila Chimphamba, Twesa Takula, and Chancy Muloza Banda, worked with me to ensure that I got some of the skills and was able to deliver according to the goals of the team and the organization. The process was not easy, my ego was bruised in the process, but eventually I managed to catchup and was able to deliver. I moved from a person who needed constant supervision, to a person who worked independently and was also able to supervise other people. By the time I was leaving ZBS, I had become a valuable member of not just the projects team, but the Zodiak family in general.

As the then team leader of both Youth to Youth Empowerment, and currently, Maphunziro265 team leader, I have worked with weak links too. Some of the weak links are now excellent performers who dedicate themselves to personal development to match with the requirements and the goals of the team. At the same time, I have had to let go of team members who were affecting the entire team and they seemed not to be interested to improve. It hurts that some of the people that I had to let go were very close friends of mine. However, I had to focus on the goal of the initiatives, the team and not my personal feelings towards the friends. As John C. Maxwell writes, ‘No matter what kind of situation you face, remember that your responsibilities to people come in the following order: to the organization, to the team, and then to the individual. Your own interests-and comfort-come last (Maxwell, 2001, p. 72). ‘

I know that it becomes hard to think of letting go of people when they are working on voluntary basis. Just because people are not being paid, you believe that it is okay to have weak links to be part of your team. My question is: by keeping weak links are you drawing closer to achieving your goals or away from the goal? I believe the answer to that question should be able to guide you on what actions you have to take.

How do you identify weak links in teams? Maxwell provides the following guidelines:

They can’t keep pace 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 (Maxwell, 2001, p. 62).

The Law of the Catalyst

‘Winning teams have players who make things happen’- (Maxwell, 2001, p. 85).

When I was reading about the law of the catalyst, several examples came to mind of people who fall in the category of catalyst. Catalysts are people in a team who get things done and the rest of the people follow (Maxwell, 2001).  These are people that have the gift to close deals. Catalyst have the gift to energize the team and inspire it to keep going.  Catalysts should be present in each and every team. Catalyst push teams to their potential. Where you don’t have a catalyst, it is recommended that you find ways to get catalysts to be part of your team. How do you know that you have catalysts on your team? Catalysts are intuitive, communicative, passionate, talented, creative, initiating, responsible, generous, and influential. I am sure that as you are reading this blog, several people have come to mind who fall in the category of catalysts in your teams. As a team leader, it is your responsibility to nurture the potential in catalysts and ensure that they reach their maximum potential. A great catalyst on the team is a sure way to win.


Maxwell, J. C. (2001). The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork. Georgia: Thomas Nelson.