Reflections on John C Maxwell’s, 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork -Part 4

In this final blog, on my reflections on the 17 Indisputable laws of teamwork, I cover the laws of the price tag, the scoreboard, the bench, identity, communication, edge, the morale, and the dividends. As I did in the other blogs, 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 the Price Tag

Success and failure have a price. The success or failure come at a price that is paid by everyone in the team including the team leaders. Success hardly comes to a team if only a few people are paying the price for success, while the rest are not doing anything, which is basically paying the price of failure. One place where this is very clear is on a football team. Even though you have the best players in the world, but if they are not working together for the success of the team failure is guaranteed. Similarly, in a team, where you have competent people but they are not willing to pay the price, the team will fail.

Maxwell writes that the price for teamwork is a sacrifice, time commitment, and personal development. There can be no success without sacrifice. What happens when your personal goals conflict with greater goals of your team. John C. Maxwell writes that you have three choices: a) put down the goal (because the team is more important); b) put off the goal (because it’s not the right time). C) Part with the team (because it’s better for everyone).

The law of the Scoreboard

“Change is the only constant in life”-Heraclitus

Every team needs to find a way to evaluate where it stands, that is basically the law of the scoreboard. It is very important to know where you want to be as a team because this provides direction. At the same time, it also important to constantly check where you stand presently. Checking the scoreboard helps you understand fully the situation of the team. It helps you do a proper situation analysis.  It helps the teams and team members to identify places of growth. A scoreboard helps in decision making, adjusting and winning.

The law of the scoreboard applied in a team means that the team is constantly evaluating all aspects of the team. It is advisable that systems that promote evaluation have to be put in place in any team to check on progress and make the necessary changes. The information (positive and negative) gathered through the systems should not be discarded, but rather it has to be used in decision-making at both organization and individual level. If the system has captured that as an individual you have lack skills and knowledge, then, the individual needs to start working on acquiring the skills and knowledge.  If the evaluation has found that the system in place is not working according to the context, then a system change needs to be made. If the system captures that you need to part ways with some donors, partners and team members, the right decision needs to be made.

The law of the Bench

Every team will have three types of people, starters, bench players (I prefer support team), and inner circle. Starters are those who directly add value to the organization or indirectly influence its course. Starters are usually in the spotlight and as a result, they get the most credit. Bench players are individuals who indirectly add value to the organization or support the starters. Bench players or support players are liable to be neglected or overlooked, mostly by the starters.  Inner-circle members are the core group within the starters. As we let our egos take over and get into silly debates, we need to remember that every member of the team adds value. The Bible analogy of the body explains this concept better, that every member of the team is important.

The Law of Identity

The Law of identity focuses on values. Google defines values as principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life. How important are values for a team? Values help a team hold together during hard times. Values provide a stable foundation for a team. Values help to set standards for a team. Values provide a moral compass that helps with decision making. Values attract people with like values to the team. Most importantly, values define the team and give it a unique identity. What you believe is what defines you.

The law of Communications

Communication is one of the most obvious key ingredients of almost any relationship in our lives both physical and spiritual. It is something that most of us have been doing a good part of our life, but we still struggle with it. Communication for me involves a two-way process that takes the form of verbal and non-verbal to share an understanding and meaning. Communication is not necessarily what message you send, but the feedback that you get from the message that you send. This is what defines communication to me. Listening is one thing that people need to work on when it comes to communication. The success of your team and the ability of your team members to work together depends on good communication.

The law of the Edge

‘if you want to win and keep winning for a long time, train people on the team to become better leaders’- (Maxwell, 2001, p. 219). The law of the edge is about leadership. As John Maxwell says ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership.’ Leadership needs to be understood as an influence and not a position. Leaders make both a positive or negative influence. Maxwell argues that they are two myths about leadership that need to be addressed. The myth of the head table and the roundtable. The myth of the head table is the notion that one person is always in charge in every situation. The truth is that the challenge of the moment often determines the leader for that challenge because every person on the team has strengths that come into play. The myth of the roundtable is the belief that everyone on the team is equal, all opinions count the same, and a team can function without leadership. The truth is that everyone is important, but everyone isn’t equal. The person with greater experience, skills and productivity in given area is more important to the team in that area.

The Law of High Morale

‘When you do good, you feel good when you feel good, you do good (Maxwell, 2001, p. 241)’ This summarises the law of high morale. A team with high morale energy wins. When an entire team is positive and all the players feel good about themselves, everything seems good. This is why everybody wants to be associated with such a team as a fan or member. When a team possess high morale, the performance of its people goes to a whole new level. The team focuses on its potential, not its problems. Team members become more committed. Players in a high morale team keep going and going. No mountain seems too high. No problem seems too difficult. No race seems too long. Problems in a high morale team just seem to disappear-no matter how big they are. I am yet to hear of a team with negative energy, that won anything. Interesting how we have come to believe that by harbouring negativity in our life, we shall achieve our goals.

The law of dividends

The law of dividends looks at the development of the team. You need to understand that team development is the responsibility of everyone on the team. This applies to both personal development and team development. We all contribute something to the team to ensure that we develop together. Investment in teams is not cheap, it costs the three very important things in life, your time, your money, and your energy. Developing people pays off in every way. Despite your insecurities and pride, you are still challenged to develop people in your team to be better than you. Are you giving a good return for what your teammates are investing in you?


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