I’ll be honest with you. I don’t usually like this kind of book. Everything within me recoils at ‘The 12 Indistinguishable Keys to Success’, ‘The 32 Incomprehensible Laws of Leadership’, or ‘The 7 Insufferable Characteristics of a Winner’.
But we have a free library at Jubilee where people drop a book and take a book and I check the shelves once a week to make sure no Watchtower publication sneaks in unnoticed. And my son-in-law, a mild-mannered, gifted administrator, gave me a few books for the library including this one. Easy to read, with short chapters largely dealing with the character of a leader, I thought I would read it before adding it to the collection.
And now I’m recommending it! It has some features which could put you off. So better to consider those up front. This is a ‘90s book written for the US market. So it is very ‘American’ in that kind of celebratory way that can grate on some readers. This comes through primarily in the illustrations of against-all-the-odds achievers in sport, business, war, although there are non-US characters in there too. But is there really anything wrong with Maxwell drawing primarily from his own context? A second drawback for some Pastors might be that Maxwell doesn’t open a passage of Scripture and expound it (we might be grateful for that), nor does it include many specific church-related illustrations. But, seriously, we read lots of those books. You may already be a good preacher, or counsellor; this book is to help you become a better leader.
I was challenged and helped by both the content and structure of the book. Maxwell’s insistence that you actually examine yourself and your leadership style as you progress through the material is excellent. Each chapter takes a leadership quality, illustrates how that quality has helped a leader move forward, gives three or four reasons why this quality is indispensable for you and those you lead, and then gives several practical applications to your own life so you can assess where you are and make improvements. It’s not just theory; it’s practical. It’s the good stuff that we need.
Some of the leadership qualities are: Character, Charisma, Communication, Competence, Discernment, Generosity, Initiative, Listening, Problem Solving, Relationships, Self-Discipline, Serving, Teachability.
OK. Some quotes to whet your appetite (excuse the generic masculine pronouns)
Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it.
Unaddressed cracks in character only get deeper and more destructive with time.
Quote from Charles Schwab: ‘I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greateer effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.’
When it comes to charisma, the bottom line is othermindedness.
Good leaders, the kind that people want to follow, do more than conduct business when they interact with followers. They take the time to get a feel for who each one is as a person…If you’re in the habit of listening only to the facts and not the person who expresses them, change your focus – and really listen.
More than 50 percent of all CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had C or C- averages in college…And more than 50 percent of all millionaire entrepreneurs never finished college.
The truth is that you can never lead something you don’t care passionately about.
Insecure leaders are dangerous – to themselves, their followers, and the organizations they lead – because a leadership position amplifies personal flaws.
An insecure leader [is] someone who cannot genuinely celebrate his people’s victories.
Learn to walk slowly through the crowd…The next time you attend a function with a number of clients, colleagues, or employees, make it your goal to connect with others by circulating among them and talking to people. Focus on each person you meet. Learn his name if you don’t know it already. Make your agenda getting to know each person’s needs, wants, and desires. Then later when you go home, make a note to yourself to do something beneficial for half a dozen of those people.
If what you did yesterday still looks big to you, you haven’t done much today.
Quote from Ray Kroc: ‘As long as you’re green, you’re growing. As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot.’
The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John Maxwell, Nelson Business
©2019 Lex Loizides