Book Review: Developing the Leader Within You 2.0

This book written by John C Maxwell and printed by Harper Collins Publishers, is a must read for budding leaders and those already traversing the journey of leadership. A sequel to “Developing the Leader Within You” that the author wrote in 1992, this book is straightforward and simple. So much simple that some of the sentences I have penned down in this review have been taken verbatim from the book.

The first 2 chapters of this 227 page book provide insights that we all need to incorporate in our life, whether or not we aspire to be a leader in a formal sense.

Developing leadership skills, the author says “will Add to your effectiveness, Subtract from your weakness, Divide your workload, and Multiply your impact”.

The Art of leadership is getting things done with and through other people – John Maxwell

Taking quotes from various leaders, the book weaves through 10 chapters on how to develop the leader within you. The author points to his website where additional resources on developing the leader within you are available for free.

I. Develop Influence

Leadership is the ability to obtain followers – James C Georges

He who thinks he leads but has no one following him is only taking a walk – John Maxwell

Develop influence by connecting with people, building relationships with them and earning their trust. Work with them to produce results. Once people begin to admire and appreciate you for what you have done for them, you are on your path to be a leader.

2. Establish Priorities

You cannot have it all. Set limited priorities by prioritizing urgent over important. Be proactive.

Disciplined used of time that everybody else wastes can give you an edge – Dan Kennedy

The author refers to the famous Pareto Principle also called the 80/20 principle. This principle states that the effort you put during 20% of your time will produce 80% of your results. He suggests to follow this principle in all that you do.

Being busy is not enough. Being busy doing the right thing is. Activity is not accomplishment. You need to have some downtime to think, to improve your self-awareness and to renew your energy.

3. Build Character

Character builds trust. Character is about making right choices. The core of character comes down to three main things – embracing good values, practicing self-leadership and valuing people.

Identify your values and decide what boundaries you won’t cross long before you may be tempted to cross them – John Maxwell

Be authentic by being open and forthright with people about your successes and failures. Develop humility by looking within you and realizing that there are weaknesses within that you need to work on. Be courageous.

Courage makes character possible. It empowers us to do whats right in the face of fear, fatigue or uncertainty – John Maxwell

Base your self-respect on you making the right choices rather than on counting your accomplishments and achievements.

4. Create Positive Change

Create positive change by moving beyond today’s success. Communicate clearly, simply, continually and daily while giving others ample time to accept your ideas. Head into action, expect problems and celebrate the individual and team successes, big and small.

To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often – Winston Churchill

But before you go on to bring positive change, make sure that you have been accepted as a leader by the people responsible for making the change happen.

5. Be a Problem Solver

Work on big and small problems alike. Do not attempt to solve problems solo. Utilize the knowledge and experience of others. Aim for more than one solution to a problem. Come up with a good solution which in turn becomes an opportunity for growth, both internal and external. Problem Solving will build your influence too.

Develop a bias for action. Don’t think “Can I ?”, think “How Can I? – John Maxwell

6. Develop a Positive Attitude

Empower others. Be a doer. Be decisive. Take initiative. Challenge status quo. Challenge assumptions. Exceed expectations. Be passionate. Empower others by doing the following –

  1. Never make excuses
  2. Create a can-do environment where people are expected to solve their problems
  3. Model a whatever-it-takes attitude to your team
  4. Provide training that enables team members to succeed
  5. Challenge people to take responsibility for their performance
  6. Make everyone feel valued and important as part of the team
  7. Give solid feedback after team members try to tackle a challenge
  8. Celebrate with team members who are succeeding
  9. Give people increasing challenges to test their growth and give them wins

Be dispassionate about success and failure.

I give myself just 24 hours to celebrate a success or cry over a failure. After that I move on. – John Maxwell

7. Serve People

Help other people succeed. Develop those qualities within you that others need for their success. This way you can guide them. Develop a servant’s heart where you want others to succeed at least as much as you want to.

8. Have a Vision

A vision provides a road map for people to move forward. Develop vision by striving to see more and before others do.

The author classifies people into 4 types when it comes to developing a vision

  1. People who never see it – they are wanderers
  2. People who see it but never pursue it on their own – they are followers
  3. People who see it and pursue it – they are achievers
  4. People who see it, pursue it, and help others see and pursue it – they are leaders

9. Develop Self-Discipline

Learn to lead yourself before you can lead others.

Self-discipline moves you from good intentions to good actions – John Maxwell

To develop self-discipline, avoid temptation and delay gratification. Self-discipline makes us consistent. Consistency establishes your reputation, is a pre-requisite to excellence, provides security to others and reinforces your vision and values.

10. Commit to your Personal Growth

A leader is always growing. Make your personal growth a priority. Personal Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who don’t.

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