I’m a big John Maxwell fan and have read most of his books. His most recent Leadership Gold is by far one of his best. It is a list of the 26 most important leadership lessons he has learned over a span of 30+ years of leading.
Some of my favorites were:
If it’s lonely at the top, you’re not doing something right. Many leaders think that it is impossible to be a good leader and know people or be close to your team/followers. One of greatest joys since starting Revolution is how close I am to the other leaders and team that I serve with and lead. It is a huge risk, it is hard work, but it is worth it instead of being distant from your team.
Never work a day in your life. This one really spoke to me because it is something that I am living right now. The idea of “find what you love do, do it well enough so that people will pay you to do it.” That is what I’m doing right now.
The best leaders are listeners. I need to improve on this one. I am the type of person that when I am talking to someone I am thinking about what I am going to say to them instead of listening, really listening to them.
To see how the leaders is doing look at the people. The best way to see how an organization, team or leader is doing, look at the people who are following that person. Are they better off? Is the organization farther than they were before? Leaders make things better or worse, which one do you make your team/organization/church?
Don’t manage your time – manage your life. According to Maxwell, “Nothing separates successful people from unsuccessful people more than how they use their time.” We all have the same amount of time, we can’t get more in a day. The task is not to learn how to manage time, but to manage and maximize your life. The story in this chapter of the 1000 marbles is worth the price of the book, what a great example.
Keep learning to keep leading. Growth does not just happen, personally or corporately. To grow as a leader, you must have a plan. To take the next step as a leader and become all that you are meant to become, you need to have a plan. All leaders who have made any impact in history or done anything noteworthy were constant learners, they never “arrived” but they always had a plan to get there. Maxwell points out, “What is the one thing – more than any other – that will determine the growth of an organization? The growth of the people in the organization. And what determines the people’s growth? The growth of the leader! As long as people are following you, they will be able to go only as far as you go. If you’re not growing, they won’t be growing – either that or they will leave and go somewhere else where they can grow.”
The secret to a good meeting is the meeting before the meeting. This has been a learning curve for me. The idea of meeting with the most influential people before THE meeting to get on the same page and work through the desired outcome of the meeting. People do not like being surprised and they like to be a part of deciding the outcome of something. Too many leaders (myself included) forget that when we present an idea, we’ve been thinking about it for weeks or months and that the people we are presenting it to are hearing it for the first time. Maxwell says, “Most people are down on what they’re not up on.”
This idea also helps to remind us of what the point of a meeting is. Maxwell says, “Most people have the wrong idea about the purpose of a meeting. I think a lot of us think of them as time savers. You pull a bunch of people into a room so that you can deliver a message once. That’s the wrong way to think about a meeting. Meetings are for getting things done! To do that, you must often have a meeting before the meeting to prepare for the meeting.”
Be a connector not just a climber. I think leaders naturally see themselves “climbers.” People who get things done, are on a mission, going somewhere.
Those who start the journey with you seldom finish with you. This has been one of the most painful things for me to learn as a leader. When you lose a teammate, for any reason, it hurts. The idea that some of the people who will do the hardest work with me, go through painful experiences with me, will not make it all the way is hard to wrap my hands around, but it is true. Even now, I can make a list of people who have led with me, but are no longer with me and it hurts. Sometimes it was the right thing and for the right reasons, sometimes it wasn’t. Either way it hurt. As a leader, you must learn how to handle this because this is one of the things that will make or break your leadership.
Few leaders are successful unless a lot of people want them to be. What a reminder. I can make a list of people who I am no longer working with who put me in the position I am in today simply because they invested in me, gave me opportunities, and helped me along the way. No one gets anywhere worthwile on their own.
John Maxwell is the king of one liners, so in honor that, here are a few from the book:
- We attract who we are, not who we want.
- No matter if you are just starting out or if you are at the peak of your career; the more you work in your strength zone, the more successful you will be.
- Organizations exist to make people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.
- Leaders inevitably make things better or worse for the people who follow them. Wherever you have a good leader, the team gets better, the organization gets better; the department or division gets better. And wherever you have a bad leader, everyone that leader impacts has a tougher time. Leadership makes every endeavor either better or worse.
- The one thing all good organizations have in common is good leadership.
- The loyalty of followers comes as a reward to the leader who earns it, not the one who years for it.
- I can’t lead people if I need people.
- Leaders have to be willing to do things others are unwilling to do.
- People don’t pay for average.
- Successful people make right decisions early and manage those decisions daily.
- As a leader, to some degree, you choose who you lose.
If you are looking for a leadership book to read, this is one definitely worth picking up.