Few of us are natural-born leaders, according to John C. Maxwell, the author of Developing the Leader Within You. Fortunately though Maxwell teaches us that the traits that are the raw material of leadership can be acquired. As Maxwell explains “You supply desire and I will show you how to be a leader”. So I immersed myself in this book on developing the leader within me. You can grab the book from Amazon.
“People don’t want to be managed, they want to be lead.” ~ John C. Maxwell
I have often found this point fascinating even before hearing it from Maxwell. A leader is someone who people will look up to because they aspire or see quality in that individual which they would want to see in them self. These people “want to be lead”. The leader must be good at managing them self before they are ready to start managing and leading others.
Maxwell speaks of Bruce Larson whom describes a leader as the one to take a place at the front and be able to handle the turbulence while the rest (those that are lead) are honking affirmations.
This draws similarity to how a flock of birds with a pack leader at the front breaking the air while the rest of the birds follow in sync. Nature it seems has engraved a form of leadership into all species on this planet. We just need to develop a desire to grow into those shoes.
He who thinketh he leadeth and has no one following him is only taking a walk. ~ John C. Maxwell
Leadership is defined as “ability to get followers”. If you work backwards from this you can figure out how to lead. It’s not a position (status / title), but to get followers. Status leaders exhibit frustration as they try to get followers.
This shadows the fact that leadership and the ability to influence others is vital to have successful relationships, a successful job or business and your overall satisfaction with life. The question you need to ask yourself is “What kind of an influencer will you be”.
The very essence of all power to influence is getting the other person to participate. ~ Harry A. Overstreet
The Lego blocks
Here are a few pieces of knowledge you might want to consider when building your influence and ultimately leadership:
- Leadership is built like a set of lego blocks, from the bottom up.
- Leadership begins with the heart not head.
- You cannot lead people without loving them.
- We want people to be results orientated.
- Integrity keeps people. Charismatic personality draws people.
- You gotta love em before you lead em.
- Problems never stop but people can stop problems.
- Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it!
- A leader is great due to the way they empower others.
5 levels of leadership
The following are John Maxwell’s five stages of influence that individuals move through when building their leadership quality. Advancement to the next level can only happen once an individual has excelled in the present level.
1. Position – you start with a title and a level of authority it gives you.
2. Permission – people begin to follow you because they see something within you. This is the true beginning of influence with your followers.
3. Production – people inspire to become like you and thus try to produce at a higher level based on what they see you doing for the organization.
4. People Development – you have followers because of value you brought into their life.
5. Personhood – people follow you based on who you are and what you represent or stand for. This is the pinnacle of leadership here and a small amount of leaders reach this point.
- Great leaders-the truly successful ones who are in the top 1 percent-all have one thing in common. They know that acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task.
- Create an excellent environment & believe in their team.
- Know human needs. Being able to separate a behavior from intention is key in understanding people.
- Control big 3:
- personnel, and
- Avoid 7 deadly sins:
- try to be liked not respected,
- not asking team for advise and help,
- taunting personal talent,
- not keeping criticism constructive,
- not developing a sense of responsibility in team members,
- not treating everyone same way and failing to keep everyone well informed.
Maxwell reminds us that to always make yourself available to your people.
What motivates people:
- Significant contribution by allowing people to purse a cause that will have lasting impact.
- Goal participation by giving ownership to your people.
- Positive dissatisfaction by inspiriting positive effective change.
What demotivates people:
- Public criticism.
- Manipulations tearing down the walls in a relationship.
- Insensitivity by not listening to your people.
- Discouraging personal growth by feeling threatened by the success of others.
Developing the Leader within you
Becoming a great leader only happens once you set your goal and fuel it with a strong desire. There are great qualities of a leader one can always mirror from leadership stories, mentors, people we aspire et al and practice those qualities which ultimately can become your new habits.
I highly encourage you to read leadership stories of other great leaders like my all time favorite Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way. If you want a place to start then John C. Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You is ideal to understanding what Leadership is all about. Enjoy your journey and please share your experiences in the comment section below.