The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs
John C Maxwell
Can leadership skills be learned by anyone?
Maxwell, one of the world’s most renowned leadership gurus, claims that you don’t have to be an expert to understand what he is teaching, and you don’t have to be a CEO to apply it. He believes nearly anyone can be a leader, as long as we are prepared to give a lot.
If you haven’t already read Maxwell’s Leadership Gold, the Leadership Handbook provides plenty of useful lessons from his early life as a pastor, and as an author and trainer to top businesses and church leaders. The mistakes he made have made him wiser. Rather than trying and trying again, we should be trying, stopping, thinking, changing and then trying again, if we don’t want to repeat those mistakes.
“If it’s lonely at the top, you’re not doing something right” John Maxwell
Maxwell wants every leader to recognise that credibility begins with personal success, but should end with helping others achieve success. That is why he includes a mentoring tip at the end of every chapter for leaders who are guiding others, as well as practical exercises for you to apply to yourself.
Nuggets of wisdom include:
- Take the time – and the risk – to get close to people and let them get close to you. If you are alone at the top, that means nobody is following you and no one will help you
- If on your own you can fulfil the vision you have for your life and work, then you’re aiming too low. No accomplishment of any real value has ever been achieved by a person working alone
- Only a leader who has followed well knows how to lead others well. Good leadership requires an understanding of the world followers live in
- Be willing to seek and follow advice. See yourself clearly, identify where you need to grow and be accountable
- Leadership develops daily – not in a day. Defining moments in your life make you the person you are and how others see you. It is possible to prepare how you will respond to those moments, by making choices about things like your values, or relationships, so that when the time comes you only need to make decisions based on those values
- What we need to hear most is usually what we want to hear least. If you receive constructive criticism, try to not be defensive and look for the grain of truth to make the necessary changes
- If you can find what you love do, and do it well enough so that people will pay you to do it, you will never have to work a day in your life. Passion for what you do means that you will attempt things and accomplish things you would never have believed you could
- The best leaders are listeners. To counter his own poor listening skills (which he only discovered when faced with criticism from a colleague he trusted) he put an ‘L’ in the corner of his notepad in meetings for several years so that he could remind himself to properly listen. He would put a double ‘LL’ to remind himself to look and listen
- Everything rises and falls on leadership. To see how the leaders are doing look at the people. Are the people in your team being developed, initiating change, managing conflict? Your legacy will be the people you have developed
- Don’t waste your time trying to turn ducks into eagles. As consultant Jim Rohn says, hire people who already have the motivation and drive to be eagles and develop them, don’t become frustrated, or make ducks and eagles frustrated, by trying to change people who don’t want to soar
- Keep your mind on the main thing. The 80/20 Pareto principle applies here – focus on the top 20 per cent of activities to be more productive. Ask yourself: What gives me the greatest return? What is most rewarding? What is required of me?
- Nothing separates successful and unsuccessful people more than how they manage their time. Every person’s day has the same amount of time – successful people will pack more into them than others. Rate and multiply tasks in terms of importance and urgency to judge when to schedule activities
- The secret to a good meeting is the meeting before the meeting. Meet with key people beforehand to check you are on the same page, develop trust and make sure you haven’t missed something
Good leaders inspire their followers to have confidence in them. Great leaders inspire their followers to have confidence in themselves. Maxwell wants his, and your, legacy to be raising up other leaders, to keep applying these lessons and keep learning. There is always another question you can ask.
** About the author John C. Maxwell is a New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than 24 million books in fifty languages. Maxwell was identified as the most popular leadership expert in the world by Inc. magazine in 2014. He is the founder of the John Maxwell Company, the John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP, a non-profit organisation specialising in training Christian leaders. www.johnmaxwell.com
** Reviews Described as “One of five most prominent business books coming out in 2015” by digitalbusinessconsultancy.com. Included on UK Business Insider’s Best business books of 2015.
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Author: John C. Maxwell