In Developing the Leader Within You, John C. Maxwell gives advice on improving your leadership skills and a step-by-step guide of the leadership process.
It is a fact that leaders are not born but are made. It takes exposure to another person’s leadership model, training and self-disciplined.
What is Leadership?
Above all, “Leadership is influence”, according to John C. Maxwell in Developing the Leader Within You. Leadership is not defined by an ability to acquire position, rank and status.
Furthermore, leadership distinguishes itself from management. “Management is the process of assuring that the program and objectives of the organization are implemented. Leadership, on the other hand, has to do with casting vision and motivating people.”
Who is a leader?
The leader of any group is discovered when an important issue is to be decided, when everyone follows and listens to his or her opinion.
Everyone can be a leader, is currently leading, has led, is led or is being led. Contrary to popular belief, even an introvert can be a leader.
Everybody has influence to some extent and influence can be developed. To discover your level and your type of influence, John C. Maxwell has separated the leadership process into 5 “levels”.
What are the 5 levels of the leadership process?
The higher you go in the leadership process or the closer you reach to the final and fifth level of the leadership process, the longer it takes to pass a level, the higher the sacrifice and the level of commitment,the more people will want to follow you, the easier it is to lead, and the easier it is to implement change and encourage growth.
Each level is interdependent and is the basis for the higher one. First find out the level of influence that you have with your coworkers and then, solidify the basis of this level before moving on to the next one.
At this level, authority and influence are conferred by the job title, which is the “basic entry-level of leadership”. This level is the common understanding of what leadership is.
Aspects and conditions of Position Leadership:
- The job title has to be appointed to you by someone higher in authority, thanks to your technical training, and your ability to maintain procedures and protocol.
- The position provides security but does not automatically create followers. People will execute your orders but will not go beyond your stated authority.
- Millennials don’t respect figures of authority because they are no longer impressed.
- Position leaders can only control people through monetary leverage.
- White collars resent position leaders who abuse authority and attempt to intimidate.
- Start by respecting procedures and protocols, by performing well, by providing results and by being consistent with it.
- Make sure you fit the corporate culture and share your company values.
- Come up with innovative ideas.
This leadership level is based on interrelationship skills. People will work for you, not because they have to but because they want to.
Aspect and conditions of Permission Leadership:
- Building solid relationships with people allows you to build sustainable leadership.
- Develop your interrelationship skills.
- Invest in people and in “win-win” situations.
- Include people in your group.
This is a period of positive growth in leadership. Your productivity is therefore enhanced, even though you are not yet qualified for the job.
- Develop a “statement for purpose”, a “responsibility for growth”, an “accountability for results”, an understanding for timing and an appreciation for change.
Level of leadership where you are able to empower others and instill loyalty into them.
- “be a model to follow”.
- Invest time and mentorship in the top 20% of your followers. Identify other influencers that are your subordinates to unify the team around you and to build “collective influence”.
- Make an effort to stay in touch with everyone even the new comers to the company.
Fifth and final level where you entirely benefit from your leadership position.
Aspect and conditions of Personhood Leadership:
- An emphasis is placed on growing others and watching them grow.
- You are surrounded by loyal and sacrificial followers.
So what are the keys to leadership success at each level?
Leadership success is obtained by understanding the 20/80 percent principle or Pareto principle to projects, to your job, to the people around you, by prioritizing and by working toward a stated goal. To do so, on one hand, identify the high importance and the high urgency projects in order to tackle them first. On the other hand, determine your respective responsibilities from what can be delegated to someone else, what tasks give you the greatest returns and which activities give you the most satisfaction on your job. Finally, analyze the significance of goals before starting projects.
The character to leadership success
In Developing the Leader Within You, John C. Maxwell considers 8 components of character that contribute to leadership success.
Integrity is the most important component of leadership. Why? Because it instills trust, helps you gain credibility, grow your influence, build a solid reputation, increase your accountability and your sense of responsibility, resolve internal conflicts and foster a spirit of contentment within you. You do what you say you are consistently and are able to lead by example.
Keep in mind that “integrity is not a given factor in everyone’s life. It is a result of self-discipline, inner trust, and a decision to being relentlessly honest in all situations in our lives”.
In order to keep leading, keep changing yourself and your organization, keep renovating and innovating, encouraging growth. The leader has to become comfortable with change and has to acquire the right attitude and understand the demands for such change.
On the job, people all have problems and will tend to underperform. Unfortunately, you cannot eliminate problems and responsibilities from your life but you can overcome and work through them by changing your attitude and reactions towards them.
Leaders do not hold on to problems nor make excuses for their failures but instead transform their “stumbling blocks into stepping-stones”. In fact, they live by the following motto:
“If I can’t do something about a problem, it’s not my problem, it’s a fact of life”.
Also, a leader is able to recognize a problem ahead, is constantly looking for indications of problems before they occur, and is able to best solve them by teaching people how to solve their own problems, by listing all the causes and solutions of the problem, by directly attacking the symptoms of the problem and not the cause,
The right attitude
The right attitude must be developed for leadership to give the right model to your followers.
A love for people
Invest in people by:
- developing people skills on your own,
- teaching people around you how to be a leader,
- motivating and encouraging others,
- making the right assumptions about people,
- becoming familiar with the right questions to ask people,
- being comfortable enough to confront or clarify an issue with someone,
- becoming an active listener,
- giving the right assistance to people,
- allowing team member to utilize their greatest strengths instead of their talents.
An ability to have and share a vision
Leaders must have a vision, “a clear picture of what the leader sees his or her group being or doing” in order to find strength from inner convictions, to provide stamina and to continue their journey when setbacks occur.
The vision needs to be supported by the leader and has to be fed by the leader’s credibility, energy, by the commitment and ownership of the leader and followers, and by the timing of its presentation.
An inclination for personal growth and self-discipline
A leader without self-discipline is his or her worst enemy and appears to be out of control. “This leads to uncertainty and insecurity among followers”.
You can start self-discipline by getting organized, by being responsible for yourself, your actions and your followers, accountable to your followers, by cultivating emotional intelligence, by developing sacrifice and by paying the price of sacrifice.
An enthusiasm for developing people
One of the role of leadership consists in growing people and developing the leader in them. To do so, create an environment for success, boost your team’s self-esteem, care for your team, understand their human needs and their motivations.
Developing the Leader Within You, by John C. Maxwell, is a self-help book to assess your leadership skills, to solidify and improve your level of influence in your organization. Developing the Leader Within You is filled with small tests, examples and anecdotes to help you relate to the useful message.
It is dedicated to those who are unafraid of change, are willing to continually improve themselves and are ambitious enough to keep moving up the corporate ladder.
Developing the Leader Within You is also ideal for beginners who are at an entry-level position. When you freshly graduate, you believe that leadership rhymes with title, rank, position and responsibilities, and that everyone had to do what you say. Regrettably, I discovered that this wasn’t the case and that I had to work hard building a relationship with my coworkers.
This book has first been published in 1993 but the content is very much contemporaneous and should be prompted to anyone who conceives false notions about leadership. Leadership is not accessible to everyone even though everybody is trying to do it nowadays, starting with millennials: it takes self-discipline and sacrifice which not everyone is willing to do.
Lastly, I enjoyed that John C. Maxwell made it clear that leadership is a long process that cannot be rushed and that there are steps that cannot be skipped.
Leadership is influence.
Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted individual will influence ten thousand other people during his or her lifetime!
integrity is not given factor in everyone’s life. It is a result of self-discipline, inner trust, and a decision to be relentlessly honest in all situations in our lives.
If I can’t do something about a problem, it’s not my problem, it’s a fact of life.
A vision should be greater that the person who has it.
The growth and the development of people is the highest calling of leadership.