Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Review By Professor M.S.Rao “Leadership” Authored By John C. Maxwell

“Success can be defined as the progressive realization of a predetermined goal.” – John C. Maxwell

The book titled ‘Leadership’ by John C. Maxwell is a small book that unleashes your leadership potential. It contains several leadership lessons based on the author’s personal experiences. It helps you follow your vision and bring others with you and produce a lasting legacy. It defines leadership, identifies a few traits every leader should develop, and shows the impact leadership can have on your life and the lives of those you lead. It equips you the abilities to influence and empowers others and emphasizes that leadership develops daily, not in a day.

The book is divided into three parts with a total of ten chapters. The first part deals with the development of a leader, the second part describes the traits of a leader and the third part dwells on the impact of a leader.

The book breaks the ice with the Law of the Lid that helps the people understand the value of leadership. It starts with a story where two young brothers named Dick and Maurice moved from New Hampshire to California in search of the American Dream. They were McDonald brothers who proved themselves as efficient managers but could not excel as leaders.

John C. Maxwell says that each individual influences at least ten thousand other people during their lifetime. He explains the importance of Pareto’s principal with examples. He observes that leaders tend to initiate and followers tend to react.

He compares leadership development with boxing as it needs daily preparation. He presents the brief biography of Theodore Roosevelt who was a boxer and excelled as an effective leader. As a child, he was puny and very sickly. He had debilitating asthma, possessed very poor eyesight and was painfully thin. His parents weren’t sure he would survive. He was the most flamboyant of all U.S. presidents. The author reveals that nothing was an obstacle to Roosevelt. His enthusiasm and stamina seemed boundless. As the vice presidential candidate in 1900, he gave 673 speeches and traveled 20,000 miles while campaigning for President McKinley.

He differentiates between leaders and followers as: leaders initiate while followers react; leaders lead, pick up phone and make contact while followers listen, wait for phone to ring; leaders spend time planning and anticipate problems while followers spend time living day-to-day reacting to problems; leaders invest time with people while followers spend time with people; and finally leaders fill the calendar by priorities while followers fill the calendar by requests.

A real leader knows the difference between being the boss and being a leader. The boss drives his workers while the leader coaches them; the boss depends upon authority while the leader on goodwill; the boss inspires fear while the leader inspires enthusiasm; the boss says “I” while the leader, “we” and the boss fixes the blame for the breakdown while the leader fixes the breakdown.

Although it’s true that some people are born with greater natural gifts than others, the ability to lead is really a collection of skills, nearly all of which can be learned and improved. But that process doesn’t happen overnight. Leadership is complicated. It has many facets: respect, experience, emotional strength, people skills, discipline, vision, momentum timing – the list goes on.

The author reveals the interesting sociological study of Dr. Anthony Campolo in which fifty people over the age of ninety-five were asked one question: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” The three most common answers were: they would reflect more, risk more and do more things that would live on after they are dead.

The author unfolds that one of the great dreamers of the twentieth century was Walt Disney whose greatest masterpieces of vision were Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The spark for that vision came from an unexpected place. You can’t buy, beg, or borrow vision. It has to come from the inside. He further adds that the greater the vision, the more winners it has the potential to attract. The more challenging the vision, the harder the participants fight to achieve it.

Maxwell busts five myths about leadership. They are: leading and managing are one and the same; entrepreneurs are leaders; IQ is equal to leadership; one who is in front of the crowd is a leader; and finally leadership is based on position.

The author motivates the readers with examples from Mother Teresa to Diana who influenced people regardless of their backgrounds. He emphasizes that although everyone has the potential they cannot achieve in overnight. It takes regular efforts to achieve success.

He aptly illustrates that President Abraham Lincoln was a master at empowering his leaders. For example, when he appointed General Ulysses S. Grant as commander of the Union armies in 1864, he sent him this message: “I neither ask nor desire to know anything of your plans. Take the responsibility and act, and call on me for assistance. That’s the attitude you need as an empowerer.

He says that leaders who leave a legacy of succession for their organization do the following:

1. Lead the organization with a “long view”.
2. Create a leadership culture.
3. Pay the price today to assure success tomorrow.
4. Value team leadership above individual leadership.
5. Walk away from the organization with integrity.
6. Few leaders pass it on. Max Dupree, author of Leadership Is an Art, declared, “Succession is one of the key responsibilities of leadership.” Achievement comes to someone when he is able to do great things for himself. Success comes when he empowers followers to do great things with him.

Maxwell personally regrets for not leaving a good legacy when he first took leadership position in Church, at Hillham, Indiana.

Leadership Takeaways

• The higher the leadership, the greater the effectiveness.
• Leadership develops daily, not in a day.
• The first person you lead is you.
• The discipline to prioritize and the ability to work toward a stated goal are essential to a leader’s success.
• Trust is the foundation of leadership.
• You can seize only what you can see.
• The true measure of leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.
• Real leadership is being the person others will gladly and confidently follow.
• The act of empowering others changes lives.
• A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.
• To reach out the highest level of effectiveness, you have to raise the lid of leadership ability.
• Successful leaders are learners. And the learning process is ongoing. A result of self-discipline and perseverance.
• No matter how gifted a leader is, his gifts will never reach their maximum potential without the application of self-discipline.
• If you know you have talent, and you’ve seen a lot of motion but little concrete results – you may lack self-discipline.
• A life in which anything goes will ultimately be a life in which nothing goes.
• Efficiency is the foundation for survival. Effectiveness is the foundation for success.
• When a leader’s character is strong, people trust him. And they trust in his ability to release their potential.
• Think about what you’d like to see change in the world around you.
• True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence.
• Followers in voluntary organizations cannot be forced to get on board. If the leader has not influence with them, they won’t follow.
• People under the influence of an empowering person are like paper in the hands of a talented artist.
• When it comes down to it, empowering leadership is sometimes the only real advantage one organization has over another in our competitive society.
• The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership.
• When the leader lacks confidence, the followers lack commitment.
• People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
• You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them.
• A leader is great, not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others. Success without a successor is failure.
• Loyalty to the leader reaches its highest peak when the follower has personally grown through the mentorship of the leader.
• Your greatest joy comes from watching others grow and develop.

The author concludes the book with, “You will be judged by how well your people and your organization did after you were gone. Your lasting value will be measured by succession.”

Final Word

This book is a collection of ideas and ideals of John C. Maxwell. The language is simple and straight with illustrations of great leaders like Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Roberto Goizueta, McDonald Brothers, Walt Disney and Mother Teresa. It contains pearls of wisdom in every sentence. It guides and grooves you in the right slot as an effective leader. It emphasizes that leadership develops daily, not in a day. It helps develop your leadership skills and abilities. This is a must read for all who like to grow as leaders and develop others as leaders.

Professor M.S.Rao
Founder and Chief Consultant,
MSR Leadership Consultants, India
Blog: http://profmsr.blogspot.com
Where Knowledge is Wealth
Email: profmsr7@gmail.com

Dear readers,

I would appreciate your comments about this article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir, really appreciate the manner in which the review has been present specially the take awys from the book which settle in the mind as you read through them.