Thursday, January 6, 2011

Book Review “Developing the Leaders Around You” Authored By John C. Maxwell –Professor M.S.Rao, Reviewer

“Excellence breeds character, and character breeds excellence. Demand excellence from your people, and they will develop into people who also demand excellence of themselves and the people they lead.” – John C. Maxwell

John C. Maxwell’s book titled Developing the Leaders around You helps others reach their full potential by identifying and training potential leaders around you. It contains Maxwell’s invaluable experiences and anecdotes. The book is divided into ten chapters. The book preludes with the success story of John Wooden, a great basket ball coach who brought ten national basketball championships to UCLA in a span of twelve years.

Maxwell finds three things that characterize disciplined leaders:

• They have identified specific long – and short-term goals for themselves.
• They have a plan for achieving those goals.
• They have a desire that motivates them to continue working to accomplish those goals.

He outlines Five A’s while hiring an employee:

Assessment of needs: What is needed?
Assets on hand: Who are the people already in the organization Who are available?
Ability of candidates: Who is able?
Attitude of candidates: Who is willing?
Accomplishments o candidates: Who gets things done?

He reveals his leadership success as follows:

Every good piece of information a person finds needs to be processed and filed. He has used this system for more than thirty-five years. As he finds good articles or quotes, he clips and files them. This has two advantages. First, whenever he needs materials for a talk or seminar, he has thirty-five years of collected resources to draw upon. Second, each time he reduces an article down to its one most relevant sentence or paragraph, he has processed through all the information digested it, summarized it, and learned it.

Each time you learn something new, it’s good to ask yourself, “Where, when, and how can I use this?” He prefers to do more than simply make a mental connection with the things he learns.

• Select one thing each week that he has learned.
• Put it on a 3 x 5 card. (he keeps it in front of him for a week.)
• Shares it with his wife.
• Shares it with someone else within twenty-four hours.
• Teaches it to someone else. (he puts it in a lesson.)

He suggests that a daily discipline pays dividends. Here is the weekly plan that he recommends at his conferences:

Monday: One hour with God
Tuesday: One hour listening to a leadership tape.
Wednesday: Another hour with the same tape (including time filing notes on highlights and reflecting on what has been learned)
Thursday: One hour reading a leadership book.
Friday: Another hour with the same book (including time filing notes on highlights and reflecting on what has been learned)

Positive Attitude

Maxwell compares a person with a positive attitude is like a bumblebee. The bumblebee should not be able to fly, because the size, weight, and shape of its body in relationship to its wingspread makes flying aerodynamically impossible. But the bumblebee, being ignorant of scientific theory flies anyway and makes honey every day. He writes about attitude as:

It is the advance man of our true selves.
Its roots are inward, but its fruit is outward.
It is our best friend or our worst enemy.
It is more honest and more consistent than our words.
It is an outward look based on past experiences.
It is a thing which draws people to us or repels them.
It is never content until it is expressed.
It is the librarian of our past.
It is the speaker of our present.
It is the prophet of our future .

Not only does the future look bright when the attitude is right, but the present is much more enjoyable too. The positive person understands that the journey is as enjoyable as the destination.

Maxwell justifies Napoleon Bonaparte as one of history’s greatest leaders. One of his leadership secrets was knowing the needs of his men. He first determined what his men wanted most. Then he did everything possible to help them get it. He knew this was a key to successful motivation. Most leaders do the opposite. They first decide what they want. Then they try to persuade others to want the same thing as much as they do.

Maxwell asserts that the best type of training takes advantage of the way people learn. Researchers tell us that we remember 10 percent of what we hear, 50 percent of what we see, 70percent of what we say, and 90 percent of what we hear, see, say, an do. Knowing that, we have to develop an approach to how we will train. He has found the best training method to be a five step process of modeling, mentoring, monitoring, motivating and multiplying.

He adds, “When water boils at 212 degrees, but at 211 degrees, it is still just hot water. One extra degree, an increase of less than one-half of one percent, can make the difference between a pot of languishing liquid and a bubbling caldron of power. One degree can create a full head of steam – enough power to move a train weighing tons. That one degree is usually momentum.”

Maxwell explains about Dr. G. Campbell Morgan who tells the story of a man whose shop burned to the ground in the great Chicago fire. He arrived at the ruins the next morning carrying table and set it up amid the charred debris. Above the table he placed this optimistic sign: “Everything lost except wife, children, and hope. Business will resume as usual tomorrow morning.”

Maxwell unfolds the ten qualities to become a dream team coach based on his three decades of leadership experience.

1. A dream team coach chooses players well. Red Auerbach, longtime Boston Celtics president said, “How you select people is more important than how you manage them once they’re on the job. If you start with the right people, you won’t have problems later on. If you hire the wrong people, for whatever reason, you’re in serious trouble and all the revolutionary management techniques in the world won’t bail you out.”
2. A dream team coach constantly communicates the game plan.
3. A dream team coach takes the time to huddle.
4. A dream team coach knows what his or her players prefer.
5. A dream team coach excels in problem solving. A leader should strive for excellence, but he should expect problems to occur. And believe it or not, he should welcome them. Problems almost always create opportunities – to learn, grow and improve. Leaders must anticipate problems before they occur. They must maintain a positive attitude while they occur.
6. A dream team coach provides the support needed for success.
7. A dream team coach commands the respect of the players.
8. A dream team coach does not treat everyone the same.
9. A dream team coach continues to win.
10. A dream team coach understands the levels of the players.

He outlines ten guidelines for approaching confrontation with an attitude of win-win.

1. Confront ASAP.
2. Separate the person from the wrong action.
3. Confront only what the person can change.
4. Give the person the benefit of the doubt.
5. Be specific.
6. Avoid sarcasm.
7. Avoid words like always and never.
8. Tell the person how you feel about what was done wrong.
9. Give the person a game plan to fix the problem.
10. Affirm him or her as a person and a friend.

He unfolds that true leaders are able to attract potential leaders because:

• Leaders think like them.
• Leaders express feelings that other leaders sense.
• Leaders create an environment that attracts potential leaders.
• Leaders are not threatened by people with great potential.

Great Quotes from Book

“We grow by dreams. All big individuals are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day, or in the red fire on a long winter’s evening. Some of us let those great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nourish them through bad days until they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.” – Woodrow Wilson
“You can buy a man’s time, you can even buy his physical presence at given place, but you cannot buy enthusiasm .. you cannot buy loyalty … you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds, or souls. You must earn these.” - Charles Frances
“If you are doing big things, you attract big men. If you are doing the little things, you attract little men. Little men usually cause trouble.” - Winston Churchill
“Men are developed the same way gold is mined. Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold. But you don’t go into the mine looking for dirt, but you go in looking for the gold.” - Carnegie said
“Great leaders are never satisfied with current levels of performance. They constantly strive for higher and higher levels of achievement.” - Donna Harrison
“One of the great discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” - Henry Ford
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You were born to be a winner, but to be a winner you must plan to win and prepare to win.” - Zig Zigler
“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” - Vince Lombardi
“You can take my factories, burn up my buildings, but give me my people, and I’ll bring my business right back again.” - Henry Ford
“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind in other people the convictions and will to carry one.” – Walter Lippman
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others … it is the only thing.” - Albert Schweitzer
“The speed of the boss is the speed of the team.” - Lee Iacocca
“No matter what size the bottle, the cream always came to the top.” - Charles Wilson, the former president of General Electric


• Acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task.
• Grow a leader – grow the organization.
• Everything rises and falls on leadership.
• It takes a leader to know a leader, grow a leader, and show a leader.
• There is no success without a successor.
• A leader’s success can be defined as the maximum utilization of the abilities of those under him.
• Momentum is the greatest of all change agents.
• It takes a leader with vision to see the future leader within the person.
• To develop positive, successful people, look for the gold, not the dirt.
• Character flaws cannot be ignored. They will eventually make a leader ineffective.
• A proven leader always has a proven track record.
• A great leader has the ability to instill within his people confidence in themselves.
• Liking people is the beginning of the ability to communicate.
• A leader who loves the status quo soon becomes a follower.
• Seek people who seek solutions.
• Nurturing has the ability to transform people’s lives.
• Leadership can only function on the basis of trust.
• Time spent with a potential leader is an investment.
• When you believe in people, you motivate them and release their potential.
• It is the leader’s job to hold hope high.
• Spend 80 percent of your time on the most promising 20 percent of the potential leaders around you.
• Equipping, like nurturing, is an ongoing process. Equipping must be tailored to each potential leader.
• A person should be spending 80 percent of his time doing things that require his greatest gifts and abilities.
• All good mentoring relationships begin with a personal relationship.
• The leader must know his people well enough to identify attainable goals that require a stretch.
• Good leaders are good listeners.
• Every idea is a good idea until you’ve settled on the best idea.
• Personal growth is like investing. It’s not your timing. It’s your time in.
• Excellence breeds character, and character breeds excellence.
• Teams that don’t bond can’t build.
• A good team fit requires an attitude of partnership.
• Individualism wins trophies, but teamwork wins pennants.
• Knowing where their team stands at every moment separates the great players from the adequate players.
• Success comes down to sacrifice-willing to pay the price.
• Having the right players determines 60 to 80 percent of the success of any organization.
• Problems almost always create opportunities – to learn, grow, and improve.
• Good coaches approach each opponent from a fresh perspective.
• Respect must be earned over time. There are no shortcuts.
• Give opportunities, resources, and playing time according to players’ past performance.
• Delegation is the most powerful tool leaders have.
• People development is life-changing for everyone involved.
• Believe in people, and they will rise to fulfill that belief.
• Look for opportunities to share yourself with people.
• People become empowered when you provide them with three things: opportunity, freedom, and security.
• To live a worthwhile, meaningful life, a person must be a part of something greater than himself.
• One of the greatest rewards of adding value to people is that it comes back to you multiplied.
• A leader who produces other leaders multiplies his influence.
• True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.
• Relational skills are the most important abilities in leadership.
• How big we think determines the size of our accomplishments.
• Progress and innovation are made by people who think without lines.
• Give your leaders deep, broad roots by growing them slowly and varying their experiences.
• Managers are maintainers, tending to rely on systems and controls. Leaders are innovators and creators who rely on people.
• If you want to become an expert in a subject, according to Earl Nightingale, spend an hour a day for five years focusing on that subject.

Leadership Lessons

1. Poor commitment equals poor development; great commitment equals great development.
2. When you look for potential leaders, select people with obvious strengths even if you see weaknesses.
3. A good team is made up of people with different talents playing different positions to accomplish one goal.
4. People must learn to do new things. When people do only what is comfortable for them, they get into a rut. They stop growing.
5. Great desire can overcome a multitude of natural deficiencies in a leader.
6. Leaders are abstract thinkers. They think in terms of intangibles like timing, morale, attitude, momentum, and atmosphere. They read between the lines. They anticipate the unexpected.
7. Leaders create and inspire new leaders by instilling faith in their leadership abilities and helping them develop and hone leadership skills they don’t know they possess.
8. 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.
9. Followers tell you want you want to hear. Leaders tell you what you need to hear.
10. Too often people limit their own potential. They think small. They are afraid of risk. People no longer willing to stretch are no longer able to grow. As author Henry Drummond says, “Unless a man undertakes more than the possible can do, he will never do all he can do.”
11. Hiring an employee is like skydiving: once you’ve jumped out of the plane, you’re committed. The key to making the right choice depends on two things: 1) your ability to see the big picture, and 2) your ability to judge potential employees during the selection process.
12. A potential leader who feels secure is more likely to take risks, try to excel, break new ground, and succeed. Great leaders make their followers feel bigger than they are. Soon the followers begin to think, act, and produce bigger than they are. Finally, they become what they think they are.
13. The very best leaders, the top 1 percent, take their people the next step and develop them so they can reach their potential. The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.

Final Word

Maxwell differentiates between nurturing, equipping and developing. And he outlines the differences between winning by competitiveness and wining by cooperation. He says that often the departing leader don’t pave smooth way for their successors leading to debacle.

Maxwell conveys an emphatic message that leaders who don’t develop people will one day find themselves hitting a wall in their success. No matter how efficient and strategic they are, eventually they run out of time. He concludes the book by questioning the readers, “Are you developing the leaders around you?”

The book contains several research studies, quotations, illustrations and self-assessment tests to ensure effective takeaways about the content. It unfolds pearls of wisdom based on the rich experience of Maxwell. He has the uncanny ability to connect with readers by arousing and sustaining their interest towards the contents. It is worth reading not only to become a good leader but also to build leaders around you so that you can successfully pass on the leadership baton to your next generation.

The End

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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this book review! I found it very enlightening. I appreciate that you have included a lot of Maxwell's wonderful quotes, and you did a good job in summarizing the book as well.

Employee Assessments said...

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