Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review (#4 of 2013) Leadership 101 by John C. Maxwell

Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know is Maxwell's condensation of his major talking points in leadership. It's a short book filled with soundbites and a few anecdotes. But I gleaned a few things. 

Leadership is influence, and we all influence people throughout our day. Hence, we can all be leaders. Having more people in reach of your influence is a function of your development as a leader.
Bill Hybels' book on leadership (he often partners with Maxwell) was influential in my life. Hybels requires everyone in leadership positions at Willow Creek to be actively reading about leadership. I have taken that to heart so that I include books on leadership (including biographies and memoirs) in my regular rotation. Maxwell espouses that continuous reading and learning as critical for leaders. In 1969, he sent letters to key leaders in whatever industry he was working in soliciting 30 minutes of their time for $100. He interviewed them and tried to learn what they knew.

Maxwell endorses the Pareto principle: 20% of resources generate 80% of the results, so invest most of your time in the 20% of activities that generate the most revenue, the top 20% of your workforce, etc.

Your influence will be measured by what happens after you leave, so not planning a succession means you are not succeeding. Maxwell learned that one the hard way, the first church he helped build fell apart after he left-- he hadn't prepared them to continue in his absence. I think this point falls under Covey's point to "begin with the end in mind." 

Volunteer organizations like churches are the most leader-centric organizations; the director/pastor cannot offer monetary incentives for productivity, so people have to be responding to the leadership-- there is some intrinsic reward here. Hence, the leader should work hard to develop people in his influence so that those people find it worthwhile to follow.

I have to think: How does this apply to government (or a union situation), where workers may not face fear of firing and there are no monetary incentives or opportunities for advancement that can be offered? I think that's similar to the voluntary organization, the leader can motivate employees by investing in their own development as a reward. Perhaps that investment means they leave the organization for a better position, but that's just part of the cost of having employees' motives aligned with the goal of the organization.

This book is short, hence I recommend it with 3.5 stars

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