Leadership 101

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Unleash your leadership potential with this need-to-know guide, direct from the playbooks of America’s most trusted leadership expert, John C. Maxwell. 

No matter who you are, you can lead—and lead well. That is the message New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell gives in this power-packed guidebook.

The consummate leader offers a succinct and inspiring framework for enhancing the leadership abilities you already possess.

Take Aways

  1. Follow your vision and bring others with you
  2. Produce a lasting legacy
  3. Grow the loyalty of your followers
  4. Make continual investments in the quality of your leadership
  5. Increase your ability to influence others
  6. Determine your leadership „lid“
  7. Empower others through mentoring
  8. Create a foundation of trust
  9. Use self-discipline to improve your character—and your results

What’s in it for me?

Cut through the hype and jump straight to the practice of leadership.
Few buzzwords inspire more misunderstanding or confusion than leadership. After all, leadership is for business bros, Fortune 500 types, and entrepreneurs, right? And leaders are born – they’re not made.
If these myths about leadership ring hollow, it’s because they’re not true. Anyone can be a leader; anyone can inspire others into action or growth. Leadership can be learned,
nurtured, and mastered.

Success without leadership is possible, but it’s limited.

Leadership is often highly valued and praised these days, but why is this the case? The answer lies in what it takes to achieve success in life. True success involves developing skills in four crucial areas: relationships, self-directed learning, attitude, and leadership. Leadership is particularly crucial because it has the power to amplify the effects of the other three areas.

Leadership is important because it encompasses many of the traits that contribute to success in other areas of life. Effective leaders know how to prioritize tasks and demonstrate discipline in completing them. They also foster trust in others by taking the time to consider what is most important. Additionally, they align their vision and character with their values and clearly communicate these values to others.

Consider the story of Dick and Maurice McDonald, two brothers who opened a drive-in restaurant in Pasadena in 1937. They were able to capitalize on the popularity of cars in California and their restaurant, which served food to customers in their vehicles, was a huge success. However, by 1948, the drive-in trend was on the decline. The brothers made the wise decision to switch to a walk-up restaurant and simplify their menu to focus on hamburgers, switching from china and silverware to paper and plastic. This resulted in a doubling of their profits and the opening of a second location.

The story of Dick and Maurice McDonald could have ended there, but the arrival of a visionary leader, Ray Kroc, changed everything. The brothers wanted to expand their business, but they didn’t want to take on the extra work required to open more restaurants themselves. Kroc, familiar with the concept of franchising, saw the potential for McDonald’s to open in multiple cities and partnered with the brothers to form the McDonald’s Corporation in 1955. In the next four years, they opened 100 additional restaurants, and four years later, there were 500. In 1961, Kroc bought the rights to McDonald’s for just over $2.7 million. Today, McDonald’s has restaurants all over the world.

While Dick and Maurice McDonald certainly worked hard and were successful in their own right, it took a leader like Ray Kroc to recognize the company’s full potential, develop a vision, and assemble the right team to make it into the global phenomenon it is today.

Leadership is a journey that never ends.

Leadership is not just for those in positions of power or those at the top of the corporate ladder. In fact, even those in leadership roles may not fully recognize the opportunities available to them or the influence they could wield. No matter where you are on your leadership journey, a good place to start is understanding the four phases of leadership. These phases are:

  1. Acknowledging that, like everyone else, you don’t know everything. This phase involves exploring your blind spots and being curious, introspective, and research-oriented.
  2. Knowing what you don’t know. This phase may be one you reach multiple times throughout your journey. Successful leaders are lifelong learners, constantly seeking out new knowledge and ways to improve.
  3. Trusting that as you grow, the effects will be visible. This phase requires patience with yourself, as leadership development is an ongoing process that does not happen overnight. Cultivating self-discipline and perseverance can help you make daily progress.
  4. Reaching a point where leadership comes naturally. This final phase takes time and daily practice, but with effort, you can develop trust in yourself and your abilities.

Remember that effective leaders rely on a self-development plan to maintain and grow their skills, so don’t hesitate to create one for yourself.

The first person you lead is you.

Discipline and perseverance are essential components of the four phases of leadership. So, how can you foster these traits in yourself? One way is to take the following steps:

  1. Challenge your excuses. Many of us fail to achieve our goals because we are skilled at making excuses. Recognize when you’re making excuses, and make a conscious effort to avoid them.
  2. Remove positive rewards until you achieve your goals. This has the benefit of preventing you from rewarding yourself before the job is done, which can lead to a lack of self-discipline.
  3. Focus on results rather than the discomfort of the new routine. Keeping yourself focused on results will help you avoid drifting into self-pity, which is the enemy of self-discipline.
  4. Prioritize your time and effort effectively. A common principle in business is the 20-80 rule, which states that 20% of people on a team provide 80% of its success, and the top 20% of projects bring in 80% of revenue. Successful leaders spend 80% of their time on the top 20% of their priorities. You can apply this principle to your everyday life by focusing on the things that are most important to you.
  5. Prioritize the things that bring you the most reward. This will keep your motivation high and help you adapt quickly when your priorities change.

It’s important to note that it’s okay to prioritize the things that bring you joy, not just the things that are important. Remember, too many priorities can be overwhelming, so it’s important to focus on the ones that are most critical.

Trust is the foundation of leadership – and its most precious asset.

As you progress in your leadership journey, understanding the concept of trust is crucial. In the same way that one starts a new job with a certain amount of petty cash, a leader also begins with a certain amount of goodwill. The leader’s actions over time will determine whether that trust is built or fails.

To inspire trust in others, there are three key traits you should demonstrate: competence, connection, and character. Competence refers to your ability to perform the tasks required of your role. Connection is the ability to build relationships with others. And character encompasses honesty, integrity, and the ability to put others‘ needs ahead of your own.

It’s important to note that while a leader may be forgiven for an honest mistake or lack of competence, violations of trust or poor character can have a lasting impact on trust.

In order to be a successful, enduring leader, developing and displaying character is essential. It not only demonstrates consistency and strength, but also shows a genuine connection and respect for others. When a leader makes sound decisions, takes responsibility for their mistakes, and puts their team’s priorities ahead of their own, they build trust and mutual respect that elevates any team.

Successful leadership is measured in influence.

At the beginning of this exploration of leadership, we stated that leadership is the „secret sauce“ that multiplies and amplifies success. Let’s examine this idea further.

In certain situations, such as business or military leadership, poor leaders may have leverage to force compliance from those under them. However, in organizations that rely on volunteers, in charities, or religious institutions, the power of leadership lies in its ability to influence others.

To be a successful leader in such environments, it is essential to demonstrate competence, connection, and character. Additionally, a clear and compelling vision that aligns with the values of others is necessary to inspire them to follow.

Furthermore, successful leadership leads to a growth of new leaders. As the leader’s consistency and compassion develops, they influence others to develop as leaders themselves. In this way, the impact of personal or professional growth ripples outward through networks, families, or communities, multiplying the leader’s impact and influence. This also helps to ensure the longevity of the organization even after the leader’s transition.

Finally, it’s important to understand that achieving a legacy in leadership takes commitment to the same principles of competence, connection, and character throughout the leadership journey. The higher one goes, the more commitment it will require, but the rewards will also be greater.

Summary – Find your “top 20.”

Leadership is the key to multiplying your success in all aspects of life. It’s a journey that unfolds in four phases: acknowledging what you don’t know, learning, trusting the growth process, and natural leadership. But the most crucial aspect of leadership is influence, the ability to persuade others to follow and take their own leadership journey. To be an effective leader, prioritize your time and resources on the top 20% of your team, who will have the greatest impact on your success. Remember, leadership is a process that requires discipline, reflection, character development, and a lifelong commitment to learning. But the more you persevere, the greater the rewards, even to the point of changing the world.