Developing the Leader Within You 2.0

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Member Reviews

I enjoy the insights of John Maxwell on leadership.  Honestly though, I don't remember the first version of this book as it's been that long since I've read it.  So this was a nice refresher.  

John Maxwell's books are my ultimate reference books on leadership and personal development.

Thank you NetGalley and publisher for sharing this book with me.
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While I have several of John Maxwell's books, I would consider myself a Maxwell disciple. However, even though he is from a different generation and speaks with a voice that is very different from much of what I otherwise read on leadership and business, I found I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
As the '2.0' indicates, it is a revised and updated version of the book that he first wrote 25 years ago and you can tell that the wisdom of now 70-year author shines through. Experience of many lessons learned and taught are now part of the book and it makes it very interesting and insightful read.
Many times, I found myself nodding, wishing I had appreciated certain situations in the light that Maxwell puts them in this book.
I know I will find myself diving deeper into my Maxwell "library' for more lessons in the future.
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As a leadership coach I have read many of John's books.  I love this one.  I went thru a mastermind with Mark Cole as the leader.  I beleive reading and APPLYING this book can offer insurance in your life that you will grow and become successfull in gaining clarity and learning to grow." You cannot lead where you have not been". John C Maxwell  You cannot grow other leaders without having learned yourself.  Where there is no vision there is only perishing.  This book helps you find your vision and lean into it. I bought this book but I was also was given this book by #netgalley for my honest review. When you learn from John Maxwell you are learning from the best.  He has written over 80 books.  He is called upon from presidents from other countries to teach them to lead.  His heart is to transform the world one leader at a time.  John has been voted the 1 Leadership Guru multiple times.  This is definitly a must read.
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New and improved, with development exercises for each chapter, this is a super tool in going deeper and growing to a new level of leadership.  If you are familiar with John Maxwell's teaching, and/or have read any of his other books, some of what you'll read here won't be all new, but it is chock full of the fundamentals you need to learn to lead.
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The levels of leadership which is thoroughly explained in this book is very handy for all - for new and seasoned leaders.  This is a good guide and thought provoking. Still one of John Maxwell's best book.
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I'm thanking by the publisher for the free copy and opportunity to read this book! This is a must read book by Maxwell, well written , up to point and informative.
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Where was this book when I needed it?!?! 

Granted, I know I'm late, as Mr. Maxwell has many books out about leadership, but this one, I believe is a must for leaders, especially new and aspiring leaders, and those who suck and need this advice. We know those people so leave them a copy at their desk as a gift. At any rate, even those who aren't in leadership roles per se will gain new insight and information about leadership behavior that will help all of us both professionally and personally. 

This book discusses what I learned in leadership development class, as well as from experience. Again, if I had read this book before I became a manager, it would have made my experience much easier. I would have known what I was up against and what I could have done differently.
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I have read a lot of leadership management books in my life. This book has been one of the best. It is different in that it gives real life practical ideas and how you can implement them on your own.The I have always been informed by my elders that it is not what you say in life but how you say it to people. People will not remember what you say to them but how you say it to them and how you treat them. This books brings that back to mind. The author has been on of my favorite to read. He continues to nail down the true nature of leadership in what it takes to be one and how to continue each day as a leader. The author makes you think about your actions and how it impacts those around you. A good leader learns from his or her mistakes and strive to improve his or her skills as a leader. One of the major keys to leadership is communication. The author makes that apparently clear that without it the leader bound to repeat bad communication. Defining how you  wish to communicate your message is important then followed by the way one communicates. How you treat that person, what you body language says about the topic you are presenting? The author portrays that in his book.
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John Maxwell's tone is always very "can do" -- in the first chapter, he's clear that leaders are not "born", your title, seniority and experience won't make you a leader automatically.  He's very clear that to become a leader requires a lot of work, but if you choose a path of self-awareness, selflessness and dedication to growth -- you can become a leader.  It's a process, not a destination -- and leaders must always be open to learning and listening.  

Maxwell's style is a bit different from other leadership books -- he's very practical about the process and provides very clear guidelines for self-inquiry, gaining input from others, and loads of comparison lists that provide both food for thought and a strong sense of where he's coming from in his thinking.

In the first chapter, for example, he offers a list of the differences between a "boss" and a "leader" in his discussion of positional leaders -- who have authority but who are not "leaders."

For example:

"Bosses drive workers; leaders coach them.
Bosses depend on authority; leaders depend on goodwill.
Bosses inspire fear; leaders inspire enthusiasm.
Bosses say, "I"; leaders say, "We."
Bosses fix the blame for any breakdown; leaders fix the breakdown.
Bosses know how it is done; leaders show how.
Bosses say, "Go"; leaders say "Let's go." (p16)

His levels of leadership are similar to many others: Position, Permission, Production, People Development, Pinnacle.  However, it is possible to occupy different levels of leadership with different people or in different situations in your life at the same time. 

Additionally - leadership is not like PacMan:  you have to keep working to maintain the other levels that you've achieved, you can't just coast on reputation, for example.  

Maxwell repeatedly stresses the importance of focus and clarity of vision -- Chapter 2 is dedicated to Priorities.  Everyone who works in a corporate environment knows how hard it is to get work done when everything is a "high priority" - or when your boss keeps changing your priorities and then holds you accountable for dropped projects that s/he deprioritized weeks ago.

Maxwell's key principles here are of the common sense variety, but folks who are operating out of fear or ego lose sight of them:   "smarter not harder" for higher returns or greater productivity; you really can't that you can't have it all; good is the enemy of best.  Prioritizing is critical to progress toward a vision or goal.  

"Proactive means choosing. Reactive means losing" -- another great comparison chart follows here:

Initiators:  prepare, plan ahead, put priorities in their calendars, pick up the phone, etc
Reactors: repair, live in the moment, put other's requests in their calendars, wait for the phone to ring, etc

Another way to better prioritize work is to ask:  what is required of me that nobody else can do? what will have the highest return/impact? what is most rewarding?   The implication being that leaders need to learn to better delegate -- and a theme throughout the book is to work to your strengths, and to develop others around you.  Being clear in your priorities, delegating allows a leader to offer opportunities to develop strengths of others.

But, at the big picture level:  "Your long-term career goal should be to align the tasks that answer your requirement, return, and reward questions."

Another great recommendation is to build in time for transition between appointments -- this is something that is hard to enforce in some environments but critical, according to Maxwell, for improving self0-awareness, EQ and renewing your energy level.  

Throughout this chapter he's very keen on the "80/20" principle -- and uses it as a general rule for exercises to increase focus and reduce clutter -- "What are 20 percent of people/possessions/activities that I get the most value out of?" and so on.  It's simplistic but for those who haven't sat down to think in this way, it could be very useful.

Chapter 3 focuses on character and includes a great story about Pope Francis which surprised me.  there are a ton of great questions about "Am I a healthy leader..."  to help increase one's awareness of character.  For example:  "To what extent do I feel superior to those who work for me?"  and so on.  

If you aren't happy with your character, or things you've done in the past - you can start anew each day -- though he doesn't talk about neuroplasticity, he does have a strong belief in people being able to change their character through self-awareness, self-discipline and good decisions that support the development of others.  Character is critical because it builds trustworthiness and you can't lead if people don't trust you.

Trust is something that is the leader's responsibility to develop -- and leaders take risks in both directions; every interaction is an opportunity to build trust.  

To build character, Maxwell focuses on these four dimensions:  authenticity, self-management, humility, and courage.  "Character is not about intelligence - it's about making the right choices."

"You cannot manage others if you don't learn to manage yourself" is a concept that Maxwell reiterates throughout the book -- including a full chapter on Self-Discipline.  From self-discipline, you can establish consistency, live according to your values and demonstrate that you are trustworthy to others -- and this increases your ability to lead others.

Courage is necessary to back up self-discipline -- so that you can make the right decisions in the face of fear, doubt or fatigue, or even pressure from those around you.  Maxwell repeats throughout that developing character requires learning from and accepting your failures and drawing strength from your weaknesses (or "shadow self"). 

Maxwell repeatedly stresses utility -- it's no good learning about things if you don't put them to use and actually learn from them.  This is the only way you can learn and get on the path of continual personal growth.  People always feel awkward doing things differently -- he's got a great story about Wilt Chamberlin experimenting (successfully) with a different way to shoot baskets from the free throw line but giving up on it because he felt it looked silly!

Without calling it "change management" - he talks a bit about the subject, and stresses that people may feel alone when there are changes required of them, and it's best to look at it as a process rather than event and to allow time for people to adapt and accept the need for the change:  Slow down, make the communication clear & simple, build in time for people to process & accept, then head into action to implement the change.

He recommends the "PLAN AHEAD" acronym which goes as follows:

Predetermine the change
Lay out steps
Adjust priorities
Notify your team

Allow time for acceptance
Head into action
Expect problems
Always point to successes
Daily review of progress

That's a really concise change management plan!

Problem solving is another key skill for leaders -- it's important to always believe there is a solution, and to self-manage so that you don't increase the magnitude of problems that need to be fixed (see also self-discipline/awareness and prioritization).  Ask lots of questions to solve problems and learn to identify potential problems in advance ("Stitch in time, saves nine!").  He recommends creating a framework for solving problems and emphasizes the value of shared problem solving -- asking other others to gain their perspective (ie, "the Socratic method").

Always socialize the ideas to get feedback from the team -- and come up with more than one solution to any problem.  Problem solving is often an evolutionary process that requires iterations and input to see incremental change.  Finally, always look for lessons in problems -- leaders can learn about themselves and their teams from the way they handle problems.

The chapter on "Attitude" continues to reiterate concepts presented earlier about being proactive, engaged and having a plan.  There's a bit of sermonizing about "kids these days" but it's a minor kvetch about nanny government that the author compensates for with a great anecdote about beating procrastination that aligns with much modern neuroplasticity research.  Maxwell saw W. Clement Stone speak in 1967, who advised the audience to follow this regimen:  for 30 days, repeat "Do it" before going to sleep and when waking up.  

This kind of positive affirmation works for many people seeking to change some habit -- I love the idea of fixing procrastination like this.  Other self-help fixes for attitude include expressing gratitude on a regular basis, especially in the face of adversity; quit whining - be proactive; learn from your mistakes and always seek to improve.  

The "Serving Others" chapter encapsulates information shared earlier in the book -- essentially, don't rely on your position or title.  Leaders have to work to connect with people, and serve them by taking an interest and developing them -- and they will reciprocate by following the leader's vision.  Always be asking questions and try to see things from others' perspective -- especially how they see you, or your vision.  Create a safe environment -- and measure your success not by "production" but by how you develop others.

As a leader, it's important to develop your vision -- share it with others and constantly refine that vision.  Equally important is spending time with people who inspire you - and always be paying attention to opportunities and lessons from what you have tried:  "Test -> Fail -> Learn -> Improve -> Reenter".

The final chapter on "Self-Discipline" repeats a lot of content from "Character" - but it's a pretty good pep talk that could stand on its own as an article with lots of positive, self-loving encouragement to focus on doing the right thing over and over for continued success.  The author connects again with self-awareness and focusing on one's strengths to see the best results.   Self-discipline allows you to build new habits based on decisions rather than convenience or emotion -- and it's the first step to being able to help others change their habits and thinking as well.

Maxwell again brings up environment as a critical factor for self-discipline -- surround yourself with people and situations that reinforce your decisions.  If you want to get into shape - you hang out with people at the gym or hiking trail, not smokers who just want to "Netflix and chill" - same goes for leadership.  Spend time with people who have positive attitudes and who are engaged in finding solutions instead of excuses.

He also encourages the reader to prioritize and focus -- and to rethink things so to spend more time on activities that are aligned with personal strengths and passions:
"Quit something you don't do well to do something you do well
Quit something you're not passionate about to do something that fills you with passion.
Quite something that doesn't make a difference to do something that does, and
Quit something that's not your dream to do something that is."

Life is short -- you can always reframe what you're doing to see it as fitting into your passion or life's purpose but really -- don't hit your head against the wall.  If you can identify something that you are good at and love to do -- that's going to make you happier and offer more opportunities to serve others as a leader.

You have to start somewhere -- and create a plan for incremental change and growth.  Maxwell emphasizes the need to focus on personal growth daily -- so much of what he advocates is contrary to the goals of modern society which wants to capture your "eyeballs" and empty your pocketbook.  

Maxwell practices what he preaches -- he's consistent -- and his message is strong and he reiterates key principles throughout the book.   You could pick a single chapter and read it as a stand-alone and because of the thorough reiteration of principles, you would still find some inspiration and value in the chapter.

The book has a little bit of fluff -- there are a lot of repeats of stories of his youthful experiences as a leader and what happened to his first big congregation when he left (it collapsed), and a few other bits of random like a list of light bulb jokes that doesn't really add much.  The book would be shorter but stronger if it focused specifically on the topics and exercises (some of which are really great!).



Quotes:
"Character makes you bigger on the inside than the outside" 

"How far you can travel isn't the point; it's how far you are able to take your people. That's the purpose of leadership."

"Priorities never stay put."

"Self-discipline moves you from good intentions to good actions. That is what separates words and ideas from actual results."

"Self-discipline always needs fuel. The strongest fuel comes from inspiration and motivation, which are usually connected with your strengths. What you do well usually inspires you and others. And motivation is a by-product of your passion. If you love to do something, you're almost always motivated to do it." (p199)


Exercises include:
- Pick two people you want to influence, figure out which level of leadership you are currently at with that person and focus on using the guidelines at the end of Chapter 1 to begin earning the level above  your current one and to strengthen your influencer at lower levels.
- Develop the prioritizer within you by answering the 5 key questions, and then think about the people on your team in a very analytical way (there's a spreadsheet) with their names and impact to the team, and a second worksheet on how you can develop those people.  The "three Rs worksheet" also looks promising.
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I had bought 12 Developing the Leader Within books many years ago and when I would meet people who talked about wanting to become a Leader or even how to Lead themselves better, this was the book I would pull from the shelves and give them a copy to read and then follow-up with the questions/activities over lunch with them.

This book is powerful for identifying how to lead, what leadership is, what this journey will take and give to you and its done so in the Maxwell way of making it easy to digest and powerful to grasp.  2.0 updates the original content with more lessons from Maxwell and his readers. Am going to buy more copies to keep around and continue to help others develop their leadership.
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I was able to read Developing the Leader within you 2.0 for free from Netgalley, the publisher and the author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 
I did not read version 1.0 but I know that John Maxwell presents new leadership insights with having over 50 years of leadership experience.
The one thing I will remember from this book is to keep asking myself "How far can I go?".  This question reminds you that success is a journey and we will continue to grow.  The book has excellent advice and it will have everyone focusing more on success and their future.
Recommend it to everyone who wants to have their own business and start their own business.
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Indeed this new edition of Developing the Leader Within You is much better compared to the previous one. As someone who continuously growing, John Maxwell presents new leadership insights given his 50 plus years of leadership experience.

One of the best ideas that resonated with me is about growth. Leaders continue to grow. I like the concept of asking yourself “How far can I go?” This question reflects the idea that success is not a destination but rather a journey. As long as we are living, we never stop growing.

Moreover, this book made me feel the humility of John in the face of success he attain internationally.
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An absolute must read for anyone looking to successfully navigate the changing landscape of today’s economy with its emphasis on building your own brand, side businesses, and selling your services.
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One of the best books I've ever read on leadership!  I have pages and pages of notes and quotes... I could not put it down.  I'm grateful that this book gave me a giant boost of personal growth and ideas to focus on in the future.  I've already tweaked several things for the week ahead as a result of reading this book 
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Enjoyable book with excellent advice. Highly recommend it.
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