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5 Key Learnings from Developing the Leader within You by John C. Maxwell

Hey Everyone, Hope you are doing great and staying safe!

Welcome back to my blog, where we talk about few thought-provoking books and distil it down to the best ideas that we can apply in our life. This weekend thought of re-opening my creative side relishing through some of the classics. On the occasion of Father’s Day, I want to write this review exclusively on one my dad’s favourite books! My dad’s bookshelf was my favourite spot, especially after the exams used to get over, gushing on massive length and breadth of magnificent reads. He served more than three decades in Indian Airforce and always had a knack for good books. Although his genre of books differs from mine, but I really love how Dad used to tell me about his learnings, work and experience. He loves to read about History and Methodology while I like books that are focused on productivity, development and innovation. Nevertheless, there are few books which is a common intersection for both us and will remain a constant source of inspiration. That is why “Developing a Leader Within You” will always remain close to my heart as well as it is great book to review!

Developing a Leader Within You written by phenomenal speaker and author John Maxwell. He is well-known for his powerful leadership trainings in business and armed forces. In this book John sheds lights on the core essence of leadership and what it takes to motivate, inspire as well as influence people. It is a must read for anyone who is in the leadership position or aspire to become a great leader! This book dates back to 1993 however, the learning from the book as well as the concepts John talks about are relevant till date. I go back to this book constantly whenever I find myself in a pickle and somehow, I always find my answers! Unpacking top five learning from the book “Developing a Leader Within You” by John Maxwell.

Learning 1 – Levels of Leadership

There are 5 different levels in leadership implying so get to lead through position, while others through actions or perhaps both! In order to become a great leader, one need to comprehend these 5 levels and what it takes to advance to next level. Leaders aren’t always people who have lot of followers but also those who can empower others to harness the hidden potential. In the golden words of John Maxwell, “Leadership is not about title or positions. It is more about one life influencing another”

Let’s dive into the 5 levels to deciphers the leader within you

  1. Position Based Leadership -It is the basic or the initial level in leadership which comes through Position. Its is a good place to begin the leadership journey but it is a terrible place to stay! In this scenario, people follow because they have to!

  2. Permission Based Leadership – It is more about how you connect with others, develop relationships and work to earn confidence. For instance, when you work in a cross-functional team encompassing members who are best in Sales, R&D and Services there is a certain level of rapport that is developed not because of position you have but perhaps the merit you bring to the table. How many initiatives you can successfully bring together is an example of influence. People like to work together because of one’ contribution and knowledge.

  3. Production – Third level of leadership revolves around people who have inspired others through their action towards building the business as well as the organisation.

  4. People Development – Fourth level of leadership evaluates and groom people. Identifying the strengths and capitalising on the potential of people, giving them opportunities and motivating them to push through the given set of challenges

  5. Pinnacle- The ultimate level of leadership, when people follow you because of what you represent and who you are

I am curious to know, which level of leadership you think is reflected through your actions? Well, higher you go, more are the trade-offs, demanding higher commitment and time. John recommends to consistently work on oneself in order to enhance the level of leadership and ensure long-term growth of organization. Level 5 is very rare and reserved for leaders who walk the talk! In my life, I am fortunate to meet such phenomenal leaders who are larger than life and empower people. Even if they are occupied with so many aspects of business, they ensure to drop a voice messages and lighten up my day! However, Level 4 leadership is very important because it empowers people and build a strong succession to tackle the upcoming changes.

Learning 2 – Priorities

I know it might sound like common sense, but hang on, stay with me! Many people can throw the words like efficiency and effectiveness perhaps thinking one needs to do both! However, higher one goes as a leader more one needs to prioritize effectiveness over efficiency. John says selecting both effectiveness and efficiency is ineffective as one might be mediocre in both applying 50% of time in both. What he implies is to apply the Pareto Principle that states 80% of the effects urges from the 20% of the causes. If you get the chance to lay hands on The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, this is a similar theme explained by Stephen Covey explained with the Eisenhower Matrix. In this book as well, we see the application of this Eisenhower Matrix however this time it touches the aspect of profession vs the career goals, helping us identify the task which are actually a priority and applying deadlines to achieve the targets.

Learning 3 – Developing Change

This revolves around the fact that change is essential for growth! As they say, “You either change or die”. However, majority of time people wait for a crisis to compel them or perhaps entire organisation to change rather than proactively working on embracing the change! Indeed, bringing change can be frightening since it means to travel on the uncharted waters that can emerge certain insecurities to rise. But, does it mean one should marry the compliancy and provide substandard performance? I am just think about it! This is one of the major reason why people are comfortable with old problems rather than focusing on new solutions. Perhaps, people are happy the way and where they are rather than put in efforts that can disrupt the routines to create massive efficiencies. If you one wants to be relevant, then it is imperative to bring disruptions and embrace the change!

Learning 4 – Problem Solving

Isn’t it natural to observe, majority of people don’t like problems? However, problems are necessary for us. I would like to explain it for analogy of the fearless and tenacious Eagles. The only obstacle for the eagle is to fly with greater speed and only ease is the air. But, if there is no air, eagle wouldn’t be able to fly in a vacuum! The factor which makes it hard to fly is also the what allows eagle to fly. Our problems and challenges encourage us to grow. As a leader one need to take up problems rather than avoiding it or putting it under the rug! However, there is a catch, leader need to prioritize which problem to focus and what to delegate. A leader is not called great because she/he is able to firefight all problems rather they are called great because the enable their team to solve the problems! Delegation is crucial for larger success of the organisation and should be based on strengths of team members; hence it is pivotal to know the strengths of your team and capitalise on them in order to produce effective solution of problems. In the golden words of Eisenhower, “You will not find easy problems to come to the President of United States, if they are asking to solve, somebody else has to solve them”. Essence of great leaders lies in finding capable people from the crowd and capitalise their potential to solve problems instead of getting into firefighting everything.

Learning 5: People

We all hear majority of organisations going ga-ga about people, however, not many leaders know how to treat their people! Well, Google is one of the best because of its people and leaders who develop those people! As a leader, one needs to channelize the strength of members and help them harness their true potential. One such example is leveraging reward and recognitions programs in your organisation. Indeed, such initiatives can be very powerful or perhaps very damaging. People are generally motivated, the secret sauce is to create an environment where people are able to contribute their best and feel safe to innovate!


All the learning and big ideas are useless if one don’t commit to it! Take few minutes and think about people you can inspire through your values and empower them through your actions. Personally, I have made my action plan to get my priorities straight applying the 80/20 rule ensuring everything is delivered before the deadline. Make time to invest in yourself and people so that more problems get solved rather than accumulating and then solving. This will make you more effective in your actions. It is a classic book to grab this weekend and develop the leader with you!


Maxwell, J. C. (1993). Developing the leader within you. Nashville: T. Nelson.


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Stronger Together!

Hey there, I'm Parul, working in one of the Big 4s of consulting! 💼

By day, I'm decoding the business matrix, but by night, I transform into a book ninja, stealthily navigating the worlds crafted by the greatest authors📚✨


What's the secret sauce to my consulting wizardry, you ask? It's the lessons learned from the pages of both leadership meetings, strategies and bestselling novels 😉


I'm not just crunching numbers; I'm crunching captivating narratives 💖

Buckle up for insights that transcend industries and a blog where business acumen meets the magic of storytelling


#ConsultantLife #BusinessAndBooks 🌟

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