By John Maxwell
1. If it’s Lonely at the Top, you’re Probably not Leading Right.
Many think it’s lonely in leadership, but you don’t have to be alone.
It is worth taking the risk to let people get close to you and you getting close to them.
Take time it walks slowly through the crowd.
You may get hurt, but getting close to people will allow you to help them and them to help you.
Build people and help people and by doing so you will become better. You have to get close to people.
The best leaders know that leading people requires loving them.
No one has ever succeeded by working alone.
Let people work with you not for you.
Loneliness is a choice!
2. The Toughest Person to Lead is Yourself.
Leading yourself is and will be your greatest challenge as a leader.
Leaders that have never followed well are not good leaders. Leaders must understand their people.
Leaders who have failed or fallen usually think that it could/would never have happened to them.
Leading yourself well means that you hold yourself to a higher accountability then you do others.
The biggest crowd you will ever lead is yourself. If you cannot lead yourself well, you will never be able to lead others well!
3. Defining Moments Define your Leadership.
How you handle critical moments in your life will determine how you live life and where you make it in leadership.
Defining moment show us who we really are.
Most days are all the same, but critical moments in life define who we really are.
Defining moments define who we are to ourselves as well as define who we are to others around us.
Our character is not made during critical times it is displayed.
These defining moments will show others around you who you really are. If handled correctly, you can be lift you up in others eyes but if not you can be destroyed in the eyes of others.
When leaders respond correctly to defining moments, everyone wins; when leaders respond poorly, everybody loses.
Defining moments not only tell us who we are, but they determine who we will become. You are never the same after a defining moment.
The defining moments are like intersections in your life, you have to choose in which direction you will go once you arrive to them.
You cannot control when defining moments will come, but you can control how to prepare for them and how will respond to them.
4. When you get Kicked in the Rear, you know you are at the Front of the Race.
When you are out front and ahead of the crowd, everything you do attracts attention.
When someone criticizes you, you must determine if it is constructive or destructive criticism – if it is to help you or hurt you. You can become a better person because of it.
The source of criticism matters. How was the criticism given? Remember that hurting people hurt people, so if it was given out of anger, it may be just to hurt you. But if it was given for your benefit, that criticism could help you.
People can change for the better with the right attitude. When criticism comes, have the right attitude!
Don’t be defensive and decide to look for the seed of benefit in the criticism.
5. Never Work a Day in your Life.
If you love what you do, you really don’t have to consider it work.
Thomas Edison said that he never worked a day in his life, it was all fun.
Passion will keep you going when other things try to put you down. Passion is contagious to others and pushes you yourself. Passion will energize you and ways you did not know.
Talent is never enough to help you reach your potential. Opportunities may open the door, but they are not enough to make you successful. Knowledge can be a great aspect but it will not make you all you can be. You must have passion.
Passion is what the team needs to succeed. Passion is a difference maker.
Passion will help you believe things you could not believe, feel things that you could not feel, meet people you would not have met, motivate people you would not have motivated, dream things you could not have dreamt, and lead people you would not have led.
6. The Best Leaders are Listeners.
Many listeners talk more than they listen and this is a big mistake.
Let others be the advice givers, just listen.
Look and listen when people are talking, it will make a big difference.
To be an effective listener, you need to listen to what others will tell you not only what you want to hear.
A deaf ear is the first symptom of a closed mind – and this is detrimental in leadership.
You can be a leader without being a listener, but you can’t be a good leader without being a listener.
7. Get in the Zone and Stay there.
Find out what you do well and keep doing it.
You will discover your purpose by finding what your potential
Don’t ask what you do right, ask what you do well and do that.
Good leaders find their strength zone, but they also help others find their strength zone. Do so by getting to know them, by watching what they are good at and by communicating to others to find their strengths.
Working on your strength in a weak area is more profitable than working on your weakness to become stronger.
8. A Leaders first Responsibility is to find Reality.
Reality is the foundation for positive change.
Cast an eye on reality.
Admit your weakness – you can’t define reality if you don’t face it
Embrace realistic people – you need people who will help you in your weak spots.
Most leaders don’t want to hear the truth or face reality
Invite fresh eyes to check out what you are doing.
Good leaders face reality and change things.
9. To see how the Leader is doing, Look at those Around him.
If you want to analyze your leadership, ask the following 4 questions:
- Are the people following – leaders go somewhere and can get others to follow them.
- Are the people changing – progress does not improve without change. Courageous leaders have to cease the opportunity and change for the best. Leaders are agents of change.
- Are the people growing – a good leader helps people with more than their job; they help them in all areas of their lives. Growing leaders make growing organizations.
- Are the people succeeding – a leader may impress people when they are succeeding, but the real test is if their people are succeeding. To see how a leader is doing, look at his people.
10. Don’t send your Ducks to Eagle School.
We want everyone to learn and get better, but not everyone will learn and grow.
Some people are motivated and some are not.
Someone may say that they become a millionaire by reading a certain book – you may think that everyone will run to go buy it but they don’t. What a mystery!
If you send ducks to eagle school, you will only frustrate the ducks – who they are is who they should be, don’t try to change them.
Leadership is about placing the right people in the right spot.
All people have strengths, but they may be in different areas than that of others.
People should get out of their comfort zone but not out of their strength zone.
If you send ducks to eagle school, you will frustrate the ducks, both the eagles and yourself.
You cannot put into someone something that God has left out.
11. Keep your Mind on the Main thing.
Learning how to keep your mind on the main thing is one of the most important things a leader can do.
Determine not to know everything – you don’t have to know everything if you know others who do know about those details. If you are leader, get an assistant.
Determine to not know everything first – let others solve problems instead of you having to know and fix it.
Let someone else represent you, you don’t have to be involved in everything.
Stay with your strengths and let others take care of your weaknesses.
Simplify things in your life. You can’t do everything; sometimes you have to say no.
12. Your Biggest Mistake is not Asking what your Mistake is.
Everyone makes mistakes but not admitting it will hurt you.
Admit your mistakes and weaknesses with others. People know your weaknesses so quit lying to yourself and to them, just admit it.
Accept mistakes as part of progress. Don’t beat yourself up, just realize it and do better the next time.
Learn from your mistakes
Ask others what you are missing.
The best leaders invite others to give opinions
Let people give pushback and ask hard questions.
13. Don’t Manage your Time Manage your Life.
Everyone gets the same amount of time but not everyone gets same amount out of the time.
Time management is an oxy moron because you can’t manage time; you can’t get more even if you wanted to or tried. So instead of managing time, manage yourself.
Those who manage themselves poorly also struggle in every other area of life.
If you want to make the most of your time, improve yourself.
14. Keep Learning to keep Leading.
People do not reach their potential on accident.
The secret to success is in your daily agenda; if you do something every day to learn and grow, you will learn and grow.
If you want to continue leading, you have to continue growing.
The great danger in life is thinking that you have arrived.
The people around you will greatly determine your success. Being around the right people will stretch and better you. Great people bring out the greatness of others.
15. Leaders Distinguish themselves in Tough Times.
Every change, crisis and challenge requires decisions to be made… and this is what makes you.
A tough call requires risk. If you are not willing to take a risk, you are not worthy to be a leader.
The test of courage is not the big things but the small things that frequently happen in life.
A tough time will make or break you… they are crucial for a leader.
Be willing to do all of the small things and you will be ready for the big things.
A real leader is made in the tough times.
16. People Quit People, not Companies.
People follow you only if they want to – people leave a place all of the time.
As leaders, we would like to think that people don’t leave because of us, but that is not true.
It is said that 65% of people leave a company because of their managers.
The company doesn’t do anything negative, the people in the company do. Sometimes they will leave because of coworkers but a large majority quit because of the leader.
People quit people that:
- That devalue them – most don’t receive thanks at work, in fact they feel devalued and unappreciated. When leaders devalue people, they begin to lord over them and treat them like objects instead of like people. The solution is to find value in others and praise them for their contribution. Find something to thank them for and they will be thankful to you for it.
- That are untrustworthy – people lost trust by acting inconsistent in what they say or do, withholding information, and lying or telling half-truths. When trust has been lost it’s like breaking a mirror: you can glue it back together but it will always show the marks. But you can keep the trust of others by showing respect, focusing on shared goals, doing the right thing even if it’s hard and by maintaining integrity.
- That are incompetent – if a leader does not have skill, they will not know what to do. An incompetent leader cannot lead competent people very long. People naturally follow leaders that are stronger than them.
- That are insecure – leaders can value others, be trustworthy and competent, but if they are insecure, others will soon leave them. Insecure leaders are always worried others will take their job, etc. A secure leader will help others and work himself out of a job. An insecure leader doesn’t want others to succeed without their help and tries to maintain authority.
If you want to help a company keep its people than become a better leader yourself.
17. Experience is not the Best Teacher.
Some people learn and grow by their experience but others do not.
When we start out, we are like an empty notebook. But the problem is that some people do not fill out every page and therefore do not gain much. But it is not just the filling out of the notebook but the looking back over it and reflecting on it.
Experience teaches nothing but evaluated experience teaches a lot.
Some people can live 25 years but instead of gaining 25 years of experience they only gain 1 year of experience 25 times.
Lack of experience could be bad but so could experience without learning from it.
Don’t just learn something from every experience but learn something positive from every experience.
People that reflect on the experience, evaluate it and learn from it are rare… but when you meet one, you will know it.
18. The Secret to a Good Meeting is the Meeting Before the Meeting.
Meetings usually fail for two reasons:
- Because the leader does not have an agenda
- Because other people in the meeting have their own agenda
So have a meeting before the meeting to think thru and go over what is going to happen.
You have to prepare people for the information you are going to give them. Most people don’t like surprises (unless it’s a birthday party) so prepare them for what is going to happen.
Find especially the vocal and influential people and talk to them before the meeting takes place. Don’t have secrets and surprises from certain people.
Cultivate trust with people by answering questions and letting them know what’s going on.
Board meetings can be successful because of the pre-board meeting.
All ends well that begins well
You don’t have to clean up a mess afterwards if you prepare for it beforehand.
19. Be a Connector not just a Climber.
Leaders are wired to climb and this is fine, but you must climb as you connect with people.
If you play king of the hill and try to climb over others, you will lose and make those you climb over mad.
You may have the rights to a position but if you don’t have the relationships, you are in trouble.
It is more about the people than it is the position.
People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Moving up is very important for climbers but in reality connecting is much more important.
Climbers are more concerned about their image but connectors are concerned with those around them.
Climbers run alone but connectors take others along.
Competence is not the greatest detriment to a leader it is relationships.
If you climb without connecting, you may get a position but you will not accomplish as much.
20. The Choices you make will Make You.
Successful leaders make decisions early on and manage them daily.
Our greatest power in life may be our power to choose.
The choice you make will make you.
We don’t always get what we want, but we do get what we choose.
If you want to know who someone is, look at the choices he/she makes.
Choices you make will make your family and affect others.
Once you choose, you have to live with the consequences.
Learn to set a higher standard for yourself than you do for others.
Choose to help people instead of just making them happy.
Choose to live right even with critics.
Choose to focus on the present, not the past or future.
21. Influence should be Loaned but never Given.
It takes a leader to raise up another leader – they loan influence to them and give credibility.
But giving your influence to people who will not use it right is not a good use of your time and influence.
Influence should never be given it should only be loaned to those interested.
Just as a bank will qualify the people who they will give a loan to, you should do the same. Make sure they are going to use it, they are worth it, and that it will be a good investment for you to spend time and influence.
22. For everything you Gain, you Give up Something.
Anything we get in life, we pay for, just a matter of time. So what are you giving up in order to gain?
Tradeoffs that are worth accomplishing:
- Trade Affirmation for Accomplishment
- Trade Security for Significance – success is not just being busy. You have to risk sometimes. Great people gave their life for things of significance.
- Trade Financial gain for Future Potential – temptation is to go for money, but shoot for future potential.
- Trade Immediate Pleasure for Personal Growth – our culture has a problem with denying immediate gratification.
- Trade Exportation for Focus – the older you are, the more focused you should become. Once you know what you are to do, do it.
- Trade Quantity of life for Quality of life
- Trade Acceptable for Excellence – leaders cannot rise up on the wings of mediocrity.
- Trade Addition for Multiplication – leaders who develop leaders will multiply their potential. Every great leader is a leader of leaders.
- Trade the 1st half for the 2nd half – it’s easier to just stay with what is easier, but be willing to trade it.
- Trade your Work for God for your Walk with God – your work cannot make up for your relationship with God.
23. Those who Start the Journey with You seldom Finish with You.
It’s fun to do things with a team, but not everyone will finish the race with you.
Those closest to you will not always be close to you – this is a hard fact about leadership.
Don’t wait for people you should not wait for
Don’t feel guilty for losing someone – if you always lose people, that’s not good but people will leave along the way. You can’t force people to stay so bless them as they go.
Don’t think you have to keep everyone. Ask people before they think about leaving so you’ll know when they leave and be prepared for it.
Learn to appreciate those that are with you even if they are only there for a short season.
24. Few Leaders are Successful unless a lot of People want them to be.
It takes a lot of people to have success.
We all know of great leaders but there were people who helped them get to where they are.
We have mentors and supporters in life.
There are team players, creative thinkers, people developers, those who make you expand your thoughts, encouragers and so much more.
Followers are needed for success but good followers are needed for big success.
People appreciate leaders who appreciate them.
25. You only get Answers to the Questions you Ask.
Learn to ask questions.
Successful people as good questions
Are you investing in yourself? Good leaders invest in themselves. Learn more and you can lead more.
Are you interested in helping people?
Are you doing what you love? You will never be successful doing what you don’t like. Passion is the core at being successful. Love what you do.
Are you investing your time with the right people? People can usually trace your successes and failures to the people that influenced you.
Are you taking others to a higher level? Are those under you getting better or worse? Add value to others, this is the only reason you are to be leading them.
Are you taking care of today? The secret of your success is in your daily agenda. You will never change your life until you change something you are doing today?
Are you taking the time to think? Leaders are usually action oriented, but you must have time to stop and think. Have a place where you think. Have a process for thinking. Have people that help you think.
Are you developing other leaders? If you want a leader to be a success, you cannot just lead followers but you have to lead leaders.
Are you pleasing God?
If you don’t ask questions, you will never grow. You have already retired if you quit asking questions.
26. People will Summarize your Life in One Sentence… Pick it Now.
Our lives will end some day and what will our legacy be?
Our legacy, what we will be remembered by, could be intentional or unintentional. Choose your legacy by defining your life.
Most people don’t lead their lives, they just live them… but you don’t have to do that.
How you live each day will add up your legacy.
You don’t decide how you’ll die but you can decide how you’ll live.