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Developing the Leader Within You

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In this repackaged bestseller John Maxwell examines the differences between leadership styles, outlines principles for inspiring, motivating, and influencing others. These principles can be used in any organization to foster integrity and self-discipline and bring a positive change. Developing the Leader Within You also allows readers to examine how to be effective in the highest calling of leadership by understanding the five characteristics that set "leader managers" apart from "run-of-the-mill managers." In this John Maxwell classic, he shows readers how to develop the vision, value, influence, and motivation required of successful leaders.

224 pages, Paperback

Published October 1, 2005

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About the author

John C. Maxwell

749 books4,950 followers
John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and INJOY Stewardship Services. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and audiences as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and ambassadors at the United Nations. A New York Times , Wall Street Journal , and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was named the World's Top Leadership Guru by Leadershipgurus.net. He was also one of only 25 authors and artists named to Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Three of his books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership , Developing the Leader Within You , and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold over a million copies.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 410 reviews
Profile Image for Christina.
41 reviews10 followers
September 16, 2011
a. The only influence you have comes with Title. People follow you because they have to.
i. The boss drives his workers; the leader coaches them
ii. The boss depends on authority; the leader on goodwill
iii. The boss says "I"; the leader "we"
iv. The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown
v. The boss knows how it is done: the leader shows how
vi. The boss says "Go"; the leader says "lets go"
2. Permission
a. This is the Relationship Level. Lead by interrelationships. The agenda is building solid lasting relationships. People follow you because they want to.
i. Make those who work for you more successful
ii. Include others in your journey
iii. Win Win or don't do it
iv. Deal wisely with difficult people
3. Production
a. This is the results Level. People are coming together to achieve a purpose. People follow you because of what you have done in the organization.
i. Develop a statement of purpose
ii. Develop accountability for results
iii. Know and do the things that have a high return
iv. Communicate the strategy and vision to the corporation
v. Become a change agent
4. People Development
a. Develop and empower your people. Develop your leaders. People follow you because of what you have done for them.
i. Place a priority on developing people
ii. Place your efforts in the top 20% of your people
5. Personhood
a. Takes a lifetime. People follow you because of respect and who you are.

Avoid the 7 deadly sins:
1. Trying to be liked rather than respected
2. Not asking members of the team for advice and help
3. Thwarting talent by emphasizing rules rather than skills
4. Not keeping criticism constructive
5. Not developing a sense of responsibility in team members
6. Treating everyone the same way
7. Failing to keep people informed
Profile Image for Omar Halabieh.
217 reviews62 followers
November 3, 2013
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "Leadership is developed, not discovered. The truly "born leader" will always emerge; but, to stay on top, natural leadership characteristics must be developed. In working with thousands of people desirous of becoming leaders, I have discovered they all fit in one of four categories or levels of leadership: The Leading Leader...The Learned Leader...The Latent Leader..The Limited Leader."

2- "Management is the process of assuring that the program and objectives of the organization are implemented. Leadership, on the other hand, has to do with casting vision and motivating people."

3- "Listed below are some characteristics that must be exhibited with excellence before advancement to the next level is possible: Level I: Position/Rights...Level 2: Permission/Relationship...Level 3; Production/Results..Level 4: People Development/Reproduction....Level 5: Personhood/Respect."

4- "Success can be defined as the progressive realization of a predetermined goal. This definition tells us that the discipline to prioritize and the ability to work toward a stated goal are essential to a leader's success. In fact, I believe they are the key to leadership."

5- "Integrity is not what we do so much as who we are. And who we are in turn, determines what we do. Our system of values is so much a part of us we cannot separate it from ourselves. It becomes the navigating system that guides us. It establishes priorities in our lives and judges what we will accept or reject."

6- "1. Integrity builds trust.2. Integrity has high influence value. 3. Integrity facilitates high standards. A. Integrity results in a solid reputation, Not just an image. 5. Integrity means living it MYSELF BEFORE LEADING OTHERS.6. Integrity helps a leader be credible, NOT JUST CLEVER. 7. Integrity is a hard-won achievement."

7- "The more you change, the more you become an instrument of change in the lives of others. If you want to become a change agent, you also must change."

8- "WHY PEOPLE RESIST CHANGE? The change isn't self-initiated...Routine is disrupted...Change creates fear of the unknown...The purpose of the change is unclear...Change creates fear of failure...The rewards for change don't match THE EFFORT CHANGE REQUIRES...People are too satisfied with the way things are...Change won't happen when people ENGAGE IN NEGATIVE THINKING...The followers lack respect for the leader...The leader is susceptible to feelings OF PERSONAL criticism...Change may mean personal loss...Change requires additional commitment...Narrow-mindedness thwarts acceptance of new ideas...Tradition resists change."

9- "People change when they hurt enough they have. to change; learn enough they want to change; receive enough they are able to change. The leader must recognize when people are in one of these three stages. In fact, top leaders create an atmosphere that causes one of these three things to occur."

10- "Great leaders understand that the right attitude will set the right atmosphere. which enables the right responses from others."

11- "My success in developing others will depend on how well I accomplish each of the following: Value of people: This is an issue of my attitude. Commitment to people: This is an issue of my time. Integrity with people: This is an issue of my character. Standard for people: This is an issue of my vision. Influence over people: This is an issue of my leadership."

12- "Successful people developers give THE RIGHT ASSISTANCE TO PEOPLE...I need to work out their strengths and work on their weaknesses...I must give them myself...I must give them ownership...I must give them every chance for success."

13- "My observation over the last twenty years has been that all effective leaders have a vision of what they must accomplish. That vision becomes the energy behind every effort and the force that pushes through all the problems. With vision, the leader is on a mission and a contagious spirit is felt among the crowd until others begin to rise alongside the leader. Unity is essential for the dream to be realized. Long hours of labor are given gladly to accomplish the goal. Individual rights are set aside because the whole is much more important than the part. Time flies. morale soars upward, heroic stories are told, and commitment is the watchword. Why? Because the leader has a vision!"

14- "The process for developing personal discipline...Start WITH YOURSELF...Start early...Start small...Start now...Organize your life...Welcome responsibility...Accept accountability...Develop Integrity...Pay now, play later...Become character driven instead of emotion driven."
Profile Image for Selena.
488 reviews309 followers
March 22, 2020
I received a free e-copy of Developing the Leader Within you by John C. Maxwell from NetGalley for my honest review.

A wonderful book for personal and professional development. A book to help develop the leader within yourself as well as learning to be a better leader.
Profile Image for John.
333 reviews4 followers
June 20, 2014
I feel great ambivalence towards this book. I was swept up by the first third of it. By the middle I was harboring some nagging doubts. By the end I was seriously irked.

Let me start out by saying that there is, in fact, a great deal of valuable content within these pages, and I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water. But it's a small baby in a big bath. The problem is not that Maxwell doesn't offer useful, pragmatic insights into leadership; he does. It's not that he doesn't support his assertions with relevant, frequently pithy quotations; he does. Where Maxwell stumbles is on numerous fundamental assumptions which underlie the initial desire to write a book such as this.

The central flaw which runs throughout this work is the implication that Maxwell's approach to leadership represents the singular correct approach. This assumption, in turn, gives birth to several others. Written, ostensibly, from a Christian perspective, I would suggest that Maxwell has lost sight of what is, arguably, one of the central and most fundamental passages in the New Testament, the Sermon on the Mount. What emerges from Maxwell's pen is a guidebook on how to most successfully conform to the things of this world, not how to love one another. In other words, he takes it as a given that the world view under which we all labor is without flaw, whereas the essence of the Christian ethic is that we live in a broken world which we are commissioned to improve upon selflessly, to the fullest extent possible.

Maxwell comes from a long line of similar thinkers who insist that anything other than "the power of positive thinking" is an affront to all that is good and noble in this world. This general philosophical bent describes a bee-line to such dubious schools of thought as the "prosperity gospel" and the "law of attraction," both of which certainly seem true to those who both believe in them and experience good luck. Maxwell would have us believe that luck is a fiction, which is a cruel requirement to foist upon one's fellow beings.

To take a few examples, Maxwell asserts that great leaders should hire only "the best" people. But who is to say who those best are? By what measure are we to judge? Well, apparently he would exclude anyone with so-called "personal problems." Yet I myself have yet to meet any human being who does not suffer from such problems. So, seemingly, Maxwell advocates the hiring of people who exist in a state of delusional denial. Or, perhaps, who are simply clever and convincing liars. It certainly makes the reader wonder what Maxwell's own closet contains.

Elsewhere he makes the point that, "Continued success is a result of continued improvement." This, of course, raises the question of how we define "success." Is it to be measured in terms of worldliness and material gain or in terms of how much good we bring to the meek, the weak, and the downtrodden, whether tangible or otherwise? But aside from that question, Maxwell posits something which is, in point of fact, an impossibility. Improvement is a form of growth and, as such, cannot be continual. No system can grow forever and at all times. When we exercise to build strength, we do not -- we cannot -- flex our muscles unremittingly. We must flex and then relax, flex and relax, flex and relax. Germination precedes growth and, more to the point, is absolutely, strictly necessary.

As to the strong implication, reiterated throughout this book, that a "positive attitude" is a prerequisite for living a successful, and, what's more, a morally acceptable, life, I would counter that this is not compatible with Christian teaching as found in the Bible. I know there are many, many Christians -- pastors and theologians among them -- who insist that the Bible supports this point of view, but I stand by my conviction. I would refer readers, particularly, to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, as well as countless passages throughout the book of Job. Jesus was plagued by doubts and sorrow at various points throughout the New Testament. And the Old Testament prophets, generally acknowledged as the harbingers of the coming Messiah, express so-called "negativity" and discontent over and over and over again. Let me be clear: I do not advocate a gloom-and-doom view of the world, but, rather, a balanced and realistic view which, I believe, is entirely in line with Christian teaching.

I could raise many more objections to Maxwell's work. It is poorly organized and vague in the extreme. For example, consider the titles of three of the ten chapters: "The Key to Leadership: Priorities," "The Most Important Ingredient of Leadership: Integrity," and "The Indispensable Quality of Leadership: Vision." It seems that the key, the most important ingredient, and the indispensable quality are all distinct, although I fail to understand how. Maxwell's text is frequently repetitive, too. In several instances passages are repeated, verbatim, in their entirety. His reliance on snarky quotations and anecdotes is at first amusing and sometimes insightful, but wears thin quickly. The result is a feeling that Maxwell has simply stirred together a huge collection of platitudes in more or less random sequence without adding much by way of his own original thought or giving us the benefit of his unique experiences in life. Finally, the veracity of the author himself is drawn into question when he asserts that, in addition to functioning as lead pastor to a large church and heading an organization devoted to educating leaders, he also, purportedly, makes 400 public appearances per year. The end pages list no less that 38 books he's written, which may provide more than a little insight into why this particular volume seems half-baked and perfunctory.

My best advice if you want to develop leadership skills? Put down the books, stop shelling out for seminars and summits, stop listening to the "experts," and do, do, do.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
November 2, 2020

This is an okay book on leadership. I think he wrote another one called 2.0 that might be more relevant to today, but it is a quick read and did have some good basic information for someone new to a leadership position. The quote above was my favorite of the book and my best take away.

I think this book has a lot of good suggestions and ideas to think about. I liked the list below the best since I thought it was the most relevant if you’ve recently shifted from a lower position into a management.
Avoid the 7 deadly sins:
1. Trying to be liked rather than respected
2. Not asking members of the team for advice and help
3. Thwarting talent by emphasizing rules rather than skills
4. Not keeping criticism constructive
5. Not developing a sense of responsibility in team members
6. Treating everyone the same way
7. Failing to keep people informed

Still overall many things throughout seemed more common sense than anything else. I don’t know if I agreed with the 20% of your people will do 80% of the work idea and those are the ones to cultivate. Maybe in a larger company but if you staff is ten people it seems a little outrageous that two of those people are doing most of the work.

I recommend listening to the audio as you get the meat of the book without all the little drawings. I do wish he had more first-hand examples, everything is this is very broad stroked without specific working examples.
148 reviews1 follower
April 10, 2013
"20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent of your production"

"Efficiency is the foundation for survival. Effectiveness is the foundation of success."

“Integrity binds our person together and fosters a spirit of contentment within us. It will not allow our lips to violate our hearts.”

“I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.” –John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

“Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are.”

“When you love your followers genuinely and correctly, they’ll respect and follow you through many changes”

“Human behavior studies show that people do not basically resist change; they resist ‘being changed.’”

“Once the facts are clear, the decisions jump out at you” – Peter Drucker

Simple plan to help a person change some wrong attitudes:
Say the right words,
Read the right books,
Listen to the right tapes,
Be with the right people,
Do the right things,
Pray the right prayer.

“The one who influences others to follow only is a leader with certain limitations. The one who influences others to lead others is a leader without limitations.”

On self-discipline: “The sooner they can take control of their desires and submit them to life’s demands, the more successful they will become.”
Profile Image for John Funderburg.
546 reviews1 follower
April 1, 2020
Good principles and takeaways here - especially for someone like me who is relatively new to leadership.
Profile Image for Aline.
473 reviews
August 11, 2019
I finished it and instantly started reading it from the beginning again!

It's not only for leaders, it's also helpful for navigating your everyday life with more purpose.
I especially liked the chapters about self-dicipline and priorities.
Profile Image for Pavel Annenkov.
438 reviews113 followers
January 31, 2018
Ничего нового, но зато всё важное про лидерство можно найти сразу в одной книге.
Здесь я также нашёл лучшее определение понятия «лидер».
"Лидер - это тот человек, который умеет приобретать себе последователей".
Profile Image for Alex Schmidt.
407 reviews21 followers
June 8, 2020
Such a great book! It’s a heavier read but so good especially if you are someone who leads others and wants them to be successful on their journey! I’m so inspired and can’t wait to read another of his books that I just got!
Profile Image for Deborah.
44 reviews
February 13, 2008
I thought I would follow my first addition to goodreads (Poisonwood Bible) with a review of the book that is currently making me roll my eyes and scribble snarky comments in the margins. Might as well hit both ends of the spectrum, for there is little to recommend this book. Maxwell has a great command of Reader's Digest-type anecdotes. Unfortunately, and no matter how witty, they rarely support his argument. In fact, *he* rarely supports his argument and, as one person I know put it, seems incapable of continuing the same argument through even one paragraph. He quotes, but never cites, pulls unsubstantiated statistics from thin air in attempts to prove a point. Worse, I feel for the women who work for him, whom he holds up as examples: they are featured as weepy or inept (until he shows them the way), always subordinate. But because his book is at least stimulating critical discussion at work and helping strengthen an esprit de corps, and because I strive to be a good citizen there, I will resist repeating any more of my marginalia here.
111 reviews4 followers
March 3, 2010
• This is actually the third time that I’ve read this particular book, and I’m sure that I will read it again in the future. This book is a must read for anyone who is in a position to influence people in any way. In my current job, my focus is to get people to see the value of the product my company sells and to effectively sell it for us. This book has reminded me of some of the most basic principles of influence that I may have forgotten. Because of the new context I bring to this reading of the book, I have also seen some new insights that will help me. The information about just how important being a good team member is will help me. Also, the reminder to recognize the top 20% and spend at least 80% of my time with them is particularly useful in the position I’m in. I think that more than anything one of the chapters towards the end where I’m challenged to look at the top 5 things I need to work on is most helpful to me. It is a good reminder not to get overwhelmed, but to take things one at a time.
257 reviews
March 22, 2015
What little original work is in this book, and I assure you it is very little, is elementary at best and naive, feel-good, peddling more of his work at worst. I cannot and would not recommend this to anyone.

The only reason I gave it two stars is because he at least used some valuable quotes from other people.
Profile Image for Nick.
706 reviews92 followers
May 26, 2011
Great book. Loads of practical material worth rereading and writing down. It is easy to read, and, while I know that some people complain that he uses a lot of illustrations and cites comics quite a bit, I think that these provide tangible material to remember and hold on to.
Profile Image for Steve Grotheer.
18 reviews
April 21, 2014
great, easy read touching on all the key fundamentals of successful leadership. Includes lots of great anecdotes and stories to support the recommendations.
Profile Image for Breanna.
44 reviews34 followers
February 10, 2016
Great! Worked through this as part of a 6 month class. Lots of steadfast basics but also some great unexpected points.
Profile Image for Chris Goyzueta.
6 reviews1 follower
December 18, 2016
Really enjoyed this book! Great book on leadership. I might get this as an audiobook for annual inspiration.
Profile Image for Adam.
852 reviews20 followers
December 27, 2018
This is like Brian Tracy’s first book, it’s all the best information put into the most simple, straightforward manner, put very clearly. I’m really glad I read this. It had a number of things I want to go back to. Much of it is very obvious, but he has points to reflect on and develop, too, so very useful.
Profile Image for Allison.
46 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2023
This was a recommendation and I was pleasantly surprised with it! It covered insight on a range of topics and made me think about my perspective on them
13 reviews1 follower
December 5, 2020
Every leader needs to read this book (especially in the first 10 years of their leadership life) and apply it to their skills.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
1 review
August 17, 2015
This was a tough one for me to get through. It's essentially 200 pages of business clichés, parables and anecdotes, peppered with helpful and useful information and heavy doses of straight-up common sense.

There's some interesting workbook-style things to do, graphs, charts, and pretty poems. I did appreciate the call-outs on most of the pages to help tie it all back together, as some of the parables can start to ramble and you start to lose the core concept behind the story.

I'd still be likely to grab a copy and keep it on my shelf for one reason: it does give a pretty nice roadmap to becoming a better leader if you can make it through the eye-rollingly cheesy bits. Hence, I added a star because I'd still recommend it, but, don't expect anything eye-opening or life-changing at the end.
Profile Image for Matthew.
312 reviews16 followers
October 13, 2022
It's been almost 20 years since I read this book, so I figured it was time to revisit this classic. I did, and I was pleased to see that I had incorporated many of the ideas found within, and yet also challenged to continue to work hard at self-leadership.

Some of the quotes that I loved from this book are...

"Leadership is influence"

"He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk"

"A leader is great, not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others."

"The good is the enemy of the best"

"You will only become what you are becoming right now"
Profile Image for Nick.
327 reviews31 followers
June 10, 2016
An excellent guide for self development of leadership and your staff. John C. Maxwell's years of leadership experience have allowed him to distill salient leadership traits and methods for development into this very straight forward and easy to follow manual. A great read for leaders new and old. I really appreciate his focus on the people and the leader as a servant to success. His chapters on self discipline and staff development are the key to becoming a successful leader. In my opinion this should be considered as one of the standard text books used to mentor new leaders within an organization.
Profile Image for Mihai  Chindris.
46 reviews78 followers
October 19, 2018
It's, truly, an inspirational and motivational book which can shift perspectives and drive change. John C. Maxwell is the king of leadership, shaping beginners in the art of leading people. Leadership is the supreme management, and it would be adequate to learn it from the best. Here comes Maxwell, who can offer cutting-edge information on this topic, giving you all that's necessary to become more than a manager, and by this, I mean a leader.
Profile Image for Karol Cordero.
67 reviews12 followers
August 2, 2015
Buen libro para aprender temas de liderazgo. Me gusta de Maxwell toca todos los temas alrededor de lo que se puede encontrar un líder en una organización y propone formas de abordar dichos temas. Sugiere ideas que son prácticas y sus recomendaciones con ejemplos y frases de otras personas, te ayudan a interiorizar las ideas. Me gustó mucho y espero poder ponerlo en práctica.
Profile Image for Kelly Murray.
59 reviews53 followers
September 1, 2009
Though leadership isn't a quality I think I naturally possess, who says it can't be developed? Good stuff. People can't follow someone who doesn't know where they're going, and this book helps clarify what one needs to do in order to manage one's self first before taking on others.
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