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THE MAXWELL DAILY READER365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You
By JOHN C. MAXWELL
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 John C. Maxwell
All right reserved.
1. Take Care of the Little Things
2. The Instrument of Leadership
4. You Are Your Lens
5. Put People in Their (Right) Place
6. Character Is Everything
7. The Law of Influence
8. Point Out People's Strengths
9. The Power of Focusing
10. Charting the Course
11. The Law of Priorities
12. People Need to Know They Helped
13. Control What's In You
14. Leaders See Within the Larger Context
15. Be Impressed, Not Impressive
16. Manage Your Attitude Daily
17. The Law of Connection
18. Take Time to Understand People
19. The 30-Second Rule
20. Develop Relationships Before Starting Out
21. The Value of Time
22. Enlarging Others
23. Overcoming Barriers to Empowerment
24. Leaders Cannot Rise above the Limitations of Their Character
26. Everyone Influences Someone
27. The Heart of Leadership
28. Act Yourself into Changing
29. Let People Know You Need Them
30. Steer a Course
31. Growing to Your Potential
TAKE CARE OF THE LITTLE THINGS
When I teach at a conference or go to a book signing, people sometimes confide in me that they desire to write books too. "How do I get started?" they ask.
"How much writing do you do now?" I ask in return.
Some tell me about articles and other pieces they are writing, and I simply encourage them; but most of the time they sheepishly respond, "Well, I haven't really written anything yet."
"Then you need to start writing," I explain. "You've got to start small and work up to it."
Leadership is the same. You've got to start small and work up to it. A person who has never led before needs to try to influence one other person. Someone who has some influence should try to build a team. Just start with what's necessary.
St. Francis of Assisi said, "Start doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." All good leadership begins where you are. It was Napoleon who said, "The only conquests which are permanent and leave no regrets are our conquests over ourselves." The small responsibilities you have before you now comprise the first great leadership conquest you must make. Don't try to conquer the world until you've taken care of things in your own backyard.
—The 360° Leader
What one small, specific leadership step can you take today?
THE INSTRUMENT OF LEADERSHIP
John W. Gardner observed, "If I had to name a single all-purpose instrument of leadership, it would be communication." Perhaps you are familiar with my books on leadership; then you know that I believe everything rises and falls on leadership. What I haven't mentioned before is that leadership rises and falls on communication.
If you lead your team, give yourself these standards to live by as you communicate to your people:
1. Be consistent. Nothing frustrates team members more than leaders who can't make up their minds. One of the things that won the team over to Gordon Bethune when he was at Continental was the consistency of his communication. His employees always knew they could depend on him and what he said.
2. Be clear. Your team cannot execute if the members don't know what you want. Don't try to dazzle anyone with your intelligence; impress people with your straightforwardness.
3. Be courteous. Everyone deserves to be shown respect, no matter what the position or what kind of history you might have with him. By being courteous to your people, you set the tone for the entire organization.
Never forget that because you are the leader, your communication sets the tone for the interaction among your people. Teams always reflect their leaders. And never forget that good communication is never one-way. It should not be top-down or dictatorial. The best leaders listen, invite, and then encourage participation.
—The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork
Be aware today that your communication is setting the tone with the people you lead.
Discernment can be described as the ability to find the root of the matter, and it relies on intuition as well as rational thought. Discernment is an indispensable quality for any leader who desires to maximize effectiveness. It helps to do several important things:
1. Discover the Root Issues. Leaders of large organizations must cope with tremendous chaos and complexity every day. They are never able to gather enough information to get a complete picture. As a result, they have to rely on discernment to see a partial picture, fill in the missing pieces intuitively, and find the real heart of a matter.
2. Enhance Your Problem Solving. If you can see the root issue of a problem, you can solve it. The closer a leader is to his area of gifting, the stronger his intuition and ability to see root causes. If you want to tap into your discernment potential, work in your areas of strength.
3. Evaluate Your Options for Maximum Impact. Management consultant Robert Heller has this advice: "Never ignore a gut feeling, but never believe that it's enough." Discernment isn't relying on intuition alone, nor is it relying only on intellect. Discernment enables you to use both your gut and your head to find the best option.
4. Multiply Your Opportunities. People who lack discernment are seldom in the right place at the right time. Although great leaders often appear to be lucky to some observers, I believe leaders create their own "luck" as the result of discernment, that willingness to use their experience and follow their instincts.
—The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader
Use discernment today to position yourself and your team so that they can succeed.
YOU ARE YOUR LENS
Who you are determines the way you see everything. You cannot separate your identity from your perspective. All that you are and every experience you've had color how you see things. It is your lens. Here's what I mean:
A traveler nearing a great city asked an old man seated by the road, "What are the people like in this city?"
"What were they like where you came from?" the man asked.
"Horrible," the traveler reported. "Mean, untrustworthy, detestable in all respects."
"Ah," said the old man, "you will find them the same in the city ahead."
Scarcely had the first traveler gone on his way when another stopped to inquire about the people in the city before him. Again the old man asked about the people in the place the traveler has just left.
"They were fine people: honest, industrious, and generous to a fault," declared the second traveler. "I was sorry to leave."
The old man responded, "That's exactly how you'll find the people here."
The way people see others is a reflection of themselves: If I am a trusting person, I will see others as trustworthy. If I am a critical person, I will see others as critical. If I am a caring person, I will see others as compassionate.
If you change yourself and become the kind of person you desire to be, you will begin to view others in a whole new light. And that will change the way you interact in all of your relationships.
—Winning with People
Be aware of your "lens" today as you interact with others.
PUT PEOPLE IN THEIR (RIGHT) PLACE
Moving someone from a job they hate to the right job can be life changing. One executive I interviewed said he moved a person on his staff to four different places in the organization, trying to find the right fit. Because he'd placed her wrong so many times, he was almost ready to give up on her. But he knew she had great potential, and she was right for the organization. Finally, after he found the right job for her, she was a star!
Because this executive knows how important it is to have every person working in the right job, he asks his staff once a year, "If you could be doing anything, what would it be?" From their answers, he gets clues about any people who may have been miscast in their roles.
Trying to get the right person in the right job can take a lot of time and energy. Let's face it. Isn't it easier for a leader to just put people where it is most convenient and get on with the work? Once again, this is an area where leaders' desire for action works against them. Fight against your natural tendency to make a decision and move on. Don't be afraid to move people around if they're not shining the way you think they could.
—The 360° Leader
Look for clues that someone on your team could be better placed.
CHARACTER IS EVERYTHING
What makes people want to follow a leader? Why do people reluctantly comply with one leader while passionately following another to the ends of the earth? What separates leadership theorists from successful leaders who lead effectively in the real world? The answer lies in the character qualities of the individual person.
My friend, do you know whether you have what it takes to become a great leader, the kind who attracts people and makes things happen? I mean, if you took the time to really look at yourself deep down, would you find the qualities needed to live out your boldest dreams, the ones so big that you've never shared them with anybody? That's a question each of us must have the courage to honestly ask—and answer—if we want to achieve our real potential.
—The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader
Cultivate the character qualities necessary to be a successful, passionate leader.
THE LAW OF INFLUENCE
The true measure of leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that cannot be mandated. It must be earned.
The proof of leadership is found in the followers. So why do some people emerge as leaders while others can't influence no matter how hard they try? I believe that several factors come into play:
1. Character—who they are
2. Relationships—who they know
3. Knowledge—what they know
4. Intuition—what they feel
5. Experience—where they've been
6. Past Success—what they've done
7. Ability—what they can do
I love the leadership proverb that says, "He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk." If you can't influence people, then they will not follow you. And if people won't follow, you are not a leader.
—The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
Are people following you, or are you only taking a walk?
POINT OUT PEOPLE'S STRENGTHS
People often make a mistake in their personal development when they focus too much on their weaknesses. As a result, they spend all their time trying to shore up those weaknesses instead of maximizing the strengths they possess. Similarly, it's a mistake to focus on the weaknesses of others. The self-proclaimed "experts" who spend their time telling others what's wrong with them never win with people. Most people simply avoid them.
Instead, we need to focus on finding people's strengths and pointing them out. Most people have strengths that they rarely get to use. Those strengths may be job skills, knowledge, general abilities, personality characteristics, or other attributes. I once read an interesting fact based on research, saying that every person can do at least one thing better than ten thousand other people. Think about that! You possess an ability that can't be matched by anyone in your town or neighborhood ... or in your college or university ... or in your company or maybe even in your industry.
Have you discovered that ability? If so, you are probably well on your way to pursuing your life's purpose. If you haven't, wouldn't you love it if someone came alongside you and pointed it out? How would you feel about that person? I bet you'd be pretty grateful.
Why not try to become that kind of person in someone else's life? When you do, you just might be helping others to discover the thing God created them to do.
—25 Ways to Win with People
Point out a great strength of someone in your life today.
THE POWER OF FOCUSING
What does it take to have the focus required to be a truly effective leader? The keys are priorities and concentration. A leader who knows his priorities but lacks concentration knows what to do but never gets it done. If he has concentration but no priorities, he has excellence without progress. But when he harnesses both, he has the potential to achieve great things.
I frequently meet people in leadership positions who seem to major in minor things. So the important question is, How should you focus your time and energy?
Effective leaders who reach their potential spend more time focusing on what they do well than on what they do wrong. To be successful, focus on your strengths and develop them. That's where you should pour your time, energy, and resources.
Growth equals change. If you want to get better, you have to keep changing and improving. That means stepping out into new areas. If you dedicate time to new things related to areas of strength, then you'll grow as a leader. Don't forget: in leadership, if you're through growing, you're through.
Nobody can entirely avoid working in areas of weakness. The key is to minimize it as much as possible, and leaders can do it by delegating. For example, I delegate detail work to others. A team of people handles all the logistics of my conferences. That way when I'm there, I stick to the things I do best, such as the actual speaking.
—The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader
Set your priorities and focus on your strengths today.
CHARTING THE COURSE
Nearly anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Before leaders take their people on a journey, they become navigators and go through a process in order to give the trip the best chance of being a success:
Navigators Draw on Past Experience: Most natural leaders are activists. They tend to look forward—not backward—make decisions, and move on. But for leaders to become good navigators, they need to take time to reflect and learn from their experiences.
Navigators Examine the Conditions Before Making Commitments: Good navigators count the cost before making commitments for themselves and others. They examine not only measurable factors such as finances, resources, and talent, but also intangibles such as timing, morale, momentum, culture, and so on.
Navigators Listen to What Others Have to Say: No matter how good a leader you are, you yourself will not have all the answers. That's why top-notch navigators gather information from many sources.
Excerpted from THE MAXWELL DAILY READER by JOHN C. MAXWELL Copyright © 2007 by John C. Maxwell. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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