Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others

Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others

by John C. Maxwell, Jim Dornan


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785288398
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 08/27/2006
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 119,080
Product dimensions: 5.58(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.56(d)

About the Author

John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than thirty million books in fifty languages. He has been identified as the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association and the most influential leadership expert in the world by Business Insider and Inc. magazines. He is the founder of the John Maxwell Company, the John Maxwell Team, EQUIP, and the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation, organizations that have trained millions of leaders from every country of the world. The recipient of the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary Leadership Network, Dr. Maxwell speaks each year to Fortune 500 companies, presidents of nations, and many of the world’s top business leaders. He can be followed at For more information about him, visit

Read an Excerpt

Becoming a Person of Influence

How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others
By John C. Maxwell Jim Dornan

Nelson Business

Copyright © 2007 John C. Maxwell Jim Dornan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7852-8839-8

Chapter One

A Person of Influence Has ...

Integrity with People

Multiply Mentor Motivate


A few years ago, while my wife, Nancy, and I were on a business trip to Europe, we celebrated her birthday in London. As her gift, I decided to take her to the Escada boutique to buy her an outfit or two.

She tried on a number of things and liked all of them. And while she was in the dressing room trying to decide which one to pick, I told the salesperson to wrap up the whole lot of it. Nancy tried to protest; she was embarrassed to buy so many things at one time, but I insisted. We both knew she'd get good use out of the clothes. Besides, she looked fabulous in everything.

A couple of days later, we took the long flight out of Heathrow Airport in London to San Francisco International Airport. After we landed, we got in line for the inevitable customs check. When they asked what we had to declare, we told them about the clothes Nancy had bought and the amount we had spent.

"What?" the agent said. "You're declaring clothes?" He read the figure that we'd written and said, "You've got to be kidding!" It's true that we had spent a little bit of money on them, but we didn't think it was that big a deal. "What are the clothes made of?" he asked.

That seemed like an odd question. "A bunch of different things," answered Nancy. "Wool, cotton, silk. Everything's different. There are dresses, coats, blouses, shoes, belts, accessories. Why?"

"Each kind of fabric has a different duty," he said. "I'll have to get my supervisor. I don't even know what all the different rates are. Nobody declares clothes." He looked frustrated. "Go ahead and pull everything out and sort it according to what it's made of." As we opened up our bags, he walked away and we could hear him saying to a coworker, "Bobby, you'll never believe this...."

It must have taken us a good forty-five minutes to sort everything out and tally up how much we'd spent on each type of item. The duty turned out to be quite a bit-about two thousand dollars. As we were putting everything back into our suitcase, the agent said, "You know what? I think I know you. Aren't you Jim Dornan?"

"Yes," I answered. "I'm sorry, have we met before?" I didn't recognize him.

"No," he said. "But I've got a friend who's in your organization. Network 21, right?"

"That's right," I said.

"I've seen your picture before. You know," the agent said, "my friend has been telling me that I'd really benefit from hooking up with your organization. But I haven't really listened. Now I'm thinking I should reconsider. He might be right after all. See, most people I see every day try to get all kinds of things through customs without paying duty, even stuff they should know better about. But you guys, you're declaring stuff you could have gotten through with no problem. That's sure a lot of money you could've saved!"

"That may be true," answered Nancy, "but I can spare the money for customs a lot more than I can spare not having a clear conscience."

As we stood in line that day, it didn't even occur to Nancy or me that anyone there might know us. If our intention had been to cheat our way through, we never would have suspected that we'd be recognized. We thought we were anonymous. And I think that is what a lot of people think as they cut corners in life. "Who will ever know?" they say to themselves. But the truth is that other people know. Your spouse, children, friends, and business associates all know. And more important, even if you cover your tracks really well, and they don't know what you are up to, you do! And you don't want to give away or sell your integrity for any price.

Jim's experience with the customs agent is just one small example of how people today think when it comes to integrity. Sad to say, it no longer appears to be the norm, and when confronted by an example of honest character in action, many people seem shocked. Common decency is no longer common.

Genuine Integrity Is Not For Sale

You can see character issues coming up in every aspect of life. A few years ago, for example, financier Ivan Boesky openly described greed as "a good thing" while speaking at UCLA's business school. That flawed thinking soon got him into trouble. When his unethical practices on Wall Street came to light, he was fined $100 million and sent to prison for three years. Recently, he was reported to be ruined financially and living on alimony from his former wife.

Government hasn't been immune to integrity issues either. The Department of Justice is prosecuting public officials as never before, and it recently boasted that it had convicted more than 1,100 in one year-a dubious record.

Just about everywhere you look, you see examples of moral breakdowns. TV preachers fall morally; mothers drown their children; professional athletes are found with drugs and prostitutes in hotel rooms. The list keeps growing. It seems that many people view integrity as an outdated idea, something expendable or no longer applicable to them in our fast-paced world. But the need for integrity today is perhaps as great as it has ever been. And it is absolutely essential for anyone who desires to become a person of influence.

In his best-selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote about the importance of integrity to a person's success:

If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other-while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity or insincerity-then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do-even using so-called good human relations techniques-will be perceived as manipulative.

It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique.

Integrity is crucial for business and personal success. A joint study conducted by the UCLA Graduate School of Management and Korn/Ferry International of New York City surveyed 1,300 senior executives. Seventy-one percent of them said that integrity was the quality most needed to succeed in business. And a study by the Center for Creative Research discovered that though many errors and obstacles can be overcome by a person who wants to rise to the top of an organization, that person is almost never able to move up in the organization if he compromises his integrity by betraying a trust.

Integrity Is About the Small Things

As important as integrity is to your business success, it's even more critical if you want to become an influencer. It is the foundation upon which many other qualities are built, such as respect, dignity, and trust. If the foundation of integrity is weak or fundamentally flawed, then being a person of influence becomes impossible. As Cheryl Biehl points out, "One of the realities of life is that if you can't trust a person at all points, you can't truly trust him or her at any point." Even people who are able to hide their lack of integrity for a period of time will eventually experience failure, and whatever influence they have temporarily gained will disappear.

Think of integrity as having benefits similar to that of a house's foundation during a huge storm. If the foundation is sound, then it will hold up against the raging waters. But when there are cracks in the foundation, the stress of the storm deepens the cracks until eventually the foundation-and then the whole house-crumbles under the pressure.

That's why it's crucial to maintain integrity by taking care of the little things. Many people misunderstand that. They think they can do whatever they want when it comes to the small things because they believe that as long as they don't have any major lapses, they're doing well. But that's not the way it works. Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary describes integrity as "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty." Ethical principles are not flexible. A little white lie is still a lie. Theft is theft-whether it's $1, $1,000, or $1 million. Integrity commits itself to character over personal gain, to people over things, to service over power, to principle over convenience, to the long view over the immediate.

Nineteenth-century clergyman Phillips Brooks maintained, "Character is made in the small moments of our lives." Anytime you break a moral principle, you create a small crack in the foundation of your integrity. And when times get tough, it becomes harder to act with integrity, not easier. Character isn't created in a crisis; it only comes to light. Everything you have done in the past-and the things you have neglected to do-come to a head when you're under pressure.

Developing and maintaining integrity require constant attention. Josh Weston, chairman and CEO of Automatic Data Processing, Inc., says, "I've always tried to live with the following simple rule: 'Don't do what you wouldn't feel comfortable reading about in the newspapers the next day.'" That's a good standard all of us should keep.

Integrity Is an Inside Job

One of the reasons many people struggle with integrity issues is that they tend to look outside themselves to explain any deficiencies in character. But the development of integrity is an inside job. Take a look at the following three truths about integrity that go against common thinking:

1. Integrity Is Not Determined by Circumstances

Some psychologists and sociologists today tell us that many people of poor character would not be the way they are if only they had grown up in a different environment. Now, it's true that our upbringing and circumstances affect who we are, especially when we are young. But the older we are, the greater the number of choices we make-for good or bad. Two people can grow up in the same environment, even in the same household, and one will have integrity and the other won't. Ultimately, you are responsible for your choices. Your circumstances are as responsible for your character as a mirror is for your looks. What you see only reflects what you are.

2. Integrity Is Not Based on Credentials

In ancient times, brick makers, engravers, and other artisans used a symbol to mark the things they created to show that they were the makers. The symbol that each one used was his "character." The value of the work was in proportion to the skill with which the object was made. And only if the quality of the work was high was the character esteemed. In other words, the quality of the person and his work gave value to his credentials. If the work was good, so was the character. If it was bad, then the character was viewed as poor.

The same is true for us today. Character comes from who we are. But some people would like to be judged not by who they are, but by the titles they have earned or the position they hold, regardless of the nature of their character. Their desire is to influence others by the weight of their credentials rather than the strength of their character. But credentials can never accomplish what character can. Look at some differences between the two:

Credentials Character

Are transient Is permanent Turn the focus to rights Keeps the focus on responsibilities Add value to only one person Adds value to many people Look to past accomplishments Builds a legacy for the future Often evoke jealousy in others Generates respect and integrity Can only get you in the door Keeps you there

No number of titles, degrees, offices, designations, awards, licenses, or other credentials can substitute for basic, honest integrity when it comes to the power of influencing others.

3. Integrity Is Not to Be Confused with Reputation

Some people mistakenly emphasize image or reputation. Listen to what William Hersey Davis has to say about the difference between character and its shadow, reputation:

The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation ... the truth you believe determines your character.... Reputation is what you are supposed to be; character is what you are.... Reputation is the photograph; character is the face.... Reputation comes over one from without; character grows up from within.... Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community; character is what you have when you go away. Your reputation is made in a moment; your character is built in a lifetime.... Your reputation is learned in an hour; your character does not come to light for a year.... Reputation grows like a mushroom; character lasts like eternity.... Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor; character makes you happy or makes you miserable.... Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; character is what the angels say about you before the throne of God.

Certainly, a good reputation is valuable. King Solomon of ancient Israel stated, "A good name is more desirable than great riches." But a good reputation exists because it is a reflection of a person's character. If a good reputation is like gold, then having integrity is like owning the mine. Worry less about what others think, and give your attention to your inner character. D. L. Moody wrote, "If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself."

If you struggle with maintaining your integrity, and you're doing all the right things on the outside-but you're still getting the wrong results-something is wrong and still needs to be changed on the inside. Look at the following questions. They may help you nail down areas that need attention.


1. How well do I treat people from whom I can gain nothing?

2. Am I transparent with others?

3. Do I role-play based on the person(s) I'm with?

4. Am I the same person when I'm in the spotlight as I am when I'm alone?

5. Do I quickly admit wrongdoing without being pressed to do so?

6. Do I put other people ahead of my personal agenda?

7. Do I have an unchanging standard for moral decisions, or do circumstances determine my choices?

8. Do I make difficult decisions, even when they have a personal cost attached to them?

9. When I have something to say about people, do I talk to them or about them?

10. Am I accountable to at least one other person for what I think, say, and do?

Don't be too quick to respond to the questions. If character development is a serious area of need in your life, your tendency may be to skim through the questions, giving answers that describe how you wish you were rather than who you actually are. Take some time to reflect on each question, honestly considering it before answering. Then work on the areas where you're having the most trouble. And remember this:

Many succeed momentarily by what they know; Some succeed temporarily by what they do; but Few succeed permanently by what they are.

The road of integrity may not be the easiest one, but it's the only one that will get you where you ultimately want to go.

Integrity Is Your Best Friend

The esteemed nineteenth-century American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne offered this insight: "No man can for any considerable time wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one." Anytime you compromise your integrity, you do yourself an incredible amount of damage. That's because integrity really is your best friend. It will never betray you or put you in a compromising position. It keeps your priorities right. When you're tempted to take shortcuts, it helps you stay the right course. When others criticize you unfairly, it helps you keep going and take the high road of not striking back. And when others' criticism is valid, integrity helps you to accept what they say, learn from it, and keep growing.

Abraham Lincoln once stated, "When I lay down the reins of this administration, I want to have one friend left. And that friend is inside myself." You could almost say that Lincoln's integrity was his best friend while he was in office because he was criticized so viciously. Here is a description of what he faced as explained by Donald T. Phillips:

Abraham Lincoln was slandered, libeled and hated perhaps more intensely than any man ever to run for the nation's highest office.... He was publicly called just about every name imaginable by the press of the day, including a grotesque baboon, a third-rate country lawyer who once split rails and now splits the Union, a coarse vulgar joker, a dictator, an ape, a buffoon, and others. The Illinois State Register labeled him "the craftiest and most dishonest politician that ever disgraced an office in America...." Severe and unjust criticism did not subside after Lincoln took the oath of office, nor did it come only from Southern sympathizers. It came from within the Union itself, from Congress, from some factions within the Republican party, and, initially, from within his own cabinet. As president, Lincoln learned that, no matter what he did, there were going to be people who would not be pleased.

Through it all, Lincoln was a man of principle. And as Thomas Jefferson wisely said, "God grant that men of principle shall be our principal men."

Integrity Is Your friends' Best friend

Integrity is your best friend. And it's also one of the best friends that your friends will ever have. When the people around you know that you're a person of integrity, they know that you want to influence them because of the opportunity to add value to their lives. They don't have to worry about your motives.

Recently, we saw a cartoon in the New Yorker that showed how difficult it can be to sort out another person's motives. Some hogs were assembled for a feeding, and a farmer was filling their trough to the brim. One hog turned to the others and asked, "Have you ever wondered why he's being so good to us?" A person of integrity influences others because he wants to bring something to the table that will benefit them-not put them on the table to benefit himself.

If you're a basketball fan, you probably remember Red Auerbach. He was the president and general manager of the Boston Celtics from 1967 to 1987. He truly understood how integrity adds value to others, especially when people are working together on a team. And he had a method of recruiting that was different from that of most NBA team leaders. When he reviewed a prospective player for the Celtics, his primary concern was the young man's character. While others focused almost entirely on statistics and individual performance, Auerbach wanted to know about a player's attitude. He figured that the way to win was to find players who would give their best and work for the benefit of the team. Players who had outstanding ability but whose character was weak or whose desire was to promote only themselves were not really assets.


Excerpted from Becoming a Person of Influence by John C. Maxwell Jim Dornan Copyright © 2007 by John C. Maxwell Jim Dornan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


1. A Person of Influence Has ... Integrity with People....................15
2. A Person of Influence ... Nurtures Other People....................35
3. A Person of Influence Has ... Faith in People....................59
4. A Person of Influence ... Listens to People....................77
5. A Person of Influence ... Understands People....................97
6. A Person of Influence ... Enlarges People....................117
7. A Person of Influence ... Navigates for Other People....................137
8. A Person of Influence ... Connects with People....................157
9. A Person of Influence ... Empowers People....................173
10. A Person of Influence ... Reproduces Other Influencers....................193
About the Author....................209

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Becoming A Person of Influence 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read at least six other Maxwell books, and this is the least memorable of all. It's not that there is a lack of content here...looking back through the book, there is a lot of good advice that would be valuable in developing your sphere of influence. It just seems to be an awkward assembly of borrowed wisdom that didn't stick once I closed the cover. Maybe it's because the majority of the content is repeated from Maxwell's other books. It's not unusual to find two or three quotes or excerpts from other books on each page, which limits the amount of 'original' material and seriously hampers the flow. It almost appears that Maxwell and Dornan wrote separately, then did their best to cut-and-paste the two scripts later. The book considers four levels of influence: model, motivate, mentor and multiply. It does its best to weave those levels into ten chapters whose titles combine to spell 'influencer' -- Integrity with people, Nurtures other people, Faith in people, Listens to people, Understands people, Enlarges people, Navigates for other people, Connects with people, Empowers people and Reproduces other influencers. Perhaps this book would be more effective if you hadn't read any Maxwell books before. It would definitely be best to search through the book for individual nuggets of wisdom rather than try to pull one clear, solid message from these pages. Sadly, the nuggets that you pull are more likely to come from the quotes and excerpts than the original content. This isn't a bad book, but it's definitely not Maxwell's best. Larry Hehn, author of Get the Prize: Nine Keys for a Life of Victory
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in my twenties, and I love to read about leadership, to improve me leadership in my own life. This has been a great book, and would recommend it to any young leader-in-training. I have had many leaders and mentors in my life that I have taken things, and used them to help others. This book has shown me how to become a person of influence. It is great, and I love how John Maxwell and Jim Dornan use their own experience of leadership to help "their" readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read this book several times and has transformed my life. I now use it as one of my main book for teaching Leadership.