Leadership 101 By John C. Maxwell

Leadership 101 by John C Maxwell.

A Good Book on Leadership

Maxwell is a leadership guru.  His work has been on the New York Times best sellers list, in the wall street journal, and is getting to be required reading for pretty much every leadership course offered in business or ministry.  Maxwell is an easy read.  His books are filled with stories that inspire the heart of men through the examples of great leadership throughout history.  Stories about athletes conquering devastating injuries to return to greatness intertwine with stories of titans of business who rose from nothing to the most successful business men of their day.  On cannot read Maxwell without feeling inspired to be great.  Whether it is the stories he tells or the applications he draws, you will feel like you are suddenly able to conquer any leadership challenges with the practical and strategic method he lays out for the reader.

This short, easy read is intended to be read in one sitting.  I did this, it was fun and easy to digest.  I think that it’s a good exercise.  If you ever want to grasp the flow of a book, sit down and read it all at once.  Try it!  It’s easier than you think.

Maxwell divides his work into three sections. The Development of a Leader, The Traits of a Leader, and The Impact of a Leader.  I would rephrase them this way: Why should I lead and how, What I should look like as a leader, and What will be the results if I actually do this?  If you’ve ever read a Maxwell Book, you know every page is filled with useful tips on bettering yourself as a leader.  This work is no exception.  In fact, most of this work is a compressed version of several other works he has written on the subject.

What was helpful:  Maxwell’s work is compelling and sometimes challenging.  The illustrations make you feel as though you could just tweak a few things in your life and you’ll be able to conquer the world!  Further, Maxwell has a naturally encouraging tone.  When reading you feel as though your grandfather is cheering you on as you play tee ball and occasionally giving pointers that can change the shape of your career.

What was troubling: 1) Maxwell knows leadership, but he is a self confessed poor practitioner.  Maxwell has studied leadership for years, and yet at the beginning of almost every book he writes on the subject he tells you he is not good at it.  But, consider Maxwell.  He runs a tremendous organization and has tons of experience leading.  I think he is probably trying to set the reader at ease and explain that he was not naturally a good leader.  But he is certainly a good one.  2) There is next to no scripture used.  Maxwell draws his life lessons from illustrations from American Capitalism and Athletes.  While these are tremendously encouraging and engaging, there are seldom stories taken from Scripture.  Now, don’t get me wrong, this is still a worthy book to add to your collection, I would simply add a few more that talk about scriptural leadership as well.

In truth, there are no formulas to make you a better leader… I see my friends grab on to principles of leadership constantly.  The oldest truths described in the newest ways.  As leaders we latch on to these kinds of books for a time and we drum up a great deal of excitement in our lives for a time.  Quickly though, it becomes evident: only discipline, fervent faith in Christ Jesus, and hard work will accomplish the life change needed to lead well.  Maxwell agrees.  So read the book, love Jesus more than the advice in the book, and work hard.


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