Essay on Developing the Leader Within You by Maxwell

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1730 Words
Date:  2021-05-25

John Maxwell is an American author, pastor, and speaker who has authored many books on leadership such as The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Born of an evangelical family, Maxwell followed into the footsteps of his father into the ministry. Maxwells experience that spans over 25 years in the church ministry accounted for his transition into teaching leadership to the corporate community (Eliason, 2009). As an internationally, recognized leadership expert, Maxwell has trained millions of leaders worldwide. His incentive for writing stems from the need to influence all people with whom he interacts with. More importantly, his writing on leadership is aimed at adding value in the peoples lives. The dynamic nature of the world and especially a surge in difficulty times calls for better leadership. In particular, the corporate world is engaged in hiring of managers who are in-charge of the growing workforce, vision and strategies. Maxwell notes that leaders opt to be able to get the best in others but this also requires the ability for such leader to draw out the best in themselves.

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In Developing the leader within you, Maxwell seeks to develop leaders from managers by laying out the ten principles of leadership as well as team building. Maxwell argues that no matter how ambitious and energetic a manager is, effectiveness within an organization relies on the ability to lead and influence. Leadership is therefore the ability to make positive changes, inspire, setting goals and visions, ability to have great attitudes, as well as developing more great leaders.


In this book, Maxwell discusses the 10 major traits that a person who aspires to be an effective leader should focus on. The first chapter analyzes the ability of a leader to move people in the right direction so as to achieve the organizations goals. Maxwell argues that leadership is the ability to influence and an individual only becomes a leader by being able to have followers. Maxwell notes that every person has the ability to create a positive influence. He offers five levels of leadership in which leaders go through in reaching the highest level of leadership.

The first level involves exerting control over the subjects due to a leaders position. The leader at this position often rules by intimidation. Although the leader at this stage is highly qualified, proactive and responsible, high turnovers are experienced due to lack of employee motivation. At level two, the leader relies on employees interrelationship and has a strong focus on bringing people together. Under a permission leader, people are observed to follow even beyond leaders formal authority. At level three the leader is able to bring people together in reaching the set goals. More importantly, the leader is able to account for results, take responsibility as well as identify those tasks that yield the highest returns.

Graduation into level four focuses on empowering the followers. Such a leader is able to gain loyalty by having shared goals as well as recognizing the employees as valuable assets. At level five, the leader is noted to have spent years helping in the growth of the organization and people. The unique characteristics of the leader is to influence loyalty and sacrifice in the people. Maxwell argues that a leader should be able to exhibit excellence at each level before progressing into the next.

Chapter two lays down the key leadership priorities that each leader should set. Maxwell notes that a leader should not do everything for each and every person within an organization but rather should prioritize on what is important for the stakeholders. Effective leadership is therefore achieved by ruthlessly protecting the set priorities. The ability to have followers as well as achieve on the priorities require exercising integrity on the part of the leader. In chapter 3, Maxwell argues that integrity is the state of being complete, unified (49). By being able to demonstrate integrity, people gain trust in the leader as well as gain confidence in the vision.

Maxwell further posits that the dynamic organizations nature increases resistance among the people. However, a leader should be able to create a positive change even where the vision is not clear. As the fourth principle of leadership, the leader should also be willing to effect personal changes before asking of the same from the followers. Chapter five builds on the leaders ability to create a positive change and thus enabling them to move into the destined destination. Maxwell notes that a leader should be able to solve problems or challenges that impede the achievement of the set goals. More importantly, a leader should be able to identify the challenges and devise ways of solving them even in situations that the environment is rigid.

Whereas, the first five chapters focuses on what an effective leader ought to do, the last five chapters analyzes the attributes that are inherent in such a leader. Noted as the sixth principle, Maxwell posits that a leader should have the positive right attitude. This requires the ability to assess oneself, a resolve to change, refinement of ones mindset, making the changed behavior a habit. Without a positive right attitude leaders may not be able to reach their full potential. Chapter seven focuses on the ability of the leader to develop other people. The ability to influence as well as achieve the set goals requires a collective initiative from the leader and the followers. Maxwell notes that the leader should make the right assumptions about people, ask for the right questions as well as find opportunities to build to develop them.

An effective leader should also be visionary as well as impacting this vision into the followers. Analyzed in chapter eight, Maxwell sums this quality into identifying factors hindering the vision and setting a right environment for realizing this vision. Maxwell notes that followers can only go as far as the leader has travelled. In additional to being visionary, leadership involves cultivation of self-discipline. A leader should be able to reflect on their own life and be in control of all areas that bring success and failure. Self-discipline aligns well with the ability to create a vision for the organization, making positive changes, as well as influencing the people. Simple steps such as starting small, organizing and avoiding procrastination leads to effective leadership.

Finally, chapter ten focuses on developing the staff which is regarded as the highest calling in leadership. Maxwell notes that the ability to reach this level of leadership, requires the leader to focus on creating a winning team by avoiding traps such as withholding information and trying to be liked rather than respected. A winning team is thus composed of great leaders who are inspired to keep improving.


Maxwells notion on developing leadership within an individual is well achieved in this book. More importantly, the authors utilization of real life experiences and diagrams in making opinions understood. What stands out for me in this book is the notion that leadership can be developed and its not destined for a particular group of people. There has always been the notion that leaders and managers are the same. However, Maxwell clearly notes that while leaders are effective managers, a majority of managers cannot be termed to be effective leaders.

The principles analyzed in this book creates a deeper inspiration in my development into becoming an effective leader. Being in a position of leadership at my place of work, I particularly find the inherent qualities that lead to effective leadership more compelling. For instance cultivating self-discipline will enhance trust in those I aspire to lead thus making it easier to influence. Additionally, self-discipline plays a huge role in the development of vision for the organization as well as abiding by these goals.

More often I have found my interests contrasting with those of people I lead. More so, instituting changes within the organization is always difficult especially where such a change lead to curtailing of previous privileges enjoyed by the employees. Maxwell offers an insight into solving such challenges with his problem identification and problem solving steps. More importantly, being able to identify such problems before they occur, clear communication and prioritizing on what needs to be solved first. While in the past, I would struggle to be liked by the employees by focusing on meeting their needs, Maxwell, argues that a leader should prioritize on what leads to attainment of the set goals.

In being able to lead others, I am also inspired to work on myself first by evaluating my life. Maxwell posits that leadership requires an individual to create a positive attitude more so towards employees. This is one area that this books expounded on my weaknesses especially my impatience in getting results. With leadership being more of a disposition rather than position, I have been equipped on how such disposition influences on others feelings. It is also clear that negative thinking only leads to self-destruction. Maxwell offers steps in which one can recreate a positive attitude through self-assessment, creating a resolve to change, repeating the changed behavior as well as renewing such attitudes with time. With my attitude being used to identify my followers, it therefore serves right to have positive assumptions about other people.

This has also invoked the need to develop other people and staff which is regarded as the highest calling in leadership. Being a position of leadership therefore requires identification of opportunities to develop others. This not only creates a winning team but also makes it easier to achieve the set targets where more people share in the same vision and are also motivated. In developing this quality, I am determined to share more information with those I lead, as well as consulting them for advice. Additionally, by adjusting my mindset on the ability to influence others will help in my personal development as I take more responsibilities in life.


I recommend this book to all people in the positions of leadership and who aspire to maximize on their leadership. More importantly, the authors approach to servant leadership is well illustrated as it touches on the qualities that a leader should focus on in inspiring, creating positive changes and developing more leaders.


Eliason, T. (2009). A life of Leadership and Inspiration: John Maxwell has passionately inspired leaders for more than 30 years. Retrieved from

Maxwell, J. C. (1993). Developing the leader within you. Nashville: T. Nelson.

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