My introduction to John Maxwell came quite abruptly. A few years ago, I didn't know much about leadership. In fact, I really never gave much thought to it. My idea of leadership was "management by example" , which was my way of saying I didn't lead, but managed. And most of the folk during my career, that I had reported to, were nothing more than managers themselves. Insight to real leadership was not much of a priority.
In fact, characteristics synonymous with leadership, like respect, vision, compassion, humility, and so on, weren't incorporated into my management style. While I felt that I was a good person, and an effective manager, I made many critical mistakes that often affected my career, my team, and key relationships in my life. Back then, I just did not think much about leadership because I really wasn't exposed to those type of influences. I did travel quite a bit and had many opportunities to pick books on leadership at the book store, but instead, I chose to purchase and read the latest novel.
So, I sat each member of the team down, to get feedback on what they felt were some of the problems of the team. I tried to also be affirming and appreciative. But what I found out wasn't pretty. I found out that the problem was me. It wasn't the team. My team was a group of outstanding people, with great talents, extremely intelligent, that I had brought together to work as a team. Unfortunately, they lacked leadership. And I was suppose to be the leader. But I was nothing more than an appointed leader. I knew nothing about leading a team. And so, I pledged to myself, that I would do all that I could to learn about leadership.
At the time it was about Christmas, and my wife and kids were looking for my Christmas wish list. As my children complained about my boring list - ties, socks, a belt - I also added, "Hey, why don't you guys get me a book on leadership. I can really use it." Fortunately, unlike me, my wife was commited to personal development and growth and spent a great deal of her time in the self-help and business sections at the book store. And on Christmas morning,when I opened my gifts, the first gift that I opened was a book by John Maxwell, titled, "Developing the Leader Within You." It was the perfect, timely gift for a struggling leader.
I had never heard of this John Maxwell before, even though we was raised in the smal town of Circleville, Ohio, some 30 miles from my college alma mater, The Ohio State University. Once I began to read his book, it seemed to me that I had lived most of my career in the dark ages. On that Christmas morning, things changed for me. I picked up the book and began to read it and quite frankly, what I read changed my thinking. The book was so engaging that I refused to put it down. So, in between breaks from taking pictures of the children opening their presents, I begin to read chapter after chapter. By the end of the weekend I had read the entire book. And so, I went back to the beginning of the book, pencil and paper in hand and began to take detailed notes of all that was written. More importantly, as I took my notes, I substituted the pronoun "you" for "I". I was committed to taking what I had learned and incorporating it immediately.
Following, the good advice of John Maxwell, things changed immediately. Our team began to blossom. We had a vision, we had a plan, and we had a team. Our results improved dramatically, to the point that within a year, our team received one of the top vendor awards given by our largest customer. And it was simply a matter of leadership.
From the day that I received my first John Maxwell book, I have purchased virtually everything that he has written. And he has written a lot. John Maxwell is synonymous with leadership.
Perhaps you are faced with a similar situation. And even if you are not, now is the time for you to begin ro start your leadership development. Leadership is a trait that is sorely missing in business today. You can change that. Start your leadership journey today, with John Maxwell.