Author: John C. Maxwell

Publisher: Nelson Publishers, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0785214113, 272 pages

After years of writing and lecturing about leadership, and after decades of practicing it, John C. Maxwell created this book as a reflection on all he has learned about guiding others. He shares leadership lessons he experienced firsthand as well as those culled from other experts. His 26 “gold nuggets” address various aspects of leadership, such as developing relationships, nurturing tomorrow’s leaders, and recognizing and responding to “defining moments.” At the end of each chapter, Maxwell offers “Application Exercises” to show readers how to put the lessons to practical use, and “Mentoring Moments” to help them teach the principles to others. As in most of Maxwell’s books, his strength lies not in his originality but in his ability to distill offerings from many different sources into pithy quotes and simple, easy-to-learn portions. Maxwell readers will encounter much familiar wisdom but, nonetheless, getAbstract finds that this is a warm and helpful text for emerging and current leaders in every field.

Rebels with causes

“Harnessing the power of many”

Leadership takes effort, dedication and a commitment to improve and learn. What does it mean to be a leader? It means readily “putting oneself at risk” and being willing to “stand out in a crowd.” Leaders aren’t content with the status quo; they are driven to create meaningful change. While others fixate on limitations, leaders perceive opportunities. They are responsible yet daring, humble yet inspiring. By caring about those around them, they “liberate the ideas, energy and capacities of others.”

“Truths about the top”

Contrary to the popular saying “It’s lonely at the top,” good leadership is not a solitary pursuit. If you separate yourself from your team members, you’ll lose sight of their needs, dreams and ambitions. You can’t help them if you don’t know them. To stay connected, do away with “positional thinking.” Don’t use your authority to push others into doing what you want. Instead, develop relationships so you can pursue shared goals. When people feel that you care about them, they will show interest in what you have to say. Scrambling up the corporate ladder without developing relationships along the way puts you in danger of managing people’s minds and actions without winning their hearts. Such emotionless leadership is often short-lived.

Are you a positional leader, a “climber”? Or are you more relational, a “connector”? Climbers focus on hierarchy; they define people by their higher or lower position on the corporate ladder. From this perspective, everyone becomes a competitor, rather than a collaborator with a common goal. In contrast, connectors seek partners and draw strength from a team effort. Good leadership requires both climbing and connecting. To become a better climber, establish a clear purpose, improve your ability to focus and push yourself to work faster. To become a more effective connector, nurture your self-confidence, so you don’t always feel the need to be the “top dog.” Develop your “appreciation, sensitivity, consistency” and humor.

The most challenging person to lead is yourself. While you might judge others fairly, maintaining a realistic self-image is difficult. If you learn how to lead yourself, leading others will follow more naturally…

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