By MOHAMMED ALMATHIL
“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Hence our success is determined by how we lead ourselves and those around us. The question that comes up often is how can we develop ourselves into better leaders? This week, I would like to introduce another book on leadership called: Developing The Leader Within You by John Maxwell, who is considered one of the top authorities on leadership.
1. The Definition of Leadership: Influence
While there are many definitions of leadership, it isn’t about titles, positions, or even the number of fans. Rather, John Maxwell believes that “leadership is influence. Nothing more; nothing less.” Each one of us has influence on others in one way or another and at different levels. We are to identify which level we are currently on with the people around us. Also, we are encouraged to spend time learning and building a relationship with those that influence us.
2. The Key to Leadership: Priorities
Leaders value the importance of thinking ahead and prioritizing their responsibilities. According to the Pareto Principle, “20 percent of your priorities will give you 80 percent of your production.” It is very easy for us to get distracted with urgent matters, but we must lead ourselves to prioritize important matters. If we imagine ourselves in our death beds, would we wish that we have spent more time at work making money? Would we wish for more time to watch entertainment shows on Netflix? The fact of the matter is that we would wish we spent more time on things that truly matter.
3. The Most Important Ingredient of Leadership: Integrity
“People with integrity have nothing to hide, and nothing to fear” and they practice what they preach. If we want to develop ourselves as leaders, we must exercise integrity in what we say and do, and that will lead to more trust, a better reputation, and more credibility amongst our followers.
4. The Ultimate Test of Leadership: Creating positive Change
Essentially, the leader is a change agent who starts with changing him/herself and that is the most difficult task. Throughout history, change agents faced immense resistance in their societies. Their ideas were not accepted or adopted at first but they were determined to change the beliefs of those around them despite the challenges they faced. Just think of the tremendous resistance our beloved Prophet Muhammed faced when he first started teaching others about Islam. Despite the hardships and opposition he faced at first, he was able to bring on effective change that impacts us till this very day as Muslims. Leaders need to anticipate resistance to change and realize that they must endure in order to succeed.
5. The Quickest Way to Gain Leadership: Problem-Solving
As leaders, it is inevitable that we will encounter problems. However, we must have the right mindset to tackle and solve our problems. As John Maxwell said, “people need to change their perspective, not their problems.” In addition, successful leaders are those who are able to “recognize the problem before it becomes an emergency.” The process of problem solving includes identifying the problem, prioritizing the problem, defining the problem, selecting the right people and the best options, implementing the best solution, evaluating the solution, and setting up policies to preventing recurrence of the problem.
6. The Extra Plus in Leadership: Attitude
“Leadership has less to do with position than it does disposition.” There are six stages of attitude change which include: identifying the problem feelings, identifying problem behavior, identifying problem thinking, identifying right thinking, making a public commitment to right thinking, and developing a plan for right thinking. It is crucial to remember that “the leader’s attitude helps determine the attitudes of the followers.”
7. Developing Your Most Appreciable Asset: People
“The greatest potential for growth of a company is growth of its people.” Leaders place their most important value in developing people. They realize that people’s development requires giving them time and effort, committing to help them grow, and genuinely caring about them.
8. The Indispensable Quality of Leadership: Vision
“All great leaders possess two things: one, they know where they are going and two, they are able to persuade others to follow.” Leaders look behind to identify what they have learned from past experiences, look around them to learn from others in the present, and more importantly look ahead for what is the big picture. They mobilize their followers to fulfill the vision.
9. The Price Tag of Leadership: Self-Discipline
Great vision and goals cannot turn into reality without having discipline. Leaders need to start by organizing themselves and working hard to achieve their success. It needs to be done with a clear expectation of sacrifice. In addition, leaders need to be responsible for who they are, for what they can do, and for those that follow them. Accepting accountability is an essential part of the self discipline of any successful leader.
10. The Most Important Lesson of Leadership: Staff Development
“Those closest to the leader will determine the level of success for that leader.” The staff and team around leaders either facilitate or impede the road to success. When it comes to hiring staff, keep in mind the following points: “The smaller the organization, the more important the hiring. Know what kind of person you need (personal requirements). Know that the job requires. Know what the potential staff member wants. When you can not afford to hire the best, hire the young who are going to be the best.”
The above is a very simple high level summary but I recommend that you to purchase the book and study it further. Until next time, I welcome your responses, questions, or reflections. You can comment below, or tweet at @AlmathilNY using the hashtag #OTIBookSummary on twitter, and I will do my best to respond to them.