John Maxwell on Leadership

Are you really leading, or are you just taking a walk?


You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s lonely at the top” associated with leadership. But is isolated leadership really effective? I don’t think so. In fact, I believe that, “He that thinketh he leadeth, and hath no one following, is only taking a walk.” If you're all alone as a leader, are you really leading? Losing touch with your people is a huge leadership landmine. It will damage your credibility and destroy your influence. How do you avoid losing touch?
  1. Recognize the landmine. Unfortunately, losing touch is an easy thing to do. A leader can be tempted to withdraw by both success (“I don’t need to see my people”) and failure (“I don’t want to see my people”). Understanding that it can happen is the first step to avoiding it.
  2. Value people. All leadership is influence. And what is influence if it doesn’t involve other people? No matter what your organization produces or does, it needs people to function. YOU need people to lead. Leadership becomes effective when you acknowledge that people are your most appreciable asset, and treat them accordingly.
  3. Avoid positional thinking. Your position or title shouldn’t define your leadership. That’s positional thinking, and it will cause you to disconnect as a leader. Again, leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less. I make it my goal to see the people I lead as teammates, not employees. We work together toward a common goal.
  4. Love the people you lead. Do you see your people as cogs in the machinery of your organization, and yourself as the operator? They can tell if you don’t care about them. And I’ve said for a long time that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Loving your people makes the difference in their willingness to follow you into anything, no matter how hard the battle.
  5. Understand the Law of Significance. This is from my book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. In it, I explain that one is too small a number to achieve greatness. Many years ago, I realized that I needed the help of other people to achieve what I felt called to do. I now believe that any dream worth dreaming will be bigger than the dreamer. If you can achieve your dream by yourself, your dream is too small!
The most effective leaders stay connected to their people. This gives them the greatest amount of influence, and allows the leader and the team to achieve their big-picture goals together. What about you? If you’re in a position of leadership, are your followers close at hand? Or have you allowed yourself to lose touch?

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