Did you know that we’re in a global leadership crisis?

That thought has popped in the news a lot lately. There have been breathless editorials from all angles about the decline of leadership in government, education, entertainment, religion, business, art, and the family. We’re not as strong as we used to be seems to be the common refrain, and our world is on the verge of collapse because of it.

Suddenly, leadership is a hot-button issue. A must-have skill set.

It’s become a popular field of study, found everywhere from high schools to higher ed. In some ways, it’s gratifying. I’ve been teaching about the importance of leadership for over forty years, so the surge of interest is nice. As I hear more about the leadership deficit, the same solution is pushed forward repeatedly: we need more men and women who can lead. And I agree.

But while the world can always use more leaders, the deficit isn’t just a numbers issue.

It’s also a character issue.

We don’t just need more leaders—we need better leaders.

We need leaders who have a healthy perspective on what it means to lead. We need leaders who leverage their influence for a greater good. We need leaders who don’t burn through people, resources, and vision.

Why does this matter? Why do we need better leaders?

Because better leaders change lives.

Now, this isn’t some slogan, or motivational claptrap. I believe this with all my heart because I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve seen my friend Gabby bring transformation to her home country of Paraguay. I’ve seen my friend Chris Hodges build an incredible ministry in Alabama. I’ve seen Rick Hendrick serve people in Charlotte, Collin Sewell help people in Texas, and Ed Bastian improve lives all over the globe.

Leaders know that their role is about more than self-gratification. It’s about making a difference in the world. As people pay more attention to the way leaders negatively impact the lives of people, it’s a good idea to stop and think about the way leaders can make a positive impact.

Here are five ways leaders change lives for the better:

  1. In a time of dehumanization, leaders value people—leaders have an affinity and appreciation for the people they lead. They see people as having worth that isn’t tied to output or production; leaders understand the intrinsic value each human being has and add value to people based on that understanding. Intentionally adding value to people makes people feel valued.
  2. In a time of discouragement, leaders encourage people—discouragement has become a native tongue for many, especially online. We live in a world that encourages people to diminish and dismiss any train of thought that stands apart from their own. Leaders encourage people to something different—something positive. Leaders speak life to their people, pointing out and affirming the good in each person, which makes people confident in themselves and their ability to make a difference.
  3. In a time of apathy, leaders equip people—it would be wonderful if encouragement alone were all people needed to make a difference, but it’s not enough. They also need to be equipped to make a difference. Leaders take the time to train, coach and mentor people to help bring out the talents and strengths of everyone.
  4. In a time of cynicism, leaders inspire people—one of the most challenging things for a leader to do is balance reality with vision. Reality says, “This is where we’re at,” while vision says, “This is where we’re going to be.” Leaders who embrace a positive mindset find a way to cast vision for what’s possible while acknowledging what’s true. It’s an abundance perspective that makes people hopeful.
  5. In a time of powerlessness, leaders empower people—of all the ways that leaders change lives for the better, nothing matches the gift of empowerment. Leaders take their power, combine it with their belief in the best of others, and give both away freely. When people have both the faith and authority to make a difference, they have the energy necessary to act with boldness.

If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely because you can envision yourself as a leader. You want to make a difference in the world. You want to change lives for the better.

Let me assure you, we need you.

Develop yourself as a leader. Develop the leader within you. The world needs your unique contribution to the problems we all face. You can change lives for the better.

You just start with your own.


  1. khaya booi on June 4, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    I have enjoyed the lesson. Thank you very much indeed when people are powerless the leader must empower them.

  2. Mario Luppino on June 4, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Maybe the best post ever from JM. Each of us has the ability to be a better leader…to change lives for the better. You don’t have to be rich, or famous, or brilliant, or anything. You just have to have the desire. The desire to be a difference maker.

  3. Stephen Paul Gazama on June 4, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    That’s true John. I pray that we, the young leaders, will see this and prepare ourselves to “be the change that ‘we’ wish to see in the world.” God… help us! Thank you John for that wake up call.

  4. Deyeye Goodluck Mento on June 4, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    A following fellow becomes a good follower and a good and a hardworking follower becomes a leader and an effective and efficient leader will experience these five ways leaders change. Thanks so much for this wonderful professional leadership development coaching. I appreciate.

  5. Muhammad Nawaz on June 5, 2019 at 7:16 am

    John thank you very much you wrote wonderful books I have read 5 of your books on leadership and now I’m living your message by the grace of God. May God keep you and your family happy healthy with faith.

  6. Jeff Orr on June 6, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Encouraging read! Thank you. Baby Boomer and Gen-X leaders need to pour into the next generation of leaders both Millennials and Gen Z. I agree, we need to pass on the character learning and development in these young leaders to keep the higher purpose in mind. Leaders will be great when they have the character and skillset aligned together.

  7. Hamed on June 6, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    It’s very useful and all leaders have to doing in crisis. Very good lesson
    Thanks John

  8. Tim Aderinkomi on June 7, 2019 at 8:12 am

    This is huge and on point. Thank you, JM our leaderahip coach for this wonderful job of raising leaders. Our world will be a better place if we could all become better leaders.

  9. Ralph Segun Dada. on June 7, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Thanks a million for this awesome publication on Leadership. Thanks to John Maxwell and the team for all the great works on leadership. This is indeed amazing wisdom for all to learn from. The world need this in times like this when most leaders in all spheres of influence see people as tools to used and not people to be loved and helped. Though understanding that leadership is a very demanding role to fulfill, yet when we understand that people are our greatest asset and resources, we will give all it takes to make them better when we are better too. More grace to JM for greater impacts on lives globally.

  10. Ramakrishnan M on June 7, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Wonderful lesson !

  11. Samuel A Nyantakyi on June 11, 2019 at 2:56 am

    Thanks for the insightful read. Very necessary for the times.

  12. Maxim Dsouza on June 13, 2019 at 12:23 am

    One quote which you have mentioned in your books has resonated with me for a long time. I do not remember the exact words, but this was the context. “Higher up the ladder, it is not that there aren’t enough people capable to carry out the responsibilities. The scarcity is because there are not enough leaders willing to pay the price.”

  13. Dolly on June 27, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Inspiring article

  14. Jeremiah Cioffi on July 21, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Number 5 is my favorite. Most leaders think their role is mission accomplishment. Of course, that’s true. But, it’s the people that are going to help you accomplish the mission. If you create leaders and empower them, your mission will be that much smoother.

    I wrote an article on this topic. I would be honored if you’d take a read and critique it!


  15. IBRAHIM NGUGI GATIMU on November 20, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Inspired inspiration. Thanks a lot JMT. “You just start with your own”, I can’t agree more.

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