My book recommendation for June is John Maxwell’s 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.

I have used this book with several small groups I was giving leadership training/ mentoring to, which each group has loved. I’ve just started it with my new BLP (Basic Leadership Practicum) students, and they also are looking forward to the times we look at another chapter.

What makes it so successful in doing with a small group is that the chapters are short. Each is just seven pages long and follow the same format:

  • A couple of inspiring quotes related to the chapter from Maxwell and another top leader
  • A short story about a leader who illustrates the leadership quality for the chapter
  • “Fleshing it out” section where Maxwell pulls out four key points on leadership from the story we can learn and apply to our own life.
  • “Reflecting on it” Where John challenges and encourages us to look at how we are doing with that indispensable quality in our own life and suggestions of how we can put it into practice.
  • “Bringing it home” Three points to take away and work through how to put them into practice in our own lives, with suggestions of activities we can do that week to continue to apply the fundamental principles and make them our own.
  • Ending with a “Daily Take Away” a short story of another fruitful leader and how they had put into practice this indispensable quality of a leader and where it had got them in their life.

It’s easy to read the story section together and then discuss what we each noticed about the leader that helped him/ her achieve their goals and be a productive and good leader.

Then to move the discussion to how we could apply the key points, Maxwell reflects on and asks what they can look like in reality in our own life.

It’s excellent to have ‘homework’ type questions for each of us in the group to go home and continue to work through which I, as the program leader, don’t have to create. But it’s also an easy way to ask other leaders you know to come in and lead the session because the content is already all there. They can add some of their examples to help make it personable, lets the group know them a little more and gives me less teaching content to produce. While also providing a change of pace and teaching style to schedule.

There are as promised twenty-one different indispensable qualities which I would agree are key principles all leaders should either already have in their toolbox or be working on to develop further. I’m choosing not to do them in the exact order that Maxwell has the chapters but to pray as to which one God wants us to cover as a group next. Each group is different, so it’s never in the same order twice.

My only wish is that Maxwell would add more of how to partner with God as he encourages us in our leadership development. Being a Christian for me means that we bring God into all that we do. It’s a vital part of our growth to become more like Jesus in our leadership as well as a person. But I’m not passive in this wish – I’m writing my own book(s) to help fill this gap.

John Maxwell has written many, many books on leadership. I’ve already suggested another of his books to read – Developing the leader within You 2.0. Therefore I would recommend searching for his other books on Goodreads or Maxwell’s website to see whether another book of his would also be useful for you at this stage of your leadership growth. He has created an excellent range of resources beyond books as well.

However, I would recommend you read widely on leadership development type books – to see how other author’s and leaders share their keys and ways of doing and growing in leadership. We are all different and can learn much from other good, great and not so good leaders. To learn from their mistakes and the wisdom they live out.

But the only way we will actually change to become the leader we want to be is by prayerfully applying what we are learning to our own life. Keep asking God and yourself – so what does that look like in my own life. What do I need to change or add to how I do things and recognise the things I can do to apply this principle and thus become a better leader?

Pass it on