Book Review: The Leadership Handbook, John Maxwell

May’s book for the Women’s Business Book Club was John Maxwell’s “The Leadership Handbook, 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs”.  All-in-all, I enjoyed the book and found that there were some practical take-aways if you are in a position of leadership. Maxwell is, needless to say, well-versed in the art of writing, articulating his position, and providing the reader with a structured approach to improvement.

Memorable quotes and key points

  • “I would vow to love people before trying to lead them” pg. 3- such an incredible concept and thought process, reminiscent of true servant leadership.
  • “It is in moments of risk that the greatest leaders are often born” pg. 27 – probably one of my favorite quotes in the book. It just happens to align with my life philosophy!
  • The concept of staying in your strength zone, continually strengthening your strengths versus working on a weakness. This is so contrary to our general education approach in the U.S. but makes total sense. If my natural strength and proclivity is to training and developing others, I should focus my development on improving in that area versus applying that time and effort to an area where I will just simply never excel. “If you send ducks to eagle school, you will frustrate the ducks. Let’s face it. Ducks are not supposed to be eagles – nor do they want to become eagles” pg. 87
  • The story of the gentleman who wanted to put his limited time in perspective. He purchased marbles, representing the number of Saturdays estimated to be remaining in his life. Every Saturday, he would remove one more marble from the jar. Such a poignant illustration of the scarcity of time. Yes, I’m buying some marbles.
  • In referring to the Chinese sage Lao-tzu, he writes “‘The wise leader,’ he said, ‘is like a midwife, not intervening unnecessarily, so that when the child is born, the mother can rightly say, ‘We did it ourselves!” That kind of mindset requires a more relational approach to leadership”. pg. 180

Lowpoints

Personally, I felt the book was well-done and I really loved the exercises that were included as it provided tactical actions to be taken to understand and improve your leadership. However, it did get a bit redundant at points, as if Maxwell was trying to fill pages versus adding meaningful information. Yes, he did reference his other published works…. which was annoying to some, but playing devil’s advocate as a wannabe author, I’d do the same thing. 🙂

Summary

I’d recommend the book. I wish more “leaders” would take proactive action, such as recommended in this book, to really become self-aware and complete an honest self-assessment of their current skills. This country is in a woeful leadership drought – whether it’s in corporations, government, or just in our own neighborhoods. Maybe they’re ducks and I want them to be eagles?

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