The Journal Gazette
Sunday, April 28, 2019 1:00 am

Author: Personal change leads to real growth

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Leaders focused primarily on numerical goals may miss more important growth opportunities.

If there's enough personal growth in key leadership areas, the measurable goals or increases should follow, according to prolific and New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell.

That's one of the lessons Maxwell said he learned on his decadeslong leadership journey. He has written more than 90 books, including “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” and “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.” His latest, published in February, is titled “Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace.”

Maxwell participated in a late March webinar, facilitated by Paul Martinelli, president of The John Maxwell Team, to share highlights about the book. He was candid about some personal shifts he has made.

Maxwell said he used to think about numbers when goal setting, but realized he needed to think about essentials, and there are four major ones. He references them using the acronym REAL – meaning relationships, equipping, attitude and leadership. Leaders have to be able to relate to others well, equip a team, maintain a good attitude even when things aren't going well, and be able to influence people.

Maxwell decided he wanted to maximize his potential and grow in those four key areas, mastering disciplines. He considers that shifting from “Goals to Growth.”

He's willing to “give up (on) any day money for potential.” When you do that, Maxwell said, it's usually only a matter of time before you're making more money.

Of course, being adaptable and agile might help in that equation. Strong leaders have great intuition and timing; they know when to seize the moment.

There's merit in the cliché “If you snooze, you lose,” Maxwell said.

People unwilling to move from Plan A to Plan B once they're a few steps into something, he said, are usually “stuck on staying with the plan” rather than focusing on what actual circumstances suggest the next moves should be.

“You've always got to be ready to give up the space you're in to occupy the space you can build in,” Maxwell said.

Along with “Goals to Growth,” other chapters in the book are titled “Soloist to Conductor,” “Pleasing People to Challenging People,” “Maintaining to Creating,” “Ladder Climbing to Ladder Building” and “Positional Authority to Moral Authority.”

One underlying theme is not just working with, but developing, others.

“When leaders cross the finish line, they never cross it by themselves,” Maxwell said. If they cross it solo, they might be fast or a speed racer, but not a leader.

“Leaders wouldn't think about getting to the top of the mountain without taking people with them,” he said.

Hear vs. agree

Some people believe if a manager really hears them, they will agree with them.

Not so. And people who want the two to be synonymous will routinely end up frustrated every time their ideas aren't implemented.

It's possible to hear, without agreeing, but the best managers explain their rationale. Whether others on the team agree with the explanation or not, at least they will know there's been some thought behind it. And when there's room to compromise, or be flexible as Maxwell says, so be it. It's harder to be part of a team when one person makes every call every time.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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