The first important point that stood out to me in Developing the Leaders Around You comes from the first session. Here John C. Maxwell states the law of explosive growth taken from his previous book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The law of explosive growth is as follows: “To add Growth, Lead Followers… To multiply, Lead Leaders.” (Maxwell 2). This simple statement describes how an organization’s potential can grow when those who are being mentored are taught to teach. Someone incredible at following instructions can never match someone capable of taking ideas and introducing them to others. In T.A.L.O.N.S. we follow the law of explosive growth all the time. The premise of the mentor-mentee relationship between grade ten and nine students is a perfect example. Grade ten students lead, instruct, and delegate tasks with an emphasis on providing opportunities to contribute. This way, grade nine students can do the same next year. Over the course of a year, we transform grade nine students from followers into leaders doubling the number that we started with. As reproducers, grade ten students need to make this succession a top priority and work to equip those they lead for success. After all, a program with this structure falls apart when grade nine students are left to their own devices when grade ten comes. The law of explosive growth describes a simple but highly effective method. Turning producers into reproducers allows for any organization to multiply not just its production output, but its output of highly successful and well-equipped members.
Second of the points that stood out to me from Developing the Leaders Around You comes from the beginning of section three. The first step of “The Five-Step Process for Turning Producers into Reproducers” (Maxwell 15) is a simple statement: I Model. Here Maxwell relays the effects of modelling on developing leaders with standout observations such as “people do what people see” (15) and my personal favourite “it is easier to teach than to do what is right” (15). These points explain the route of many leadership problems. No matter what you say, when developing the leaders around you they will follow your actions first and foremost. People break speed limits, cut in lines, and litter all because they see other people doing the same and not facing consequences. In leadership the effects of this are obvious. It is difficult to trust someone who does not practice what they preach. If a developing leader does not trust their mentor, they are less likely to follow instructions and won’t get everything out of their experiences. Additionally, “we remember 90% of what we hear, see, say, and do” (Maxwell 15). If we don’t see leadership being modelled, we are less likely to remember it. In T.A.L.O.N.S. we can clearly see the effects of this principle. Grade nine students who work with a mentor who does nothing but give instructions will not only be less motivated to follow them but is also more likely to do the same in their second year. The power of modelling is underestimated far too often. As leaders and as mentors we must demonstrate the behaviour and practices we wish to see or risk the next generation of unprepared leaders.
The final nugget of wisdom I would like to discuss comes from session 4. Here Maxwell lists five points of what potential leaders need that were originally written by his friend Tim Elmore. The point I would like to focus on is number 3, Road Maps. “All good mentors furnish direction for life. These “compasses” or “roadmaps” provide options on how to best get to their destinations.” (Elmore 23). Simply put potential leaders require a defined path to their success provided by their mentors to reach their full potential. In T.A.L.O.N.S. I feel that this idea is often overlooked. Often, groups are stunned by the enormity of tasks, don’t develop a concrete plan, and end up grappling with unforeseen challenges. This results in mentees that are lost and confused. Speaking from personal experience, when I was working on the online performances leadership project, I often felt that I didn’t understand the direction that the group was travelling in, rather I was simply following instructions as new issues came up. As a result, this became my least favourite part of leadership in my grade nine year. To prevent this from occurring in the future, we must spend more time developing an attainable roadmap to not only accomplish the task at hand but also ensure that those we mentor leave with new and applicable knowledge.
Maxwell, John C. Developing the Leaders around You Workbook : How to Help Others Reach Their Full Potential. Nashville, T. Nelson, 2003.