Developing the Leaders Around You

“Developing the Leaders Around You” is a book written by John C. Maxwell. He writes about the importance of developing potential leaders to achieve your team’s goals. The book outlines the key principles to influence and motivate others, and the benefits of growing potential leaders. In this blog post, I will describe three points this book raises, underline their relevance to me, and possible applications to the leadership projects and adventure trips planning.

The Leadership Challenge

This point demonstrates the difficulties of training leaders. The book states that:

  • Leaders are hard to find
  • Leaders are hard to gather
  • Leaders are hard to unite
  • Leaders are hard to keep

Potential leaders are rare. They are self-directed, having their own ideas and goals. If you don’t keep them engaged in your team with new challenges and learning opportunities, they won’t stay put. The independent nature of leaders provides many challenges, but they can develop into valuable and unreplaceable team members.

In my life, I’m often presented with missions that involve working within a team. Whether it be a school project, a side-hobby project, or an extracurricular club or team. I’m currently in a robotics team, with several great potential leaders. I know that I can keep my team together by finding new problems to solve and new improvements to add to our robot.

Our leadership projects and adventure trips planning require a lot of communication and provide many leadership opportunities. I think that a practical way to apply “The Leadership Challenge” point is to correctly delegate committees and tasks. Leaders need to be given work that they find engaging and rewarding. We should give each student a choice to make between the project, committee, and tasks they believe would best suit their development.

It is easier to teach what is right than to do what is right.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” ― Albert Einstein.

This point shows that doing what is right is much more powerful than saying or teaching what is right. Simply talking is much easier than actually doing. In fact, this phenomenon of saying but not doing is so common that we have a special word for such people: hypocrites. The book also illustrates this point using a vacation-themed analogy. Leaders who just direct others to complete tasks are labelled “travel agents.” They send people to their destination. On the other hand, leaders who not only direct but also work hands-on with others are labelled “tour guides.” They take people to their destination.

In my life, the “show, don’t tell” point is relevant in an endless number of places. One of the best ways to implement it is with younger kids. Since they’re still in an early stage of growth, it’s much easier for them to be influenced. Thus, it’s all the more important to be a good role model. I can set examples of good communication for my little brother. During my volunteer sessions as a Canskate program assistant, I can show simple traits like being helpful.

This principle can also be flexibly applied to various situations during our leadership project and adventure trip planning. Throughout the entire planning phase, we should always be demonstrating good teamwork traits as committees. However, this point may also be applied to more specific situations. For example, if someone is off task, the rest of the group should stay focused on their work. While it would be good to give them a reminder, we shouldn’t be constantly nagging them. This would create a disagreeable environment. Instead, if we all stay on task, the person would realize that they should be contributing as well without being told explicitly.

Six Levels of Growth

Each person responds differently to development. This point describes leadership growth through stages. It divides people into six levels of growth:

LEVEL 6: Growth that allows them to handle any job

LEVEL 5: Growth that allows them to take others higher

LEVEL 4: Growth that takes them to a higher level job

LEVEL 3: Growth that makes them able to reproduce themselves in their job

LEVEL 2: Growth that makes them capable in their job

LEVEL 1: Some Growth

Each higher level is harder to achieve, and the pool of people shrinks as you climb the ladder. There are much fewer people in level 6 than level 1. Each person will often plateau at one of the six levels of development.

I can definitely relate to the six levels of growth. Personally, I know a lot of people on level 2, being capable in their job. I also find myself on level 2 in a lot of areas in my life. The difference between level 2 and level 3 is the ability to reproduce themselves in their job. In other words, to develop others to complete their job. I think a good way to take this step is through the Feynman Technique, which involves explaining what you’ve learned in the simplest way possible. By learning like this, you exercise your teaching abilities and make the advancement from level 2 to level 3. Here’s a video explaining the Feynman Technique in detail.

As a grade 10, the six levels of growth will be an extremely useful tool during the leadership project and adventure trips planning. This is because it gives me an accurate representation of my leadership abilities and also directs me to the next step to improve. Say in an aspect of planning, I was in level 2. With knowledge of this point, I would know that my next step is to teach others to complete my job. After I feel that I’m proficient in level 3, it would be a good time to move to level 4, a higher level job, or take on more responsibility and challenges.


Think about how these principles may be relevant in your life, and how you can apply them to develop leaders around you. Thanks for reading!


Maxwell, J. C. (2014). Developing the Leaders Around You. HarperCollins Leadership.

A quote by Albert Einstein. (n.d.) Goodreads.