The main focus of Developing the Leaders Around You by John C. Maxwell is looking for potential leaders to develop and doing your best to help develop them to their full potential. There were many teachings of his that stuck out to me from this tutorial, but I decided to write about a few specific ones. Ones I could actively apply to my life on the road of developing myself as a leader, as well as ones with nuggets of wisdom that interested me and I could share with others.
Before looking for people to develop, you must spend time on yourself. John C. Maxwell believes leaders always go first, emphasizing the point of asking yourself if you can bring it home for yourself. If the answer is no, it is impossible for you to bring it home for other people. Practicing going first as a leader is important to do because it reminds me not to ask people to do what I am not willing to do myself. There are many ways I can apply the leaders go first mentality to the planning of upcoming leadership projects. While planning the bottle drive last year there was quite a bit of work and communication that had to go into the project outside of class time and during winter break. If we are planning to follow a similar timeline to last year, it is likely we will be putting in work over Winter Break to finalize a few details. Many people did not participate in conversations over the break last year, resulting in the absence of valuable voices and opinions. This year I can go first by making sure I do not expect my group members to put in work over the break if I am not willing to do the same. Last year I was always hesitant to speak up. Hopefully by going first and initiating conversations this year, I will encourage other group members to speak up and share their ideas. Going first can be a simple task, yet it can create a huge impact when done in group settings.
John C. Maxwell wrote “No great leader ever built a reputation on firing people. Many have built a reputation of developing people” (Maxwell, 2014, p. 8). What he meant by this is once you get more joy out of watching others succeed than form your own success is when you have truly become a successful leader. Hearing this reminded me of the career interview I conducted with my aunt for an assignment in CLE. She told me that when she was younger, she worked for the paycheck like most people do, but now she works to help others succeed. Ever since she told me that I have been trying to find ways incorporate the same principles to my leadership. In one session of the tutorial, John C. Maxwell mentioned how tens often bring and develop tens on their teams, nines bring in and develop eights, sevens bring in and develop fours, sixes bring in and develop twos and so on. During the leadership project and adventure trip planning it is important to help develop the leaders around us to their full potential, and not keep them below us because of our own insecurities as leaders. On the road to developing other leaders we need to be shared thinkers and unselfish thinkers. We need to share our experiences in hopes of one day having the people we lead become leaders and possibly lead better than we did. Next year, we will not be there to guide and assist the grade nines through planning processes preparing them to take on whatever is thrown at them next year.
There are two types of leaders that John C. Maxwell talked about, the travel agent leader and the tour guide leader. The travel agent leader is the type of leader that only tells people what they are supposed to do and sends them off. They are they type of person to send people places they have never been themselves. The tour guide leader, the kind of leader we want to be, are type of leader who guides people along the way. They take people places they have been many times before, telling them stories and sharing their insight along the way. During the planning of leadership projects and the spring adventure trips, it is important to be tour guide leaders. We have gained plenty of experience from last year and we know what the planning entails. We can plan, delegate, and execute alongside our group members trying to emulate what we learned from the grade tens last year. We must not be travel agent leaders, stating the end goal then sending people on their way. We must work people to get tasks done, giving them feedback, and assisting them along the way. As leaders we cannot always send people off by themselves, but we have to remember that it is not our job to have experiences for the people we are leading. As we plan our leadership projects and spring adventure trips, we must find a perfect balance. Making sure not to leave people stranded on an island by themselves, but also make sure we do not step on their toes and take experiences away from them.
I feel very privileged to have gone through another one of John C. Maxwell’s leadership tutorials this year. I learned so much and feel much more confident in developing my leadership abilities as well as the leadership abilities of those around me. Before I let you go, I have a question to ask: are you currently a travel agent leader or a tour guide leader, why do you think so?
Maxwell, J.C. (2014). Developing the Leaders Around You: How to Help Others Reach Their Full Potential. The John Maxwell Company.