Developing the Leaders Around You

The Law of the Chain

One concept that really stuck out to me in the first session of John C. Maxwell’s “Developing the Leaders Around You” was The Law of the Chain. This concept explores the idea that a leader’s success can only be as great as the people around them. A leader needs people to lead. Depending on those people who are being led, the team — and therefore the leader — will reach a certain level of success that greatly reflects the quality of work those group members contribute. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork states The Law of the Chain: “The Strength of the Team is Impacted by its Weakest Link.” Allow me to describe three different situations you might find yourself in when working in a 3-person group setting. (Aim for situation 1.)

  1. You could have a team in which all 3 members perform wonderfully — at a level 10.
    1. *Think: 10+10+10=30
  2. Or you could have a team with 2 people who perform at a level 10, but if the other 1 person (the weak link) either lacks the ability to make a change or lacks the desire to make a change at a level 5, the entire team suffers.
    1. *Think: ^10+10+10=30^ vs. 10+10+5=25
  3. The last situation you might find yourself in is a situation in which all 3 members — including you — have a low performance level. Maybe you are all 5’s.
    1. *Think: 25 or 30 vs. 5+5+5=15

Here, your overall group success has been cut directly in half. You do not want to be here. 

“Have you ever tried to use a chain with three weak links? I have, and now I no longer own an Arctic wolf.”

-Dwight K. Schrute

I have personally been a part of many situations like the ones I just described (thankfully more 1’s and 2’s than 3’s). Almost everyone has most likely been in these types of situations as well. After hearing John C. Maxwell’s description of The Law of the Chain concept, I immediately related it back to my own experiences and was able to make connections to strategies I might be able to use in the future. I believe it is important to explain and discuss this concept with team members at the beginning of any group project. This will set some ground rules for every member and will remind them of the group consequences of not working to the best of your individual ability. Further, by recruiting people to a team who are already leaders, or by taking on the task of training people to be leaders, performance levels will automatically start of higher, therefore providing the group with a higher chance of success. I will absolutely be able to use these strategies as I continue on with Leadership 11 and even in any group setting in school or at work in the future.

Types of Thinkers

In Session 2 of “Developing the Leaders Around You,” Maxwell suggests there are 10 types of leaders that all think in different ways. These 10 types of thinkers are as follows:

  1. Big Picture Thinkers
  2. Focused Thinkers
  3. Creative Thinkers
  4. Realistic Thinkers
  5. Strategic Thinkers
  6. Possibility Thinkers
  7. Reflective Thinkers
  8. Shared Thinkers
  9. Bottom-line Thinkers
  10. Unselfish Thinkers

One person can think in many of these ways, but John C. Maxwell challenges us to decide which top three ways of thinking the people around us exhibit. I would also challenge you to do the same for yourself. For example, I would say that I am a Reflective Thinker, a Focused Thinker, and an Unselfish Thinker. 

I chose this topic from Session 2 because I wholeheartedly believe that knowing how you think and the ways you think best, especially as a TALONS learner, are qualities that help you thrive both in and out of school. Being aware of my own strengths, weaknesses, wants, and fears very much helps me make decisions and know when to take charge in a leadership position and when to step back.

Everybody can use the same methods after finding out more about themselves and the ways they learn best. I would recommend sitting down and deciding what type(s) of thinker(s) you are before beginning any major or minor leadership project. I will definitely take the time to think about the people in my group as well. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of my individual team members, I can then begin to decide what our strengths and weaknesses are as a group

Thoughts About Modeling

The concept I chose to share from the third session is from the section: “Five Thoughts About Modeling.” Specifically, I want to discuss the first point that John C. Maxwell makes under this section. He suggests that “it is easier to teach what is right than to do what is right” (15). 

This idea particularly resonated with me, personally, because it made me realize just how often I tell others what they should be doing, or even have thoughts in my head about what they should and should not be doing. However, when I really delved into this concept, I came to the conclusion that I am sometimes not even doing what I wish others would do. Mr. Maxwell was 100% correct in saying that it is much easier to tell others what to do than to actually take action and do it yourself.

Even further, the lesson compares clarity and confusion. Essentially, when what you are telling others to do and what you are doing yourself is the same, your values and desires are very clear. However, when what you are telling others to do and what you are doing yourself is different, what you want is unclear, or confusing. 

The concepts I mentioned above are only too useful in the leadership world. Instead of thinking, “I wish someone would do [x],” think, “How can I take action on [x]?”

This change in thinking will help to ensure that tasks are being completed with willingness and excitement and that no one is left feeling unheard. If you have an opinion, voice it, instead of wishing someone else would. Once you get everything going, others will undoubtedly follow. 

6 Levels of Development and Growth

The concept I chose from the fourth and final “Developing the Leaders Around You” session is the suggestion that there are six levels of growth that your mentorees can be at. The higher the level, the more difficult it is to get others there. Your goal as a leader is to take the people you train as high as you can possibly take them. In this way, you will have reached success in your goals.

Level 1 has only some growth, and unfortunately this is the level that most mentorees are at.

Level 2 is where a good number of people are as well. Mentorees at this level have growth that makes them capable in their job.

Level 3 describes the pool of people who have been grown enough by their mentors to be able to train more leaders in their job.

Level 4 is where mentorees have growth that takes them to a job of a higher level.

Level 5 people have the ability to take others higher.

Level 6 is the most uncommon level, describing people who have growth that allows them to handle any job.

Besides using the definitions of each of these levels just to evaluate where we have taken others, I am also able to use them to find out more about myself and where I believe my mentors have taken me as a growing leader. The higher the level I am able to get to, the higher the level I will be able to take others to. By observing this chart and analyzing my own and others’ placements, I can gain a better understanding of what actions I need to take from here. In the future, this will benefit both me and my group members.

Lara Chamberlain

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