John C. Maxwell – 360 Leader Blog Post

360 Leader Reflection


     Reading the 360* Leader by John C. Maxwell, there were many thought-provoking ideas and key takeaways. Many lessons apply to the school environment, especially to TALONS and Leadership. For me, the message that maturity comes with accepting responsibility, investing in a vision makes it become your own, and the idea of competing with versus completing those around you stood out the most.

“Maturity doesn’t come with age. It begins with the acceptance of responsibility.” – Ed Cole (Maxwell, 2006). This quote stood out to me because I believe its message is something that I need to understand to grow in my journey as a leader. For me, this quote was a realization not to expect to mature just because I grow in age. Instead, take on more responsibilities and new challenges to grow as a leader and develop in thought and action. In fact, in his book, John Maxwell states that “…one of the quickest ways to gain leadership is problem solving.” (Maxwell, 2006). Not only can you mature through accepting responsibilities, it proves your abilities and will propel you to higher positions while also gaining the trust of others. Again, I chose this idea because it’s something that I believe directly applies to my own life, yet something I forget to carry out in my daily life a lot of the time. I struggle with taking up leadership roles, so this quote reminded me of the importance of taking on all chances given to me, actively seeking out more opportunities to lead and follow, and taking away from those experiences. While this quote applies to me personally, I think it can also apply to the TALONS program and its members. Considering that TALONS is a school program, there is an emphasis on growth – growth in the community, growth as an individual, and growth as a student body. Furthermore, taking initiative is an emphasized part of the program, so I think this quote perfectly ties in those two aspects of TALONS into two sentences that all members should understand. Overall, this quote was a wake-up call for me more than anything else that I can’t expect to grow my leadership skills while being passive. 

The second idea that stuck with me was this: “The more you invest in the vision, the more it becomes your own.” (Maxwell, 2006). In other words, the more you are involved with a project, the prouder you will be once completed, and the sense of achievement/accomplishment will be exponentially higher than if you weren’t as invested. Going beyond just the project itself, being more invested in a team or group project can allow you to form closer bonds/relationships with your group members. Naturally, as you all work towards a unified goal, you will become closer with each other, and John Maxwell even commented that “Relationship skills define 360* Leaders and separate them from other leaders.” (Maxwell, 2006) This message of investing in a vision, project, or goal is relevant personally as I often cannot jump headfirst into a new task. Such is the case if I get assigned to a project I dislike or have to work with someone I am not on the best terms with. However, as the first quote states, the more I invested into projects, I grew to like them more, and as I worked more with people I disliked, I began to enjoy working with them a bit more (most of the time). This concept of putting effort into something to make it your own is just as relevant in TALONS, where there are many group projects like cultural events, fall trips, and spring trips. While these projects aren’t long-term visions like the quote says, they still give students the chance to exercise their teamwork, leadership and the opportunity to make the project their own. Arguably, the TALONS program itself, trip planning, and projects are visions to some level – all of which are carried out by those in the TALONS program. To truly create a thriving community, everyone must take ownership and feel that the visions they work for are at some level of their own. This furthers my leadership by pushing me to participate more in the program and larger community to help those around me and improve my leadership skills.

Finally, the last point that left the strongest impression on me from John Maxwell’s 360* Leader book was the idea of competing vs completing when leading across. First off, what does leading across mean? In his book, John Maxwell uses ‘leading across’ to talk about leading your peers. Competing versus completing is the difference between competing with others around you to climb up the ladder on your own versus working with others to improve them and allow them to further you as well. As students, most of the people we come across in our daily lives are our peers – whether at school, clubs, or teams. Due to this being the case, I believe that learning to complete others rather than compete with them all the time is a valuable tool to have. In TALONS, this is especially true, where a hierarchy of sorts with clear responsibilities exists. In such an environment, everyone must work together to complete one another rather than compete. For how can the program run properly if the members that make it up to try to tear each other down? As for me, this concept can help me improve my leadership skills by understanding that leadership isn’t about being the best all the time, but being the best from where I am at and being a team player.