Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader (1999) Book Review

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader:
Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow (1999)
by John C. Maxwell

"Everything rises and falls on leadership": that is what John Maxwell always emphasis in every book on leadership that he wrote. I've been his student, learner and (hopefully) practitioner of leadership since I was promoted to become Assistant Manager at Golden Screen Cinema (GSC) Times Square KL 9 years ago and now I continue as Staff Worker at Fellowship of Evangelical Students (FES) Malaysia. I don't know how to lead well then, and I'm still learning now. I wish to learned leadership my entire life. Great leaders don't become great in a moment – or in a month or a year or even after almost 10 years. They become great leaders one day at a time through their entire lifetimes. I'll never finish. I'll never completely arrive. I'll constantly and continuously find new ways to serve and improve my skills and attitude to become a better leader. The Law of Process says that leadership develops daily, not in a day.

I pick this book because I'm curious about this question: What makes people want to follow a leader? "The answer," writes Maxwell, "lies in the character qualities of the individual person." What qualities? Maxwell summits that there are 21 indispensables (essential, crucial, vital) qualities that a leader must have. "Leaders are effective because of who they are on the inside – in the qualities that make them up as people. And to go to the highest level of leadership, people have to develop these traits from the inside out." If I become the leader I ought to be on the inside, I will be able to become the leader I want to be on the outside. People will want to follow me. Ah, here is the key: learn and practice these qualities and people will want to follow you.

Even though this book has short chapters and small volume (only 157 pages), I don't read this book with speed-reading like I use to other books. Maxwell encourages his readers to "live with this book for a while. Read a chapter, and then give it some time. Use it to reflect, review and renew." I spent a little bit longer on my weak qualities – reflect on the questions, taking notes and begin to practice some – before I move to other qualities. For example, I'm really weak in listening and relationships qualities, and so I spent a bit longer in both areas. I can instantly connect with qualities like initiative and teachability, so I read it quickly but with cautions (not to be overconfident). Here are The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader lists by John C. Maxwell:

#1 CHARACTER:  Be a Piece of the Rock
#2 CHARISMA: The First Impression Can Seal the Deal
#3 COMMITMENT: It Separates Doers from Dreamers
#4 COMMUNICATION: Without It You Travel Alone
#5 COMPETENCE: If You Build It, They Will Come
#6 COURAGE: One Person with Courage Is a Majority
#7 DISCERNMENT: Put an End to Unsolved Mysteries
#8 FOCUS: The Sharper It Is, the Sharper You Are
#9 GENEROSITY: Your Candle Loses Nothing When It Lights Another
#10 INITIATIVE: You Won't Leave Home Without It
#11 LISTENING: To Connect with Their Hearts, Use Your Ears
#12 PASSION: Take This Life and Love It
#13 POSITIVE ATTITUDE: If You Believe You Can, You Can
#14 PROBLEM SOLVING: You Can't Let Your Problems Be a Problem
#15 RELATIONSHIPS: If You Get Along, They'll Go Along
#16 RESPONSIBILITY: If You Won't Carry the Ball, You Can't Lead the Team
#17 SECURITY: Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity
#18 SELF-DISCIPLINE: The First Person You Lead Is You
#19 SERVANTHOOD: To Get Ahead, Put Others First
#20 TEACHABILITY: To Keep Leading, Keep Learning
#21 VISION: You Can Seize Only What You Can See

I listened to audiobook too so that I can instill all of these qualities in my mind and hopeful in my walk as a leader. Since I already read Maxwell's other book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (I will listen to the audiobook all over again), I find that this one is a great complimentary companion for it. If you want to be a good leader and desire others to follow you, buy and read this book! Highly recommend. After all, "He who thinks he leads but has no followers, is only taking a walk."


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