Leadership is often a misunderstood word and can mean many things to many people. Some say a title makes you a leader, while others point to innate qualities or charismatic personalities. When trying to define leadership, we look to the world’s leading expert on the subject, John Maxwell. John has been ranked the #1 Leadership Expert in the world by Inc Magazine year after year and is globally recognized for his leadership teachings, writings and trainings. John says, “The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” When considering how powerful influence can be, it’s no wonder we all seek to increase our leadership skills.
As Les Brown notes, “There’s no such thing as a natural born heart surgeon. It’s a skill that must be learned and practiced.” Like heart surgeons, great leaders aren’t born. They are created through hard work and focused learning. What makes a great leader isn’t their title or their personality, but their ability to influence those around them. Even more, their abilities can be continually learned from and improved upon
In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell outlines the core principles that determine a person’s capability to lead. Luckily, all of the laws demonstrate and support that leadership skills can be learned and intentionally practiced, meaning that our own level of leadership is ultimately determined by ourselves and our commitment to bettering our skills. In fact, the very first law in the book is the “Law of the Lid,” which states, “Leadership Ability Determines a Person’s Level of Effectiveness.” In other words, when you lift the lid on your leadership ability through intentional learning and growing, you increase your impact as a leader.
For John Maxwell, most leadership skills center on finding ways to add value to others, focusing on growth and learning, doing the right thing, and staying disciplined. All of these skills can be strengthened through numerous activities. Some of the most impactful practices, according to John, are those that require you to get a little uncomfortable and to dig a little deeper. Here are some highlights of John Maxwell’s best practices for increasing your leadership skills.
Truly Value Others – Effective leaders go beyond not harming others; they intentionally help others. They must value people and demonstrate that they care in such a way that their followers know it.
Know Your Audience – Whether speaking to a large group or one-on-one with an employee, it’s important to understand the person or people across from you. When you work with individuals, knowing your audience means learning people’s names, finding out their histories, and asking them about their dreams. When you communicate to an audience, you learn about the organization and its goals. You want to speak about what they care about.
The Most Valuable Gift a Leader Can Give Is Being a Good Example – More than anything else, employees want leaders whose beliefs and actions line up. We should work on improving ourselves before trying to improve others. A great danger to good leadership is the temptation to try to change others without first making changes to yourself. To remain a credible leader, it is essential to work first, work hard, and work the longest on improving yourself! This is essential. If our primary mission is on improving ourselves, others are more likely to follow.
Leaders Make Sure Their Conclusions Represent Both Faith and Fact – A leader has to possess a positive attitude. If you can’t confidently make the trip in your mind, you’re not going to be able to take it in real life. On the other hand, you also have to be able to see the facts realistically. If you don’t go in with your eyes wide open, you’re going to get blindsided.
These are just a handful of examples of how to increase your leadership skills highlighted in John’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Although they may seem simple, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily easy. Leadership skills, like any other set of skills, takes time, patience, and practice. In the book John includes “The Law of the Process,” which states, “leaders develop daily, not in a day.” This focuses on the fact that for those wishing to develop their leadership skills, it requires a dedicated and continuous effort. When something as impactful as influence is on the line, it’s a wonder that everyone doesn’t focus their attention on developing their leadership skills.
If you’d like John’s help developing your leadership skills, click here to find out more about becoming part of his global John Maxwell Team to start intentionally raising your leadership lid.
Shila Morris is a classic entrepreneur at heart with several businesses and interests. She is the President and co-owner of the Squeeze In breakfast and lunch restaurant chain and has helped the business grow from one location to five and break into the franchising industry. She is also vice-president and co-owner of YoungSocial, a marketing, events and communications agency for high profile clients. Shila is passionate about helping business owners and entrepreneurs become successful and often volunteers and speaks to groups across the United States on the topics of leadership, restaurant industry, marketing and motivation. Her appearances include delivering a TEDx speech at the University of Nevada Reno, introducing First Lady Michelle Obama at a local event, and teaching workshops on marketing for the John Maxwell Team at the biannual International Maxwell Certification. She lives in Reno Nevada with her husband Chad and their three children Wesley, Emerie and Annadelle and is currently studying at the University of Nevada Reno for her Masters degree in Sociology.