The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader – John C. Maxwell Book Summary

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader – John C. Maxwell | Free Book Summary

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader – John C. Maxwell

Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.

Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.

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Positive attitude: If you believe you can, you can

If you desire to be an effective leader, having a positive attitude is essential. It not only determines your level of contentment as a person, but it also has an impact on how others interact with you.

The greatest discovery of this generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude.

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Problem Solving: You Can’t Let Your Problems Be a Problem

PROBLEM SOLVING: You Can’t Let Your Problems Be a Problem


No leader can simultaneously have his head in the sand and navigate his people through troubled waters. Effective leaders face up to the reality of a situation.

The ability to solve problems effectively comes from experience facing and overcoming obstacles. Each time you solve another problem, you get a little better at the process. But if you never try, fail, and try again, you’ll never be good at it.

Relationships: If You Get Along, They’ll Go Along

The first quality of a relational leader is the ability to understand how people feel and think.  

  • They like to feel special, so sincerely compliment them.
  • They want a better tomorrow, so show them hope.
  • They desire direction, so navigate for them.
  • They are selfish, so speak to their needs first.
  • They get low emotionally, so encourage them.
  • They want success, so help them win.

Responsibility: If You Won’t Carry the Ball, You Can’t Lead the Team

Good leaders never embrace a victim mentality.

They recognize that who and where they are, remains their responsibility— not that of their parents, their spouses, their children, the government, their bosses, or their coworkers.

They face whatever life throws at them and give it their best, knowing that they will get an opportunity to lead the team only if they’ve proved that they can carry the ball.

Security: Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity

No one can live on a level inconsistent with the way he sees himself. You may have observed that in people. If someone sees himself as a loser, he finds a way to lose. Anytime his success surpasses his security, the result is self-destruction. That’s not only true for followers, but it’s also true for leaders.

Insecure Leaders

Insecure leaders are dangerous—to themselves, their followers, and the organizations they lead—because a leadership position amplifies personal flaws. Whatever negative baggage you have in life only gets more difficult to bear when you’re trying to lead others.

Self-discipline: The First Person You Lead Is You

As a leader, you already have too little time. Now all you need is a plan. If you can determine what’s really a priority and release yourself from everything else, it’s a lot easier to follow through on what’s important. And that’s the essence of self-discipline.

The first and best victory is to conquer self.

Teachability: To Keep Leading, Keep Learning

If a leader already possesses influence and has achieved a level of respect, why should he keep growing? The answer is simple:

  • Your growth determines who you are.
  • Who you are determines who you attract.
  • Who you attract determines the success of your organization.
  • If you want to grow your organization, you have to remain teachable.

Vision: You Can Seize only What You Can See

To improve your vision, do the following:

•Measure yourself. If you have previously thought about the vision for your life and articulated it, measure how well you are carrying it out.

•Write it down. If you’ve thought about your vision but never put it in writing, take the time to do it today. Writing clarifies your thinking.

•Do a gut check. If you haven’t done a lot of work on vision, spend the next several weeks or months thinking about it. Consider what really impacts you at a gut level.

Answer The Three Questions

What makes you cry?

What makes you dream?

What gives you energy?

Also think about what you’d like to see change in the world around you. What do you see that isn’t—but could be? Once your ideas start to become clearer, write them down and talk to a mentor about them.

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