The Position Myth

If I had to identify the number one misconception people have about leadership, it would be the belief that leadership comes simply from having a position or title. But nothing could be further from the truth. You don’t need to possess a position at the top of your group, department, division, or organization in order to lead. If you think you do, then you have bought into the position myth.

A place at the top will not automatically make anyone a leader. The Law of Influence in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership states it clearly: “The true measure of leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.”

Because I have led volunteer organizations most of my life, I have watched many people become tied up by the position myth. When people who buy into this myth are identified as potential leaders and put on a team, they are very uncomfortable if they have not been given some kind of title or position that labels them as leaders in the eyes of other team members. Instead of working to build relationships with others on the team and to gain influence naturally, they wait for the positional leader to invest them with authority and give them a title. After a while, they become more and more unhappy, until they finally decide to try another team, another leader, or another organization.

—The 360° Leader – John Maxwell



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People Will Add Value to Your Strength

People often ask me what the key to my success is. And I tell them that I think it can be attributed to three things: (1) the goodness of God; (2) the excellent people around me; and (3) my ability to stay in my strength zone. It took the first five years of my professional life to figure out what my strengths were. But with the passing of years since then, I’ve narrowed my focus down to fewer and fewer things.

As a leader and employer, I try to help others do the same. I help them find their strength zones, and I try to position them there as much as possible. You see, a successful person finds the right place for himself. But a successful leader finds the right place for others. How do I do that?

First, I look for the best in others. Anybody can see weaknesses, mistakes, and shortcomings in others. Seeing only the good things is harder. Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson said, “A great manager has a knack for making ballplayers think they are better than they think they are. He lets you know he believes in you. And once you learn how good you really are, you never settle for playing anything less than your very best.” That’s true in any area of life: business, parenting, marriage, ministry, and so forth. Don’t look for the flaws, warts, and blemishes in others. Look for their best.

Second, I speak up. You can think the world of others, but if you never actually tell them, then you don’t really help them. I have always believed that all people have a “success seed” within them. I often look at other people and ask, “What are their success seeds?” When I discover them, I point them out to those individuals. Then I fertilize those seeds with encouragement and water them with opportunity.

—25 Ways to Win with People – John Maxwell

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Trust: Important Element in Relationship

If you boil relationships down to the most important element, it’s always going to be trust — not leadership, value, partnership, or anything else. If you don’t have trust, your relationship is in trouble.

In his book On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis says, “Integrity is the basis of trust, which is not so much an ingredient of leadership as it is a product. It is the one quality that cannot be acquired but must be earned. It is given by coworkers and followers, and without it, the leader can’t function.”

That can be said not only of leaders and followers, but also of all relationships. Developing trust is like constructing a building. It takes time, and it must be done one piece at a time. As in construction, it’s much quicker and easier to tear something down than it is to build it up. But if the foundation is strong, there is a good chance that what is built upon it will stand.

When two people trust each other completely, the relationship can grow to a level of friendship that is as rewarding as anything in life. It reaches the highest heights. Writer and chaplain to Queen Victoria, Charles Kingsley, said, “A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults.”

—Winning with People – John Maxwell


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Remember Their Good Days, Not Their Bad Ones

We all have good days and bad days. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be remembered for my good ones. And I can only ask to be forgiven for my bad ones. Fuller Theological Seminary Professor David Augsburger observes, “Since nothing we intend is ever faultless, and nothing we achieve without some measure of finitude and fallibility we call humanness, we are saved by forgiveness.” If you desire to mine the gold of good intentions in others, then forgiveness is essential. And it’s rarely a one-time thing. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.”

And remember, it is with the attitude with which you judge others that you will also be judged. If you mine the gold of good intentions in your relationship with others, then people will more likely do the same for you.

—25 Ways to Win with People – John Maxwell


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Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

A merry heart does good, like medicine. PROVERBS 17:22

I work with a lot of leaders. And one thing I’ve found is that many times they take themselves much too seriously. Of course, they’re not alone. I meet people in every walk of life who have too much doom and gloom in their attitudes. They simply need to lighten up. No matter how serious your work is, that’s no reason to take yourself seriously.

If any person had a reason to take his job and himself seriously, it would be a president of the United States. Yet it’s possible for even people holding that position to maintain their sense of humor and keep their egos in check. For example, when Calvin Coolidge was asked if he was attending the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the President answered, “Yes.”

“Why are you going, Mr. President?” a reporter asked.
“As an exhibit,” answered the rotund Coolidge.

If you tend to take yourself too seriously, give yourself and everyone else around you a break. Recognize that laughter breeds resilience. Laughing is the quickest way to get up and get going again when you’ve been knocked down.

– Failing Forward – John Maxwell

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To Teamwork, Add Friendship

Why do I recommend that you work to develop friendships on the job? Friendship Is the Foundation of Influence: President Abraham Lincoln said, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.” Good relationships make influence possible, and friendship is the most positive relationship you can develop on the job with your coworkers.

Friendship Is the Framework for Success: I believe long-term success is unachievable without good people skills. Theodore Roosevelt said, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” Without it, most achievements are not possible, and even what we do achieve can feel hollow.

Friendship Is the Shelter Against Sudden Storms: If you’re having a bad day, who can make you feel better? A friend. When you have to face your fears, who would you rather do it with? A friend. When you fall on your face, who can help pick you up? A friend. Aristotle was right when he said, “True friends are a sure refuge.”

—The 360° Leader – John Maxwell


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Growing to Your Potential

Novelist H. G. Wells held that wealth, notoriety, place, and power are no measures of success whatsoever. The only true measure of success is the ratio between what we might have been and what we have become. In other words, success comes as the result of growing to our potential.

It’s been said that our potential is God’s gift to us, and what we do with it is our gift to him. But at the same time, our potential is probably our greatest untapped resource. Henry Ford observed, “There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.”

We have nearly limitless potential, yet too few ever try to reach it. Why? The answer lies in this: We can do anything, but we can’t do everything. Many people let everyone around them decide their agenda in life. As a result, they never really dedicate themselves to their purpose in life. They become a jack-of-all-trades, master of none—rather than a jack-of-few- trades, focused on one.

If that describes you more than you’d like, you’re probably ready to take steps to make a change. There are four principles to put you on the road to growing toward your potential:

1. Concentrate on one main goal.
2. Concentrate on continual improvement.
3. Forget the past.
4. Focus on the future.

When you know your purpose in life and are growing to reach your maximum potential, you’re well on your way to being a success.

—Your Road Map for Success – John Maxwell – The Daily Reader

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