As CLS marketing director, I spend a lot of my time trying to improve my leadership skills. My goal is constantly to find new ways to help my team become the best they can be. In my search for new resources, I recently came across a book I would like to share with Insight readers: Developing the Leaders around You: How to Help Others Reach Their Full Potential, by John C. Maxwell.

This book impressed me in many ways. Not only is it quite insightful, but it is a learning tool that can be used to build leadership skills. As the title suggests, this book focuses on the most important factor in leadership; how to recognize and develop leaders. It also emphasizes making this factor a lifelong commitment that can have lasting effects on producing leaders for generations to come.

This book’s chapters range from rising up and creating a climate for potential leaders, to realizing leaders’ value. A leader’s key question should be, “Am I raising potential leaders?” People who oversee others must be responsible for appreciating them, believing they will do their best, praising them for accomplishments and, yes, accepting responsibility for them as their leader. Each situation and sector is different, but these examples will provide a good framework to learn and grow.

A true leader knows he or she cannot do it alone. Further, it takes a leader with vision to see the future leader within a person. The leader should look for qualities such as positivity, growth potential, loyalty and gratitude, just to name a few. If the leader finds just one of these attributes, he or she should give 100 percent encouragement to that one attribute. From that point, the leader should then place emphasis on production and not on position and title.

My team is our team. In our team, each individual is the expert with his or her duties; however, we all collaborate with future responsibilities. Maxwell describes it best: “True direction for an organization is born with a vision. It begins when the leader accepts it. It gains acceptance when the leader models it. And it becomes reality when the people respond to it.”

The leader’s primary responsibility is identifying potential leaders. The more positive qualities a leader looks for, the more he or she will find. This is not an easy job, but very necessary to build future success of the team and organization as a whole.

The first thing a leader should do is assess the needs and attitudes of candidates. Maxwell then delves into an assessment of current leadership qualities. The assessment is a series of attributes with a scale. This final number could offer a little insight into whether or not one is a great leader or needs further growth.

Maxwell focuses on nurturing and developing potential leaders, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise. One of my favorite chapters is coaching a “dream team” of leaders. If all sports teams need a coach, corporate teams are no different. Leaders need to choose great players and coaching can make a difference in succeeding. A dream coach constantly communicates the game plan, takes time to huddle and knows what the players prefer. A dream coach also excels in problem solving and providing needed support for success. The coach must involve others as much as possible in key decisions. Again, the players are the experts and they should decide how jobs will be accomplished. Great coaches give plenty of affirmation and the players respond accordingly.

This chapter is important to me because players should be included and feel they are the best to complete tasks at hand. Coaching is a huge part of developing potential leaders and they can pass this same mindset on to others. And, let’s not forget, a dream coach continues to win.

Maxwell not only discusses developing potential leaders but helps the reader realize his or her potential. If you are looking for a new paradigm for developing a team, and developing yourself as a leader, check out Developing the Leaders Around You.

July 17, 2015

Developing the Leaders Around You

John C. Maxwell's book focuses on the most important factor in leadership: knowing how to recognize and develop leaders.
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