You most likely have heard at least some of John C. Maxwell's leadership principles, even if you haven't consciously connected those principles with him. Have you read his Developing the Leader Within You, the book in which he clearly stated that investing in yourself as a leader will increase your effectiveness, deduct from your weaknesses, divide your workload, and multiply your impact.
Fundamental Qualities of a Great Leader
Good leaders become great leaders because of their ability to empower others. Great leaders never strive to increase their own authority; instead, they focus on giving it away.
Great leaders are aware of the activities that give them the greatest return and concentrate on those. Their best job is performed when they enjoy it. First, they find something that they really like to do and gladly would do for free. Next, they learn to do it with excellence so that people are happy to pay them for it.
When people love their work, it can easily consume them. Great leaders intentionally create margin in their life. Margin is the space that exists between the load and the limits. So instead of filling every space in their calendar, great leaders protect white space, allowing themselves to rest and grow.
Great leaders strive to be coaches not kings. Their goal is to transport their team from point A to point B. How do they do it? They invest in their team to bring out the best in them. They help their team reach deeper and discover their potential. They serve their team in the true sense of servant leadership.
Most people spend time with others but very few people invest time and energy with others. Great leaders find ways to invest in their team. They never stop learning and they pay attention to what they learn because they will then intentionally share what they've learned with others.
The ultimate goal in developing a team is to help each individual transform their lives. While the act of teaching may help someone’s life improve, true personal development helps change their lives from within.
Leadership and vulnerability
Some leaders may be concerned that if they reveal their mistakes they will lose credibility.
However, vulnerability builds trust and unity. So instead of a leader only sharing their success, great leaders share the weaknesses and the hardships that they experienced to reach excellence.
As a leader, think of your life as a puzzle, made up of pieces that had to be figured out to become something beautiful. It’s powerful because failure and hardship are not about using another’s struggles to feel better about ourselves; rather, as we accept and recognize our own failures, we can acknowledge our common humanity. And that is where empathy is born.
Leadership and vision
A leader's influence is essential to the effectiveness of their leadership. For great leaders, their true influence starts in their hearts and not their heads. People buy into a leader first because of who they are and then because of their vision.
A leader’s character determines their vision, and their vision determines the direction for their lives. Since vision is based on an individual’s passion, it is impossible to borrow somebody else’s vision. A leader’s vision must come from a passion within. Once they find it and nurture it they gain clarity, great leaders can invite others into their vision and lead them into a beautiful journey with confidence and direction.
One of the most important aspects of a great leader is possessing an “influencer” mindset in which their vision is cast to their team members. This is what separates those who get things done from those who just dream about what can be.
Leadership and facing obstacles
Great leaders do not become complacent, and they never become satisfied with yesterday’s success. They see what can be and they continually seek to achieve it. They don’t see their obstacles as stumbling blocks. Instead, they use obstacles as stepping stones and they keep going because they know that growth is a choice, not a function of circumstance. The struggles they experience make the successes achieved worthwhile.
The endless potential that great leaders see drives them to get better, to accomplish more, and to lead their team to expand into new territories. The future belongs to people who are dedicated to making the world, their teams, and themselves better.