Sam Keller's TEC Blog

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Right To Lead

If you were asked "what gives a person the right to lead?", you may think the answer lies in position, rank, title, academic degrees, age, experience or ownership of the company. Author John Maxwell would disagree. In his book "The Right To Lead", he explains what gives a person the right to lead, a right that can only be earned. And that takes time.

The key to becoming an effective leader is not to focus on making other people follow, but on becoming the kind of person they want to follow.

To prepare to become a better leader, Maxwell suggests the following guidelines:

  1. Let go of your ego.

    The truly great leaders are not in leadership for personal gain. They lead in order to serve other people. Perhaps that is why Lawrence D. Bell remarked, "Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things, and I'll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things."

  2. Become a good follower first.

    Rare is the effective leader who didn't learn to become a good follower first. That is why a leadership institution such as the United State Military Academy teaches its officers to become effective followers first - and why West Point has produced more leaders than the Harvard Business School.

  3. Build positive relationships.

    Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. That means it is by nature relational. Today's generation of leaders seem particularly aware of this because title and position mean so little to them. They know intuitively that people go along with people they get along with.

  4. Work with excellence.

    No one respects and follows mediocrity. Leaders who earn the right to lead give their all to what they do. They bring into play not only their skills and talents, but also great passion and hard work. They perform on the highest level of which they are capable.

  5. Rely on discipline, not emotion.

    Leadership is often easy during the good times. It's when everything seems to be against you - when you're out of energy, and you don't want to lead - that you earn your place as a leader. During every season of life, leaders face crucial moments when they must choose between gearing up or giving up. To make it through those times, rely on the rock of discipline, not the shifting sand of emotion.

  6. Make adding value your goal.

    When you look at the leaders whose names are revered long after they have finished leading, you find that they were men and women who helped people to live better lives and reach their potential. That is the highest calling of leadership - and its highest value.

  7. Give your power away.

    One of the ironies of leadership is that you become a better leader by sharing whatever power you have, not by saving it all for yourself. You're meant to be a river, not a reservoir. If you use your power to empower others, your leadership will extend far beyond your grasp.

You can obtain a copy of "The Right To Lead" from Simple Truths. Click here for the link.

Other books by John Maxwell include "Today Matters" , "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership"and "Thinking For a Change".