The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow
by John C. Maxwell
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 176 pages, $13.59

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One of the best ways to learn about leading is to pinpoint the characteristics of great leaders and follow in their footsteps. Whether you want to focus on passion, vision, or listening, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader touches on each trait and discusses how to cultivate them within yourself. Supervisors at all levels will appreciate Maxwell's concise style and his daily take-aways that encapsulate lessons. This book can be referred to for quick reference when a situation arises, and odds are it will have a novel, insightful prescription for dealing with the problem.

In the first chapter, Maxwell states that "Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character." Although managers can reach a level of success, ultimately, their character (which is revealed by the choices they make) will activate their leadership ability. Examining the character of Bill Lear, the father of the Lear jet, illustrates Maxwell's theory. Lear put his reputation on the line when he tested his airplane designs in midair to improve safety. Because he had the character to do it himself and risk his life, this defined Lear as a leader with core values.

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader doesn't flinch at getting beneath the exterior of supervisors to take a close look at their motivations. The writing disassembles managers, then puts them back together with practical insights on how to apply leadership qualities. They are:

  • Show Up Every Day
  • Keep Improving
  • Follow Through With Excellence
  • Accomplish More Than Expected
  • Inspire Others

Maxwell's inside out approach to leadership stresses how vital it is to implement these lessons on a daily basis. He believes that every leader is a leader first to themselves, and correctly observes that the desire to serve others is at the heart of leadership. Although you may be tempted to race through the text, it's more effective to spend time with each of the sections and reflect on them. Whether supervisors are proven or are in new leadership roles, they will benefit from these easy to put into practice leadership lessons.

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