Developing the Leader Within You Detailed Book Review

developing-the-leader-within-you-reviewTitle: Developing the Leader Within You
Author: John C. Maxwell
Year:  First published: 1993; New edition published: 17/12/2000
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Leadership, Business, Self-help
Get a copy: 1) Search in local bookstores to support small business 2) Amazon
Short Description: Is there some rare material, some unique code hidden in the DNA of leaders? Should I obtain a unique artifact to make other people follow my lead? No. Remember, most of the leaders you see on TV are made, not born. In this book, John Maxwell shares his experience and show us the best techniques to make other people follow you of their own choice.



John Maxwell is an honorable lector in the field of leadership. Every year, he speaks on events to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. In this book, which has already sold over a million copies, Dr. Maxwell shares his expertise in the art of building outstanding leaders. Regardless of where you are on the leaderboard’s ladder, the book will inspire you to excite the people around you through responsible visionary leadership.

If you have the desire – or perhaps you need – to become a leader, this book will definitely help you achieve the vision, influence, and motivation needed to succeed in this venture and lead people towards mutual success.


My Opinion

You don’t read a lot of books like this one.

Initially, you might think that it’s written specifically for people who’re leading companies or managing a staff of 100+ people. Yes, it offers a lot of information for such people but that doesn’t mean that is specifically for them. All of the research, data, information can be implemented in our daily lives. It’s more than can, the recommendations shared inside are a must for most of the people. You will not only become a better leader if you learn some of the things mentioned inside, you will become a better human being.

John Maxwell shares some of the most important qualities that every person who seeks success must adopt: How and why you should learn to manage the people around you; What you can do to influence people; How to become a reliable person; Why your main focus should be on helping others to lead. Full of fascinating stories and well-structured data, the book is super easy and fun to read. I was able to finish it in less than 3 days.

I will definitely recommend it to everyone searching for short, but valuable information on how to organize your company, team, but most importantly yourself.


Key Takeaways:

Notes, thoughts, and essential takeaways that I want to remember from the book. My main goal is to leave you with curated content, to which you can easily return to in the future for reference, that’s also holding the main insights of the book without spoiling what the book is all about:


Change Yourself Before Trying to Change Others

Maxwell tells a short story about a mystic guy who, when he was little prayed for the following: “God, give me the strength to change the world.” In the middle age, he realized that he hadn’t changed much in the world and started a new prayer: “God, give me the strength to change the people around me – my friends and family.” On his deathbed, he finally realized that he prayed for the wrong thing for his whole life and realized he had to pray for this all along: “Lord, give me your mercy to change myself.”

If you want to make a difference in your life, in any organization, you first need to change yourself, the way you act and the way you think. For instance, if you want to lose weight you will make certain changes in your daily schedule: you will eat less junk food and you will train regularly. This principle applies to everything. If you want your employees to be at work on time, you should be on time as well.

The leader is an agent of change. In this world of sudden, unexpected changes, the leader must always be at the forefront to promote change and growth, and to show ways to implement them.

I see a lot of people in leading positions who behave irresponsibly and wonder why the people they manage do the same. If you don’t try to understand people, don’t take responsibility, you’re not organized, can stay calm under pressure, have a big ego, then, don’t be surprised if your people behave the same way.

You have the power to change the world, still, don’t try to change the world first, change yourself instead.


Pareto principle

Discipline to keep up with your predefined priorities and the ability to work towards a set of goals are an essential part of the success of every person. You need to know how, and what to focus on in order to achieve the desired result. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.

The Pareto principle, a.k.a as the 80/20 rule, is worldwide popular. What it states is quite simple and based on years of experience and observations: 20 percent of your priorities will lead to 80 percent of your production. In other words, if you focus your time, effort, energy, money in the execution of 20 percent of the things you’re doing, it will lead to 80% of your income, production, positive results, or whatever you’re doing.

Let me give you a couple of examples so you can understand this principle a bit better:

  • 20 percent of your time produces 80 percent of the results.
  • 20 percent of the people we know engage 80 percent of our time.
  • 20 percent of the information inside any book contains 80 percent of the real insightful content.

It’s of great importance to understand this rule and apply it in every single aspect of your life: health, relationships, job, finances. Basically, 20 percent of everything you do brings 80% of the result. If you think about it for a moment you will see it’s true. On the surface, it’s like we’re constantly doing something but in reality, it’s quite different. If you remove the time you spend for cooking, traveling, checking emails, showering, sleeping, responding to tweets, chit-chatting with colleagues, resting, and etc., you will realize that we spent very little time on deep focused work. Everything around us is trying to steal our attention and it’s actually doing a preaty good job.

Sit down and think about which of your daily actions bring the best results and focus your time on doing them. Do everything possible to remove the fluff in your life that’s only making you think that you’re making a progress.



If we look at the dictionary for integrity, we will see this: “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”; “The state of being whole and undivided.” A very rare quality these days. Integrity refers to people who are honorable, have dignity, high moral and principles which they don’t violate regardless of the situation.

In a world where everything is focused on self-promotion, the fierce pursuit of self-satisfaction and quick success, there are rarely any principles left in the majority of the people. Integrity is that missing piece of the puzzle of becoming a great leader. You can surely lead without this quality but it will be only on paper. There are thousands of people who are promoted to a managing position but instead of trying to make it easy for the people under them, they watch only themselves.

A person with integrity doesn’t have double standards, he’s not a hypocrite and he doesn’t pretend to like something or someone. He’s honest and reasonable. He doesn’t judge without taking the time to hear both sides of the story. Such people are not afraid because they have nothing to hide. They speak with actions and they take care of the people who are around them. The honest man will concentrate on the person standing in front of him. He will do his best to understand his interlocutor and help if possible. He will rarely speak about himself if not asked. This is something really basic but speaks volumes.

I’m not gonna lie to you, most people don’t care about you. In 99% of the time, they’re simply waiting for you to finish your sentence so they can speak. If you’re wondering why you’re not climbing the corporate leader, if this is what you desire, then probably you’re lacking integrity. Acquiring this ability ain’t going to be easy. Still, it’s not impossible. You can start by following these three simple rules:

  1. Focus on others. Do your best to understand the other person and help him.
  2. Be disciplined and honest in every situation in your life.
  3. Set a list of principles and follow them regardless of what happens.


What’s your vision?

Another must-have quality for every leader and for basically every person who seeks to improve himself is the ability to have a clear and well-defined vision of what needs to happen next. As the famous quote by Lewis Carroll states: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” If you don’t know and you’re not trying to figure out what kind of job, craft you wanna do for the rest of your life, then, don’t get surprised if you’re working a low paid job with no opportunity to improve. A company without a clear vision and without a plan of how they can improve their services is already failing.

Having a clear vision of where you wanna go is something very basic, yet a lot of people don’t quite understand it. It’s like going on a vacation. If you don’t know where you’re going, you will probably end up sleeping in an old rusty hotel with no air conditioning. That’s why you take some time to book a hotel in advance and think about what you’re going to do when you get there. We do it constantly. We plan what we want to eat, what movie we want to watch, where we’re going to spend our Christmas Eve. Still, we rarely think about what we wanna do with our lives. That’s why we end up working for someone who has an ambition and guts to pursue his vision.

What you see is what you can be.

Sit down and write about the things you wanna do. Pain a picture in your head or even better, create a vision board. It’s something very popular and practiced by a lot of successful people and it’s really easy to setup. You simply need a sacred space that displays what you want from life. What you want to focus on and how to expand. When you create a vision board and place it in a space where you see it often, you essentially end up doing short visualization exercises throughout the day. Start simply, post pictures of the house you want to live it and the car you want to drive. Later, add the object related to the work you want to do.


Self-discipline will take you a long way

The toughest battle you’ll ever fight in your life is the battle within yourself.” Anonymous

I consider myself as quite an energetic person. A person who knows what he wants from life and is doing his best to get there. I hustle, as this sites states. And it’s not only me saying this, a lot of the people who know me will tell you the same thing. Still, there is a constant battle in my mind. My lazy self is doing everything possible to prevail and win the war. Some people call it the resistance, others weakness. I call it the Michelin devil.

Before I go to sleep, I set my alarm for 06:55. My intention is to get up at 07:00 and do a workout: either go for a run or exercise indoors. Looks easy, right? Not at all. When my alarm rings I’m not quite excited to get up and workout, like probably every other human being. My lazy self is trying to convince me that I have to go back to sleep. My desire, of course, is to get up. Sometimes, I fail. I oversleep and I exercise later in the day. These days I hate myself. I hate myself because I lost a fight. Even though I doing this routine for a couple of months now, not to say even years, I’m still struggling.

The ability to control yourself is something really hard to gain. Mainly, because it’s a continuous process, which lasts a lifetime. Your number one responsibility is to gain control over your life. Put this on a pedestal and work daily towards this goal. If we don’t learn how to lead ourselves, you will not be able to lead others. By organizing your possessions, actions, and thoughts, you’re setting a scene for a life full of successes. Remembers this.


Favorite Quote:

The effectiveness of your work will never rise above your ability to lead and influence others. You cannot produce consistently on a level higher than your leadership. In other words, your leadership skills determine the level of your success – and the success of those who work around you.” John C. Maxwell


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