How Leading Changed John Maxwell

I sent a note to John Maxwell. This is part of his reply.

How has leading changed you?

That’s almost like asking how breathing has changed me. Leadership has impacted every aspect of my life.

Early in my career, I discovered that everything rises and falls on leadership, and it changed the way I led. My focus turned to growing as a leader and helping others become leaders as well. I also worked on intentionally leading myself better. (I’ve discovered that the hardest person I ever led was me.)

The biggest change:

But the thing that leadership has changed the most about me is the realization that leadership is all about other people. Good leaders can’t be selfish. They’ve got to put other people and the organization first. Sometimes that means doing unpleasant things and making sacrifices.

Most people think of leadership as privilege. But I’ve come to see leadership as service. And now that I’m in my mid-60s, I’m more focused on legacy and what my leadership can do for others during the prime years I have left, as well as after I’m gone.


Maxwell challenges leaders to take responsibility when he says “everything rises and falls on leadership.” It’s a daunting statement that demands we understand core principles of leading. In one sense everything depends on you, in another, everything depends on them.

5 Ways to bear the responsibility of leading:

  1. Develop yourself and rely on others.
  2. Leverage your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
  3. Never pretend you are all-competent. You’ll be crushed by stress.
  4. Build a team of competent individuals who take ownership. “The team with the best players wins,” Jack Welch.
  5. Believe that leading is about developing and enabling others.
More from John Maxwell on next week …

I shared some of my responses to Maxwell’s comments. What are yours?


Part 2 of John’s reply: “How John Maxwell Navigates Leadership



John’s latest book: “The Five Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential,” is written in John’s typical style. You’ll find it easy to read, practical, and actionable.