Whenever a discussion about leadership comes up in conversation, someone is always going to bring up the name John Maxwell. Maxwell, who is a trained and experienced pastor who passionately loves Christ and Kingdom work, has also greatly impacted the secular world with his leadership principles.
John has sold more than 18 million books and has trained more than 5 million leaders around the world with his non-profit organization called EQUIP. His latest book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, shares John’s five principles and five practices for breaking the invisible barrier to leadership and personal success. You can follow John on Twitter HERE or join him on Facebook HERE.
Here are 10 questions with leader John Maxwell:
When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?
From my earliest memory, I’ve known that I was going to be a pastor. My brother and I even played church together when we were little. I was a senior pastor leading churches for 26 years. During that time, I felt God call me to teach leadership, which I began doing with fellow pastors. As time went by, more and business people came to learn leadership from me. I left the full-time pastorate in 1995 to teach leadership, now not only to pastors and business people, but also to educators, government leaders, and others. And through my nonprofit organization, EQUIP, we’ve been able to train millions of leaders worldwide.
What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?
One of my first jobs was in a meat packing plant. And being the high-energy, curious person that I was, I wanted to learn everything I could about what we did. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the general attitude at the plant. They actually told me to slow down at my work and stop asking questions. As one worker told me, “Look, I just kill the cows and go home.”
From that experience, I realized that I wanted to be in work that was mentally stimulating and engaging with people.
Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?
My father, definitely. I grew up in a leader’s household. He modeled good leadership and taught me and my brother how to lead. His influence has impacted everything I do. He’s my hero.
Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?
Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders. That’s the book that really made me aware that everything rises and falls on leadership.
What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?
Energy, passion, encouragement.
What is your greatest strength in leadership?
Understanding people and caring about them. That’s really at the heart of leadership, isn’t it? If you don’t care about people, you shouldn’t try to lead them.
What is your greatest weakness in leadership?
Hiring. I’ve made some messes there. That’s because I believe so much in people that I tend to see only the best in them. I believe anyone CAN grow, so I can make a mistake in thinking that everyone WILL grow.
What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?
This goes with the last question. The hardest thing for me is to realize that not everyone continues on the journey with you. Saying goodbye as I move forward and others stay behind is very sad for me. But it’s important for every leader to learn that sometimes people either can’t, won’t or shouldn’t go the whole distance with us.
What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?
Of course, I’m not senior pastor anymore. I still preach several times a year for my friend Tom Mullins at Christ Fellowship in West Palm Beach, but I don’t lead anything there. But from my years of experience, I’d say that people seem to think that being the top leader in an organization means you have ultimate freedom. The reality is that if you’re doing leadership the right way, then the higher you go, the less freedom and more responsibilities you have. The path gets narrower.
If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders, from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?
Pay the price for growth. People won’t give you credit when you’re early in the journey, but keep growing, learning, leading. The return doesn’t often come till years later, but it’s worth the price.
Wow, did you get the education I just received from John? Has John Maxwell had the impact on you that he has had and continues to have on me as a leader?
I happen to know some from the Maxwell team will be reading this…maybe even Mr. Maxwell himself…take a couple minutes to pay tribute to him here if he has helped your leadership grow.