Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Right to Lead: A Study in Character and Courage by John Maxwell

In the book, The Right to Lead: A Study in Character and Courage, Mr. Maxwell uses inspirational stories and quotes to illustrate seven things that a truly good leader must do. These things are: take action, have a vision, self-sacrifice, take risks, have determination, service to others, and possess integrity. Without these aspects of character, a leader would be far less effective in his mission.

Aspect one: take action. You will never become a leader by sitting on the sidelines. A truly great leader is out there, with his or her followers, encouraging, supporting, and going through everything that they have asked those under them to go through. Leadership is about walking the road with your people, not about handing them a map and saying ‘Have fun!’

Aspect two: have a vision. Proverbs 29:18a says “Where there is no vision, the people perish:” A leader, taking into account what they are passionate about, what they have learned, what the needs of those around them are, what the bigger picture is, what God has planned for them, and what their resources are, then can have a life-altering message to share with the world. Once they have the perspective of who they are and what God has brought them through, they can go out and influence the lives of those around them. Once they have a vision that is bigger than them, they can be a leader worth following.

Aspect three: self-sacrifice. Once you surrender your own security, your own comfort, or your own desires, and place the needs and safety of those under you before your own, then you can be a great leader. Leadership is not about what you can gain, but about what you have to give.

Aspect four: take risks. The important thing in this quality is the difference between risk and recklessness. Recklessness is carelessness and lack of responsibility; risk is to lay out your life or your safety for the benefit and protection of others. Value others more than you value your own comfort and security. A wise leader will take only calculated risks that have been thoroughly evaluated.

Aspect five: have determination. Again, leadership is about being in the thick of what you have asked your people to do, so why on earth should they keep going if you have a history of quitting when the road gets rough? Nothing great was ever done by someone that did not possess the fortitude and resolve to keep on when the odds were stacked against them and it looked like a lost cause. Take the story of the Shackleton expedition for instance; the situation was literally hopeless, they should have all been lost to the sea or the brutal elements. Yet, through the courage and tenacious determination of their captain, not a single man was lost.

Aspect six: service to others. Humility, an indispensible quality for a great leader, is simply realizing that you are where you are today because of the investment of others in your life. Leadership is serving others with this humility, empowering them to go on and become great leaders as well. It is necessary to lay down your own desires, comfort, and time in order to best equip those under you.

Aspect seven: possess integrity. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” A leader is nothing without their character honorable and intact. No one will follow someone whom cannot be trusted to make decisions or looked to in times of struggle.

Leadership is not a job; it is a way of life. It is not something that you do when others are there; it is what you do when you know that you are alone. Leadership is not something that comes in moments of glory, but in moments of struggle and heartache. The road of leadership is not an easy one to travel, but it is a worthwhile road. You possess the influence to change your world. Are you willing to give what it takes to be a great and noble leader?

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