Review of John Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You by John Greffet

John Maxwell, the author of “Developing the Leader Within You,” does an outstanding job breaking down leadership. After more than five decades of observing leadership within his family and many year of developing his own leadership potential, John arrived at the conclusion that leadership is influence. He further states that leadership is the ability to raise followers. As the proverb says, “He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk.” Hitler was a leader and so was Jim Jones. Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, and John F. Kennedy were all leaders. While their value systems and management abilities were very different, each had followers. According to John, once you define leadership as the ability to get followers, you work backward from that point of reference to figure out how to lead.

John provides a leadership blueprint consisting of five levels. The levels are:


Level 1: Position/Rights. People follow because they have to. NOTE: Your influence will not extend beyond the lines of your job description. The longer you stay here, the higher the turnover and the lower the morale.


Level 2: Permission/Relationships: People follow because they want to. NOTE: People will follow you beyond your stated authority. This level allows work to be fun. Caution: Staying too long on this level without rising will cause highly motivated people to become restless.


Level 3: Production/Results: People follow because of what you have done for the organization. NOTE: This is where success is sensed by most people. They like you and what you are doing. Problems are fixed with very little effort because of momentum.

Level 4: People Development/Reproduction. People follow because of what you have done for them. NOTE: This is where long range growth occurs. Your commitment to developing leaders will ensure ongoing growth to the organization and to people. Do whatever you can to achieve and stay on this level.


Level 5: Personhood/Respect. People follow because of who you are and what you represent. NOTE: This step is reserved for leaders who have spent years growing people and organizations. Few make it. Those who do are larger than life.

When reading the detailed characteristics that John feels must be exhibited with excellence before advancement to the next level is possible, it is clear that having a true love for people and developing accountability, beginning with oneself, is essential for Developing the Leader Within You.

This book truly contains a blueprint for leadership. There are dozens of quotes I would love to list and points I so want to share but let me share just one morsel that moved me to action. “When you do the things you ought to do when you ought to do them, the day will come when you will do the things you want to do when you want to do them.”