What do you get when you cross a pastor, a leadership expert who regularly converses with the most powerful CEOs and presidents in the world, and an author who has written over 70 books? Although this may sound like a fictional leadership superhero, we had the pleasure to be introduced to the real, human version of the caricature this morning at the start of the second day of World Leadership Forum Mexico: John C. Maxwell.
Maxwell explained with authenticity why he is so interested and passionate about leadership: he realized in 1976 that everything rises and falls thanks to leadership (businesses, governments, education, and religion). “I’ve spent my life teaching leadership, writing about leadership, spending time with the greatest leaders in the world, asking leadership questions. My whole life has been dedicated to leadership,” he confirmed.
One major lesson he has learn along the way is that it isn’t about telling but about asking the right questions. In the following discover three of the essential questions to ask in order be a great leader.
“We think of leadership as telling, but great leaders become great by what they ask, not what they say. It is the questions that will make you a good leader.” Maxwell challenged the audience to take stock of how they are doing as leaders and insisted that they ask themselves the following three questions:
Question 1: Am I investing in myself as a leader?
Although Maxwell pointed out that asking this question may sound a little selfish, a little strange for leaders, people who should always be focusing their efforts on others, he assures that it is the most essential question to ask. Why? “You can’t give what you don’t have. All great leaders are continually learning. If you have stopped learning you should stop leading.”
Maxwell explained that a common organizational issue comes from when the leader becomes a lid: he or she stops growing and as a result the organization and the people also come to a halt. Therefore, it is essential for leaders to have a personal growth plan. “Growth is not automatic, you have to grow intentionally,” Maxwell confirmed.
So what can you do to help yourself and those around you grow? Create the right environment, Maxwell suggested, one where you aren’t the smartest person in the room and are constantly challenged. It is a good thing if you spend the majority of your time outside your comfort zone.
Question #2: Am I genuinely interested in other people?
It is far too common for leaders to love leading people but not the people they lead. Maxwell warned that in the world today there are many people in leadership positions who love power and giving orders rather than truly being interested and caring for people. He suggested that in every leader, in any part of the world, there are two things that hold true and are a part of a leader’s DNA:
1) They see more than others see, they have a big picture view of what is going on. This isn’t about intelligence, it is about comprehension.
2) They see more and they see before. Maxwell suggested that true leaders have an advantage over others: they have a head start and have the ability to get on the journey before the normal person.
So what does this have to do with caring about people? Although a leader may have the advantage of knowing more and before (meaning they can win every time), true leaders choose to slow down and take people with them. “Leaders don’t win races!” They get off the top, find their followers, and walk slowly through the crowd.
Question #3: Am I doing what I love and am I loving what I do?
Don’t lead for the perks, for the financial reward. Maxwell assured the crowd that money is overrated and has only two functions: to give you possibilities (to travel, to live well) and to do good things with it.
“If you don’t love what you do you won’t have the passion, and without passion you don’t have the energy to continually enjoy your people and your work.”
Maxwell closed with the following thought, one that every leader must truly consider:
“I want to make a difference with people who want to make a difference at a time when it makes a difference.”
What about you?