Developing the Leader Within You 2.0

Developing the Leader Within You 2.0

by John C. Maxwell


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In this thoroughly revised and updated 25th-anniversary edition of his now-classic work, John C. Maxwell reveals how to develop the vision, value, influence, and motivation required of successful leaders—now in paperback.

Twenty-five years ago, John Maxwell published the book that forever transformed how we think about leadership. Developing the Leader Within You revolutionized the way leaders are made and in the process sold more than one million copies. Now John Maxwell returns to his classic text to include the leadership insights and practices he’s learned in the decades since the book first appeared. Thoroughly revised and with two completely new chapters, this new edition updates the foundational principles for transformative leadership that Maxwell has used as a leader for more than 40 years. No matter what arena you are called to?family, church, business, nonprofit?the principles Maxwell shares will positively impact your own life and the lives of those around you. New readers as well as longtime fans of Maxwell and the original book won’t want to miss out on this one.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718074081
Publisher: HarperCollins Leadership
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 17,254
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

John C. Maxwell is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than thirty million books in fifty languages. He has been identified as the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association and the most influential leadership expert in the world by Business Insider and Inc. magazines. He is the founder of the John Maxwell Company, the John Maxwell Team, EQUIP, and the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation, organizations that have trained millions of leaders from every country of the world. The recipient of the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary Leadership Network, Dr. Maxwell speaks each year to Fortune 500 companies, presidents of nations, and many of the world’s top business leaders. He can be followed at For more information about him, visit

Read an Excerpt



Everyone talks about it; few understand it. Most people desire to cultivate a high capacity for it; few actually do. I can put my hands on more than fifty definitions and descriptions of it from my personal files. If you google it, you'll get more than 760 million results for it. What am I talking about? Leadership.

When I wrote the first edition of this book in 1992, people who wanted to succeed in businesses and other organizations focused their attention on management. Every year another management fad seemed to be in fashion. But few people paid any attention to leadership. It wasn't on most people's radar.

I have earned three degrees: a bachelor's, a master's, and a doctorate. Yet I had not taken a single course in leadership during my studies before the 1993 publication of Developing the Leader Within You. Why? Because none of the universities I attended offered a single course on the subject.

Today, however, leadership is a buzzword. And schools and universities have embraced it. If you wanted to, you could earn an advanced degree in the subject at more than a hundred accredited universities. All three of the universities I attended now offer courses in leadership.

Why has leadership become so important? Because people are recognizing that becoming a better leader changes lives. Everything rises and falls on leadership. The world becomes a better place when people become better leaders. Developing yourself to become the leader you have the potential to be will change everything for you. It will add to your effectiveness, subtract from your weaknesses, divide your workload, and multiply your impact.


More and more people recognize the value of good leadership, yet not very many work to become better leaders. Why is that? Despite the widespread prevalence of leadership books and classes, many people think leadership isn't for them. Maybe it's because they make one of these assumptions:

I'm Not a "Born Leader," so I Can't Lead

Leaders are not born. Well, okay, they're born. I've never met an unborn leader. (And I wouldn't want to.) What I really mean is that your ability to lead is not set at birth. While it's true that some people are born with more natural gifts that will help them lead at a higher level, everyone has the potential to become a leader. And leadership can be developed and improved by anyone willing to put in the effort.

A Title and Seniority Will Automatically Make Me a Leader

I believe this kind of thinking was more common in my generation and that of my parents, but it can still be seen today. People think they need to be appointed to a positon of leadership, when the reality is that becoming a good leader requires desire and some basic tools. You can have a title and seniority and be incapable of leading. And you can have no title or seniority and be a good leader.

Work Experience Will Automatically Make Me a Leader

Leadership is like maturity. It doesn't automatically come with age. Sometimes age comes alone. Tenure does not create leadership ability. In fact, it's more likely to engender entitlement than leadership ability.

I'm Waiting Until I Get a Position to Start Developing as a Leader

This last assumption has been the most frustrating to me as a teacher of leadership. When I first started hosting leadership conferences, people would say, "If I ever become a leader" — meaning if they were ever appointed to a leadership position — "then maybe I'll come to one of your seminars." What's the problem? As legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, "When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare." If you start learning about leadership now, not only will you increase your opportunities, but you'll also make the most of them when they arrive.


The bottom line is that if you've never done anything to develop yourself as a leader, you can start today. And if you have already begun your leadership journey, you can become a better leader than you already are by intentionally developing the leader within you.

What will that take? That's the subject of this book. These ten chapters contain what I consider to be the ten essentials for developing yourself as a leader. I've also created free bonus materials that you can access at Included is an assessment that will help you gauge your current leadership ability. I encourage you to take it before reading any further.

Let's start with the most important concept of the ten: influence. After more than five decades of observing leaders around the world and many years of developing my own leadership potential, I have come to this conclusion: Leadership is influence. That's it — nothing more, nothing less. That's why my favorite leadership proverb is "He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only taking a walk." For you to be a leader, someone has to be following you. I love what James C. Georges, founder and chairman of the PAR Group, said in an interview I read years ago: "What is leadership? Remove for a moment the moral issues behind it, and there is only one definition: Leadership is the ability to obtain followers."

Anyone — for good or ill — who gets others to follow is a leader. That means Hitler was a leader. (Did you know that Time named Hitler their Man of the Year in 1938 because he had greater influence on the world than anyone else?) Osama bin Laden was a leader. Jesus of Nazareth was a leader.

So was Joan of Arc. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy were leaders. While the value systems, abilities, and goals of all these people were vastly different, each of them attracted followers. They all had influence.

Influence is the beginning of true leadership. If you mistakenly define leadership as the ability to achieve a position instead of the ability to attract followers, then you will go after position, rank, or title to try to become a leader. But this type of thinking results in two common problems. First, what do you do if you attain the status of a leadership position but experience the frustration of having no one follow you? Second, what if you never achieve the "proper" title? Will you keep waiting to try to make a positive impact on the world?

My goal with this book is to help you understand how influence works, and use it as the starting point for learning how to lead more effectively. Each chapter is designed to help you acquire skills and abilities that further develop you as a leader. With the addition of each skill set, you will become a better leader.


Before we get into the particulars of how influence with others works and how to develop it, let's nail down a few important insights about influence:

1. Everyone Influences Someone

My friend Tim Elmore, the founder of Growing Leaders, once told me that sociologists estimate that even the most introverted individual will influence ten thousand other people during his or her lifetime. Isn't that amazing? Every day you influence others. And you are influenced by others. That means no one is excluded from being both a leader and a follower.

In any given situation with any group of people, the dynamic of influence is always in play. Let me illustrate. Let's say a child is getting ready for school. During that process, his mother is usually the dominant influence. She may choose what he will eat and what he will wear. When he arrives at school, he may become the influencer in his group of friends. When class begins, his teacher becomes the dominant influencer. After school, when the boy goes out and plays, the neighborhood bully may have the most influence. And at dinnertime, Mom or Dad has the most influence at the table as they eat.

If you are observant, you can discover the prominent leader of any group. Titles and positions don't matter. Just watch the people as they gather. As they work to resolve an issue or make a decision, whose opinion seems most valuable? Who is the person others watch the most when the issue is being discussed? Who is the one with whom people quickly agree? Whom do others defer to and follow? Answers to these questions point you to who the real leader is in a particular group.

You have influence in this world, but realizing your potential as a leader is your responsibility. If you put effort into developing yourself as a leader, you have the potential to influence more people and to do so in more significant ways.

2. We Don't Always Know Who or How Much We Influence

One of the most effective ways to understand the power of influence is to think about the times you have been touched in your life by a person or an event. Significant events leave marks on all our lives and memories. For example, ask people born before 1930 what they were doing on December 7, 1941, when they heard that Pearl Harbor was bombed, and they will describe in detail their feelings and surroundings when they heard the terrible news. Ask someone born before 1955 to describe what he or she was doing on November 22, 1963, when the news that John F. Kennedy had been shot was broadcast. Again, you will hear no loss for words. Each generation remembers events that mark them: the day the space shuttle Challenger blew up. The tragedy of 9/11. The list goes on. What major event stands out to you? How is that event continuing to influence your thinking and actions?

Now think about the people who influenced you in a powerful way, or the little things that meant a lot to you. I can point to the influence of a camp I attended as a youth and how it helped determine my career choice. My seventh-grade teacher, Glen Leatherwood, began to stir a sense of calling in my life that I continue to live out today in my seventies. When my mother bought bubble lights for our family Christmas tree, there was no way for her to know that they would evoke the feeling of Christmas in me every year. The affirming note I received from a professor in college kept me going at a time when I was doubting myself. My list is endless. So is yours.

We are influenced every day by so many people. Sometimes small things make big impressions. We have been molded into the people we are by those influences. And we mold others, often when we least expect it. Author and educator J. R. Miller said it well: "There have been meetings of only a moment which have left impressions for life, for eternity. No one of us can understand that mysterious thing we call influence ... yet out of every one of us continually virtue goes, either to heal, to bless, to leave marks of beauty; or to wound, to hurt, to poison, to stain other lives."

3. The Best Investment in Tomorrow Is to Develop Your Influence Today

What's your greatest investment possibility for the future? The stock market? Real estate holdings? More education? All of these things have value. But I would argue that one of the best investments you can make in yourself is to develop your influence. Why? Because if you have the desire to accomplish something, you will be in a better place to do it if others are willing to help.

In the book Leaders, Warren G. Bennis and Burt Nanus say, "The truth is that leadership opportunities are plentiful and within reach of most people." That's true in businesses, volunteer organizations, and social groups. If you're an entrepreneur, those opportunities are multiplied exponentially. The question is, will you be ready for them when they come? To make the most of them, you must prepare for leadership today and learn how to cultivate influence and use it positively to make a difference.

Robert Dilenschneider, founder and principal of the Dilenschneider Group and former CEO of the PR firm Hill and Knowlton Strategies, has been one of the nation's major influence brokers for many years. In his book Power and Influence, he shares the idea of the "power triangle" to help leaders become more effective. The three components of this triangle are communication, recognition, and influence. Dilenschneider says, "If you are communicating effectively, you will get positive recognition for your communication from the audiences you are trying to influence, which means people will think what you are doing is right and that you are doing it in the right way. When you get positive recognition, your influence grows. You are perceived as competent, effective, worthy of respect — powerful. Power comes from remembering and using the linkage of communication, recognition, and influence."

As a young leader, I followed that pathway to better leadership because communication is one of my gifts. As I became a better communicator, I did receive recognition. Soon I was being asked to teach on the subject of leadership. But I also sensed that leadership was more complex than just communication, recognition, and influence. I began thinking about how I could develop a model that would help others understand how influence works, and more importantly, how to develop influence in their own lives. I knew that if the people I helped invested in their influence, they would be able to make a positive impact in their world, wherever that happened to be.


I began studying influence more carefully, and I also drew upon my own leadership experience and what I observed in leaders I respected and admired. What I discovered is that influence can be developed in five stages. I turned those stages into a tool that I call the 5 Levels of Leadership. It provides a model of influence that can help you better understand the dynamics of leadership, and it also creates a road map you can follow to develop influence with others. I've been teaching this model of leadership for more than thirty years, and I can't count the number of people it's helped. I hope it helps you in the same way it has others.

Let's examine each of the levels. You'll quickly get a handle on how they work.

Level 1: Position

The most basic entry level of leadership is the Position level. Why is this the lowest level? Because Position represents leadership before a leader has developed any real influence with the people being led. In generations past, people would follow leaders simply because they possessed a title or position of authority. But that is not very common today in American culture. People will follow a positional leader only as far as they have to.

When I took my first job as a leader in 1969, people were respectful of me. They were kind. But I had no real influence. I was twenty-two. They could see how little I knew, even if I couldn't. I found out how little influence I had when I led my first board meeting. I started the meeting with my agenda in hand. But then Claude started to talk. He was just an old farmer, but everyone in the room looked to him for leadership. Whatever he said held the most weight. Claude wasn't pushy or disrespectful. He didn't do a power play. He didn't have to. He already had all the power. He just wanted to get things done.

It's very clear to me now that in that first job, I was a leader living on Level 1. All I had going for me at first was my position — along with a good work ethic and a desire to make a difference. I learned more on Level 1 than at any other time in my early years of leading. I figured out pretty quickly that a title and position won't get a person very far in leadership.

People who have been appointed to a position may have authority, but that authority doesn't exceed their job description. Positional leaders have certain rights. They have the right to enforce the rules. They have the right to tell people to do their jobs. They have the right to use whatever power they have been granted.

But real leadership is more than having granted authority. Real leadership is being a person others will gladly and confidently follow. Real leaders know the difference between position and influence.

It's the difference between being a boss and being a leader:

Bosses drive workers; leaders coach them.

Bosses depend on authority; leaders depend on goodwill.

Bosses inspire fear; leaders inspire enthusiasm.

Bosses say, "I"; leaders say, "We."

Bosses fix the blame for any breakdown; leaders fix the breakdown.

Bosses know how it is done; leaders show how.

Bosses say, "Go"; leaders say, "Let's go!"

Position is a good place to start in leadership, but it's a terrible place to stay. Anyone who never leads beyond Position depends on territorial rights, protocol, tradition, and organizational charts. These things are not inherently negative — unless they become the basis for authority. They are poor substitutes for leadership skills.


Excerpted from "Developing the Leader Within You 2.0"
by .
Copyright © 2018 John C. Maxwell.
Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface to the 2.0 Edition ix

Acknowledgments xi

1 The Definition of Leadership: Influence 1

2 The Key to Leadership: Priorities 25

3 The Foundation of Leadership: Character 49

4 The Ultimate Test of Leadership: Creating Positive Change 71

5 The Quickest Way to Gain Leadership: Problem Solving 95

6 The Extra Plus in Leadership: Attitude 119

7 The Heart of Leadership: Serving People 145

8 The Indispensable Quality of Leadership: Vision 165

9 The Price Tag of Leadership: Self-Discipline 185

10 The Expansion of Leadership: Personal Growth 205

What's Next? 225

About the Author 227

Notes 229

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Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
gbautista72 11 months ago
Enjoyed this leadership book. I've read many leadership and business books. This one is very good. Maxwell gives you easy bite size lessons for growing into a good leader. It's an uphill journey and if you follow these lessons then you will succeed! He challenges you to get out of your comfort zone, spread your wings, don't be afraid of failure because that's where you learn and grow. Also remember humility. You don't know it all. You don't have all the answers. As a growing leader these are things that come to light and help you be better.
Kozlof More than 1 year ago
John Maxwell has long been an author I turn to in the realm of leadership lessons.  'Developing the leader within you 2.0' is a book I will keep on my shelf and revisit as the years come and go. As can be expected the entire reason for the release of this book is to help all leaders grow in their call to lead.  The basic and profound lessons found within will develop new capacity within you, and deepen your understanding of the position of leader. This is an updated version of the book John Maxwell released early in his career as an author.  I do not have the original to compare the update too, but I can spot obvious material that is current and would not have been in the original print.   If you are looking for something that is firmly rooted in faith based leadership with many biblical references which highlights the leadership style of Jesus, this is not the book to turn to.  Though Maxwell reveals his faith and talks about being a pastor as well as a business leader, there are no overt moments of faith based leadership teaching.  This book is strictly geared to developing the leadership profile of the individual.  There is no fault in this as there are shelves full of biblical leadership tools and material for this purpose, Maxwell has the specific call to grow all leaders. This said, if you are a church leader, there are some incredible truths in this book and I recommend you study it along with a book based on Jesus leadership style.  You will find striking similarities and will be driven to grow in your place as well.  I greatly enjoyed reading this book and as noted earlier, will revisit from time to time to refresh and continue to grow. **I received this book free from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.  These are my personal thoughts.
Coach_Joel More than 1 year ago
Like most prolific business authors, John C. Maxwell finds new ways to slice some core principles. In Maxwell's case, most of his books are deeper dives into the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership -- his seminal work. Having said, that, however, it would be a mistake to write this updated edition as a mere rehash of what Maxwell has said before. In the author's own estimation, he has modified about 80-90% of the content from the original edition, adding new principles, adapting more recent stories, and including new insights. Maxwell's books, including this one, are deceptively easy to read. His ability to distill deep wells into memorable pithy sayings that look great on memes and motivational posters makes it possible to read through the book quickly. However, the best strategy for reading this book is to pause often and refllect: * How well do I do this? When was the last time I exhibited this behavior? * What keeps me from moving forward in this? * Who do I see in my life that does this well? How well do I model what they do? * What steps can I take to incorporate (or eliminate) this in my life? * Who can I encourage to grow in this? Without reflection, you're wasting your time reading the book. As Maxwell himself says, we tend to overestimate the power of an event, and understimate the power of a process. Reading this book is an event -- and a good one. Reflecting on, digesting and applying this book is an invaulable process, worth the investment of time and money.
Marsha_Randolph More than 1 year ago
If you have never read a John C Maxwell book and you are interested in having your own business and / or improving upon your leadership skills then I recommend you read DEVELOPING THE LEADER WITHIN YOU 2.0. If you own more than 2 John C Maxwell books I would suggest you skip this book. Though may be a few “nuggets” found within the pages of this book however as a fan of John C. Maxwell it grieves me to say DEVELOPING THE LEADER WITHIN YOU 2.O is more of the same. It seems that Mr. Maxwell is re-releasing his books with a slite twist and it is now to redundant for me to give him a pass. Perhaps he has said all that he has to say. In the not so fine print on the cover it reads: “Over 2 Million Copies Sold (Original Edition)”. If you have never read a Maxwell good then grab a copy. There are great tips on leadership including developing an understanding when the problem is not the other person but you- see chapter 5: Problem Solving. If you are determined to read this book even though you have read the others you will find some diffences and two chapters that have been omitted. Book stores require I indicate how I like this book by assigning between 1 to 5 stars. On average I have given 5 stars to a John C Maxwell book. I cannot do it this time because if I had not received a complimentary copy I would not have purchased this book. - - - written by Marsha L F Randolph