John C. Maxwell is known around the world as an authority on leadership. Maxwell has more than 50 books on the topic. His organization has trained more than two million leaders worldwide. Whether it’s Barack Obama leading his nation, a team captain trying to lead his team to the conference championship or a father trying to lead his family through these difficult economic times, Maxwell says there are three characteristics needed to become a successful leader.
Number one is consensus-building.
Abraham Lincoln was such a phenomenal leader because he understood the importance of consensus building and bringing together the people around him to help make up for his weaknesses. “The fallacy of leadership is thinking that if you can lead in one area you can lead in all areas, and you know all the answers,” Maxwell says. “This is simply not true. The new generation of leaders needs to be consensus buil-ders by walking slowly through the crowd and valuing the opinions of others before making any decision.”
Only secure leaders can accept the fact that they do not know anything. Be careful if you are serving under a leader who claims to know and be right about everything. This is how cult leaders start out. And they lead the simple-minded to their tragic end.
The second trait which is so important is, of course, humility.
“All great leaders are humble,” Maxwell says. “Instead of talking about their own accomplishments, leaders are looking to give the team the credit.”
Beware of leaders who claim to have been responsible for the success of their organizations. These are the same people who have egos so big, they easily fill up a whole auditorium leaving no room for others to contribute, let alone breathe. The egoistic leader who takes all the credit for the organization’s success is the same jerk who refuses to accept responsibility for setbacks or failures, and passes the blame on someone else instead.
The third trait is risk-taking.
Leaders are not afraid to step out and say what needs to be done. One of Maxwell’s favorite leaders is Winston Churchill who stood alone against the Parliament to maintain Nazism’s threat to Europe, when many people considered it a mere nuisance. “Churchill had the courage to go against the grain, against the trend, against the current,” Maxwell says. “He had the courage to do what he felt was right even in the midst of severe opposition.”
Great leaders stand on their conviction. They do not fold in the face of opposition. Meanwhile, jerks shy away when the situation becomes too hot. They disappear in the midst of difficulties and pressures.
Not so, the great leaders. They stand on integrity and righteousness.
Allow me to add just one more essential trait: great leaders serve and do not expect to be served. Their model is Christ, as He gave Himself for us.
It’s not easy to be a great leader, and it’s so tempting to be a jerk. Choose being great anyway, and do the world a favor