John C. Maxwell has made a name for himself as an authority on leadership, landing on bestseller lists in both the Christian and general markets. That's quite an accomplishment, and it's one he has legitimately earned. In addition to writing more than two-dozen books, he has established several organizations geared toward training and equipping leaders and has developed numerous ancillary products like tape series, handbooks and manuals, and curriculum materials. In short, he's an expert in his field and one of the best communicators out there.
That said, you should know that Maxwell mines the wealth of information and resources he has amassed and recycles it all to create new books --- which means that one Maxwell book often overlaps into another one, which overlaps into another one, and so on. Longtime readers of Maxwell are well aware of this, having discovered a significant amount of familiar material in the context of information that's genuinely new. He's often criticized for this, but he still manages to sell a whole lot of books, so I suspect it isn't as much of a problem as his critics would like to believe.
In DEVELOPING THE LEADERS AROUND YOU, Maxwell provides both inspirational and practical assistance for leaders who are committed to helping others reach their leadership potential. In trademark Maxwell style, the author gets his point across by making the most of reader-friendly features like assessment tests, charts, cartoons, sports analogies, and mnemonic devices like original acronyms (such as RISE, Rewards Indicating Staff Expectations). He also sprinkles the text with well-chosen quotations --- some profound, some funny, but all of them relevant to the topic at hand.
One of the things I like most about this book is its helpfulness to people outside of the business community. It's especially appropriate for CEOs and other leaders like pastors, but many of the principles and practical tips can be applied to people in all walks of life who supervise (or even parent) others. That's because at the heart of each principle is the priority Maxwell places on building strong relationships and learning to relate to people in a healthy and positive way. Another strength is that it is a stand-alone volume; there's no need to be familiar with any of Maxwell's previous works to benefit from this one.
Here's an example of what you can expect to find, from a chapter on a lifelong commitment to developing potential leaders. In addition to straight text, Maxwell offers a chart defining the distinctions among nurturing, equipping and developing others; three specific questions designed to determine the potential leader's motivation; an example of a practical plan for personal growth; a description of the four steps it takes for someone to adopt a new idea and adapt to new situations; several mnemonic devices, including the IDEA grid (Instruction, Demonstration, Exposure, Accountability); 10 guidelines for positive confrontation; and an analysis of the six levels of leadership growth. Clearly, this is an author who covers all the bases.
Anyone who has read Maxwell or sat through one of his many speaking engagements knows that he has a reputation for excelling in communicating his ideas. (I've actually attended several after-lunch Maxwell sessions, and I did not fall asleep. This is something of a record and high praise indeed.) With DEVELOPING THE LEADERS AROUND YOU, that reputation remains intact. His casual, anecdotal style makes this an enjoyable read --- not bad for a topic that could easily produce the opposite result.
Reviewed by Marcia Ford on November 13, 2011