The Self Aware leader- John Maxwell

the self aware leader
The Self-Aware Leader: Play to Your Strengths, Unleash Your Team

John C Maxwell

HarperCollins Leadership

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In the world today, one could say that the stakes are getting higher. As a result, there is an increasing demand to produce results and to meet the expectations of people equally rising at a commensurate level. What must leaders of this age do to thrive in this climate? They must find their strengths and learn to play by them.

Introduction to The Self Aware Leader

The Self-Aware Leader: Play to your strengths and unleash your team is a short insightful expose on the role self-awareness plays through self-leadership in determining the level of one’s leadership ability and personal effectiveness.

While investigating the lives of great leaders, the author spots and exposes a common adversary; the great challenge of leading oneself. He goes on to label it as a leader’s greatest challenge.

Favorite quotes from The Self-Aware Leader

  • We have met the enemy and he is us.- Walt Kelly’s Pogo.
  • When we are foolish we want to conquer the world. When we are wise we want to conquer self.
  • Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day-to-day to lead himself.- Thomas J. Watson.
  • You can’t lead others until you first mead yourself – Harry S. TRUMAN
  • People do not care how much you know till they know how much you care.
  • Being who you really are is the first step in becoming better than you are.
the self aware leader quote

Key ideas and insights on John Maxwell Self Aware leader

In the self aware leader summary, we discussed three key ideas as follows;

  • The toughest person to lead is you
  • You first
  • It’s not about you

Idea #1: The toughest person to lead is you

It is easier to point out the mistakes of others than to identify ours, let alone admit it. That’s why a handful of average leaders in the world today would rather dump on everybody than admit his or her faults when a project takes a wrong turn.

It would require brutal honesty and humility to recognize and admit one’s weaknesses. Until leaders start seeing themselves realistically, John Maxwell asserts, they’ll fail to recognize their blind spots and correct them.

Humans are wired to remain in their comfort zone. That’s another reason you are the toughest to lead.

The brain is so energy-efficient that it looks for the easiest way to do things that require the least amount of energy. Its responsibility is to ensure your survival and it’s not readily or naturally disposed to take on new challenges. To buttress the point, John C Maxwell quotes one of his mentors, Fred Smith, as follows;

”Something in human nature tempts us to stay where we’re comfortable. We try to find a plateau where we have comfortable stress and adequate finances.”

Idea #2: You first.

It can get overwhelming to know that, as a leader, you have to go first, especially after realizing that you’re the toughest person to lead.

By the meaning of leadership, you have been vested with the responsibility of taking care of others. And when called upon a Chief must be ready to deliver. So as a leader, Maxwell advises, you ought to welcome change and to change quickly as you may not have the luxury of time others enjoy.

Leadership makes every endeavor better or worse. This principle transformed the way the author approached leadership. It meant that followers get better after good leaders do. And wherever you have bad leaders, everyone around them will struggle to succeed. One way to determine one’s leadership abilities is highlighted in the book.

Idea #3: It’s not about you, it is about others.

When we study self-awareness and self-leadership, it is very easy to think selfishly.

However, the book reminds us and prepares us for a time when the focus shifts away from ourselves to the team, and rightfully so.

Why should leaders welcome change and change quickly? To facilitate change for others.

Effective leaders are committed to creating enabling, sustainable environment for team players ready to learn and grow. That’s why a more accurate metric of outstanding leadership performance is the success and general condition of the team.

Yet there are some requirements to be met.

The Self aware leader by John Maxwell review

I must confess.

Other than the fact that this is the first book I ever purchased for non-academic purposes, reading John Maxwell’s Self-Aware Leader felt as though I was taking a stroll through a 900-acre plantation in the arms of a sage while being inundated with age-long wisdom.

The Self-aware leader houses palpable advice distilled by the #1 influential leadership expert with over 45 years worth of experience.

Apart from its simplicity and fluidity, I am most especially fond of the self-reflection exercises at the end of every chapter. They get you started on your ‘change’ plans. They detect those obscure parts of one’s behavior and reveal blindspots that are known to humble even the best of leaders.

These questions also double serve as feedback prompts we can share with friends and trusted colleagues to execute thorough investigations and assessments.

However, The Self Aware leader doesn’t provide enough depth to the subject of self-awareness. A more comprehensive approach featuring a little bit of neuroscience would be appreciated to gain a more holistic view of the subject matter. A deeper read will be required of a reader to see how mental processes like thought patterns and imprints influence cognitive functions we perceive to be strengths.

Nonetheless, it is very functional as it offers short, actionable, easy-to-digest bits of information to just about anybody whose ready to unpack the innate wisdom and run with it.

Who The Self-Aware Leader is for.

John Maxwell’s Self-aware Leader is a good read if you;

  • as a new leader, want to kickstart a leadership career on the front foot.
  • want to build a steady momentous leadership career by avoiding stumbling blocks and pitfalls common to the field.
  • are a seasoned leader who wants to avoid micro-managing people, handle criticism with grace, and give others the credit they deserve.
  • are a seasoned leader looking to pivot and make more impact.
  • have the goal of assessing your level of self-awareness.
  • begin the journey of practicing self-reflection and [[self-management]
  • want to improve your level of personal effectiveness.

FAQs on John Maxwell’s Self-Aware Leader

What is Self-awareness according to John C Maxwell?

The concept of Self-Awareness has received many views from scholars over the years. Some see it as a personality trait others as a cognitive ability.

However, John C Maxwell calls it the ability to see oneself clearly and monitor one’s positive or negative interactions with others. Understanding this perspective would prime you, a reader to leverage the information for effective self-leadership.

Where to find “everything rises and falls on leadership” John Maxwell quote?

“Everything rises and falls on leadership” is a quote by Lee Roberson that motivated and inspired John C Maxwell right from his young adulthood.

In His book, The Self-Aware leader, he referenced this quote when he treated the chapter topic; *Judge your leadership by the success of your team.

Lee’s profound truth, he tells his readers, was fundamental in the formulation of the 21 Irrefutable laws of leadership

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