Maxwell's Magnum Opus

Boiling down a lifetime of leadership lessons.
Leadership Gold: Lessons I've Learned from a Lifetime of Leading
by John C. Maxwell
Thomas Nelson, April 2008
256 pp., $25.99

John C. Maxwell does not fit a typical mold. Who else has spent 25 years as a pastor and now writes bestsellers that crowd the shelves in bookstores' management/leadership sections? He founded Equip "to train a million leaders worldwide" and Injoy to help churches raise major capital funds. According to Maxwell, his lessons come from absorbing and applying leadership principles, including learning from his failures. The pastor/entrepreneur/teacher's latest book, Leadership Gold, is intended to be a culmination of his previous works, communicating his "hardest-won leadership lessons." "I've sifted through a lot of dirt to deliver the gold," he writes.

Maxwell is upfront about his failures. He opens an early chapter titled "The Toughest Person to Lead Is Always Yourself" by recounting the painful memories of four major leadership crises. "I'm sorry to say all of them were my fault," he confesses.

This refreshing vulnerability resurfaces later when he describes a moment when he failed to take action: "People lost jobs, teams were torn apart, dreams went unrealized and, most sadly, some friendships ended." The problem, he writes, was his own tendency to be overly optimistic: "I still do not trust myself in this area. My mental and emotional wiring will always make me want to think the best and overlook the negative."

But it's not Maxwell's way to present a problem without a solution. To temper his optimism, Maxwell has developed four practices, which he lays out in bite-sized chunks.

It's those digestible chunks of hard-earned wisdom, served in a flow of 26 chapters, that make this book accessible to a broad ...

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