The Leader’s Greatest (Part 1)

How would it help your leadership if someone were to share with you the greatest benefits and dangers a leader faces? If you’re thinking it would make a significant difference to you, then you’re in luck.

This week on the podcast, John brings us the first five of the greatest things that can happen to a leader: the leader’s greatest victory, the leader’s greatest asset, the leader’s greatest weight, the leader’s greatest discipline, and the leader’s greatest handicap.

After John’s teaching, Mark Cole and Jason Brooks spend time going deep on two of John’s points—it’s a session of application that’s unlike anything you’ve heard from them before.

This episode is the first of three on this topic, so you’ll definitely want to keep track of what’s being taught. Fortunately, our BONUS resource for this series is the Leader’s Greatest Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome back to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. We are committed to your growth, and we're committed to your growth influencing others. My name is Mark Cole, and I will be joined by John Maxwell in this podcast. Then I will be joined by Jason Brooks as we dissect and apply what John shares today.

Now, over the next three weeks, we're going to be sharing a unique and insightful lesson from John called The Leader's Greatest. I've got to be honest with you. On the front part of three parts of lessons from John's topic here that we could spend 10 weeks on this series. It is an incredible, incredible amount of content and challenge you're going to get from the next three weeks of this podcast.

In fact, we believe that John's outline will show you what he believes is the greatest aspect in specific areas of a leader's life. For instance, today in part one, John's teaching will be talking about a leader's greatest victory, a leader's greatest asset, greatest weight, greatest discipline, and a leader's greatest handicap.

Each of these lessons will be packed with full, thought-provoking insight that will help you on your leadership journey. So be sure to download the Bonus Resource for this series That's leadersgreatest, no apostrophe. You'll be able to download the Resource there and learn with us.

Now here is John C Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  I would like to talk about, in the context of leadership, some of the greatest things, I think, that can happen to a leader. So let's get rolling, because we've got a lot of stuff to cover.

Number one, let's go. The leader's greatest victory, I think, is victory over self. What I'm giving you is very subjective. This is just my list. Do you follow me? So you may look at yourself and later on go through the list and do yours, and say, "Boy, John could have done a better job if he'd had my answers," because there's not a right or wrong answer.

So what I'm giving is kind of my own, subjective, personal thinking. But I think for me the greatest victory that I have, and I don't want to put that in past tense. I don't want to say the greatest victory I've had is victory over self, because I have to fight this every day. Do you follow me?

It would almost come to conclusion if I said, "the greatest victory I've ever had is victory over self, that I don't have to work on myself, or I don't have to battle myself, or I don't have to fight the temptations of self," which is totally untrue. But my greatest victory every day is victory over self.

Let me kind of contextualize that. Go to your notes. Because I think when people think of leadership the common thought is that a leader's greatest victory is with others. And I think that is a normal, natural thought because you think what do leaders do? Leaders lead. Leaders include others. Leaders have followers. Leaders are taking people someplace.

So you would think that a leader's greatest victory would be leading people, taking people to new heights. I don't think so. For me, the greatest victory I have is a victory over self, because I have found that most of my problems in leadership are [inaudible 00:03:38]. It's like the guy who one time said, "If I could kick the person most responsible for my troubles, I wouldn't be able to sit down for a week," because I'd be kicking myself.

Almost every lesson I've learned as a leader, I learned it because I did it wrong. In other words, the lesson was learned not because I was smart, or because I did it right, or because I was brilliant. I messed up. I had to put everything in park, and put it in reverse, and back up, and say, "Okay. I did that wrong, and why did I do that wrong, and how could I have done that right?"

What I'm saying to you is that most of the problems I have are my problems. When I work with leaders, many of the problems that leaders have with people are their own problem. It reminds me of when I was at a conference on time. A college student raised his hand and said, "John, I love all this leadership stuff you're giving, but I don't have a team yet. I'm not leading anything. So who should I start leading?"

My answer to him was, "Start with yourself. because if you wouldn't follow yourself, why should anyone else follow you?" Plato said it much better than I could ever say it. What did he say? "The first and best victory is to conquer self."

Ralph Stayer, president of Johnsonville Foods, wrote, this is the insight, "I realized early and return to often that in most situations I am the problem. My mentalities, my pictures, my expectations formed the biggest obstacle to my success."

So in my book Winning With People, let me just give you whole bunch of principles, people principles, that talk about self and victory over self. The lens principle, who we are determines how we see others. Well, that itself tells you very quickly that once we get our own act together we're going to be able to help other people get their own act together. But it's impossible, if I'm unhealthy, to have healthy people. It's impossible for an unhealthy leader to have healthy follows. So I have to fix myself. That's what the lens principle is all about, because who we are determines how we see others.

Here's the statement: We don't see others as they are. We see others as we are. For example, if I'm a non-trusting person, in other words, I have a problem trusting people. Then when I look at you, guess how I will see you? As untrustworthy. I'll look at you and say, "Now I wonder what they meant by that? I'm not sure I trust them." I'm going to view you not as you are. I'm going to view you as I am. I'm going to look at you through the lens of John Maxwell. So anything that's unhealthy about me is going to spill onto you. That's what leaders have to understand. It's spills over. That's why insecure leaders, what do they do? They have a bunch of paranoid, dysfunctional, insecure people underneath them because it spills over.

So if as a leader I can get victory over myself, if I can fix John Maxwell, there's high odds I'm going to fix everybody else. If I can't fix me, there are high odds that I'll never be able to add value and help you.

The mirror principle. That's another one in my relationship with Winning with People that is, again, about victory over self. The first person we must examine is ourself. And what is the leadership tendency? My leadership tendency is to examine someone else. "What's wrong with them? Why aren't they doing this? Why haven't they come to work on time? Why aren't they following through?" I mean, it's just who we are. Okay? That's why the victory over self, I think, is so important to leader. Go back to your notes. It's easy to teach leadership. It is difficult to model leadership.

Boy, isn't that true? Isn't it easy as a parent to tell your kids what they ought to do? What was it? One parent was complaining to another parent, said, "Why is it no matter how much we tell our kids, they insist on acting like us? Kind of disgusting isn't it?" Well, as a leader, why is it that as much as I tell the people that I'm leading to do this, they keep basically coming around and acting like I am? That's why victory over self, I think, is so essential for the leader.

Let me wrap this up. A key different between followers and leaders is very simple. Followers think of themselves first, and leaders think of others first. That's just the way it is.'

Okay. Let's go to number two. The leader's greatest asset. Confidence. I think the greatest asset a leader possesses is confidence. Here's the paragraph: Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone. It is difficult for those who do not believe in themselves to have much faith in anyone else. Self-confidence bring confidence in others.

Like I've often said, a person who says, "I don't think I can," is basically saying to themselves and thinking, "I don't think I am." Because I am not, I probably cannot.

I love leadership but I love history. One of my favorite people to read after was Harry Truman, who the longer he's dead the more people think he was a great president. It's just kind of a wonderful thing. He's never going to appreciate it, but when he's dead 50 more years, he just keeps rising. And I guess it could be worse. The longer you're dead, the more people think you're bad. So I mean it could go either way.

But Harry Truman, he's just getting better all the time. He's up there in that top six or seven presidents ever. You talk about confidence. I was reading this jus the other day, and I'm just going to read it to you. It's not in your notes.

During his long-shot bid for the presidency in 1948, nobody gave him a chance. If you'll remember, if you love history and leadership, Thomas Dewey was running against him. And Dewey was favored. Everybody thought he was going to win. Okay? So Harry Truman is running in '48, the long shot.

Harry Truman asked a man in the crowd how he intended to vote. "Mr. Truman," said the man, "I wouldn't vote for you if yours was the only name on the ballot." Turning to an aide, Truman said, "Put him down as doubtful." I just love that.

Here's what I know about leaders. The good leaders, they're confident. I had the privilege of going to Russia when it was the Soviet Union right before all the change occurred. If you remember, you that are old enough, Boris Yeltsin meeting the tanks as they came upon him. What's really not known about that story is the commander of the tanks was undecided. He was under order by the government to go get Yeltsin. And he was very undecided because all the change that was happening in the Soviet Union. Very undecided what to do.

If you'll remember, Yeltsin came out, went straight to the commanding tank, walked on the tank, opened the hatch, shook the man's hand, the commander's hand. He said, "I want to thank you for joining our side." True story. And it was at that moment the commander decided to join his side.

It's a classic, classic example of the greatest asset a leader has is confidence. I'm going to tell you why. Confidence, you cannot pass on what you do not have. And when you fail to have confidence in yourself, you fail to convey and pass on confidence to others. There's a security that people have in following a confident leader.

Confidence is a huge asset, and I'm going to tell you why. Because a lot of times in leadership you are not certain. You don't know what's around the bend of the road. You don't have all the answers. Leaders aren't smarter than everybody else, and they have all the answers. Everybody else is dumb, and they don't have any of the answers. So they're waiting for somebody to fill in the blank.

That's not the way it works. A lot of times as a leader, you don't know. Lots of times, you are uncertain. A lot of times, you are uncomfortable. But knowing who you are, and understanding your values and your principles, and being true to them, and being confident in the fact that you're doing your best for your people. It doesn't mean you don't make mistakes. It doesn't mean that you make all good decisions.

That confidence becomes a huge asset, and I have found... My dad told me one time. He said, "John, 85% of the people in the world are very insecure, and if you're confident, most of them will follow you just because you're confident." I believe that to be true. I think it's the leader's finest asset.

Number three. The leader's greatest weight. Let's go back to some issues here. I think the leader's greatest weight is responsibility. At least I know for me, and again this is all subjective. It's all personal. For me, without any question, somebody says, "What's the greatest weight you carry?" "Responsibility."

And here's why. Stay in your notes now. A leader can give up everything but final responsibility. I can tell you right now when it's all said and done, there's only one person responsible for everything that happens. That's the person that's a leader.

One of the greatest illustrations of this weight, I think, that leaders feel is Dwight Eisenhower. During World War II, General Dwight David Eisenhower was responsible for the planning of the D-Day invasion of France that took place on June 6, 1944.

Eisenhower knew that thousands of young soldiers would most likely be killed in the assault. He also knew that the invasion would be a pivotal point in the war against Nazi Germany. Success would be a tremendous boost to the Allied cause, but failure would be a crushing blow.

In the hours prior to the attack as rain splattered on the windows outside, Eisenhower sat down at a small table and wrote out by hand a press release to be used if the attack should be repelled. He wrote, "Our landing has failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to this attempt it is mine alone."

Wow. Eisenhower had made up in his mind in advance that he was going to bear full responsibility for whatever happened. He wasn't going to put the blame on his advisors, bad weather, superior Nazi strength, or any other contributing factor. It was his responsibility and his alone.

If that doesn't sum up the leader's weight right there, and what a magnificent job he did in carrying that weight. I think that's the greatest weight, responsibility, in a leader's life.

The greatest discipline in a leader's life. Taking time to think. I think that's the greatest discipline. I think leader's fight that discipline more than any other. Let me explain to you why.

Leaders, our whole DNA as leaders, is that we are action oriented. I mean, leaders love action. I mean, give me action. Give me something to go do. Let me charge that hill. That's the whole leader's mindset. If it involves action, a leader migrates to it.

Thinking divorces itself from action. It's almost an antithesis of the DNA that a leader has. But I would contend to you that it's the most important thing that a leader does. William Arthur Ward said, "Nothing limits achievement like small thinking. Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking."

I can think of nothing worse than a company that has a leader that doesn't think. You talk about being a Mr. Magoo organization. I mean, you get the picture. Three steps and, bam, what did I hit? Oh, turn around. Okay. You just show me an organization that's followed by a non-thinker and I'm going to show you an organization that's getting out of the ditch every day. I mean, every day you know what your job is? Get out of the ditch. See if you can find the road. Got the road, okay. Oh, back in the ditch again.

Why? Because leaders have to constantly be thinking about tomorrow. The very fact that you're a follower basically says you think about today. Pretty much if you can just handle today you're happy. Leaders have to think week-out, month-out, year-out, years-out. They have to constantly mentally be ahead of the people.

In fact, if you don't mentally stay ahead of the people, you're no longer going to be the leader. Somebody is going to think better, faster, quicker, and bigger than you. When you go into a room, what characterizes a leader? A leader, I mean, they get it. I don't mean this unkind. They're not smarter than the rest of the people in the room. They just get it quicker than everybody else in the room, and they've got it. Okay?

Well, what I have found is many leaders will substitute action which brings them great pleasure in place of thinking. The good news is they were in middle of action. The bad news is they can't keep the company out of the ditch because they don't plan and think enough.

In my book Thinking for a Change, I love the chapter that talks about these five things that are in your notes. Find a place to think your thoughts. You've heard me teach it, so I don't to teach it again. If you have a place to think your thoughts, you'll think thoughts. But if you don't have a place, if you don't have a designated place, for me it's a chair, my thinking chair. That's where I'm going to sit. That's where I'm going to think.

If you have a place to think your thoughts, you'll go to it. If you don't have a place to think your thoughts... It brings a discipline to thinking if you have a thinking place. Find a way to shape your thoughts. Every day I spend time shaping my thoughts. I do it by putting it on paper. I do it by writing. Just getting my legal pad and writing things down. "That doesn't work. This will be better." But you've got to have a way to shape your thoughts.

The reason I have to have a way to shape my thoughts is I have never had an initial thought that was worth a lot. I really haven't. I haven't had an initial thought that, "Oh, that was brilliant." No. Most of my thoughts have to be worked on, and created, and reconstructed, and developed. Do you follow me? My first thought is usually in that line of thinking my worst thought.

Okay? Let's fill in the blanks. Find a way to stretch your thoughts. The greatest way to stretch your thoughts is get other thinkers around you, and get their input. In fact, the most humbling thing about thinking is once I think I have a good thought, and then I put it around other good thinkers, very quickly I realize how good it isn't. They'll start putting their input in. I'll say, "Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Why didn't I think of that?"

Well, because thinking demands different perspectives of which I don't have all those perspectives, because I'm just one person. It goes back to Kim Blanchard's statement, "None of us is as smart as all of us." So you stretch you thought with putting it out with other people.

Find a time to fly your thought. After you've stretched your thought, shaped your thought, okay, now launch it. Fly it. And remember this. The better the thought, the longer the runway. The bigger the thought. If you've got a big thought, it takes long runway to launch that sucker. Just like on an airport. You've got a big plane, boy, you just don't want to go at a county international with a 747. Okay? Follow me?

If you've got a small plane, shoot, you don't need a long runway. You've got a small thought, you don't need a lot of time. You don't need a lot of effort. Most people are helicopter thinkers. They just need a pad. Do you know what I'm saying?

And then find a place to land your thought. Find a place to land it. Wow. Speaking of thinking, a book that effected me greatly as a teenager was a book by David Schwartz, The Magic Power of Thinking Big. Boy, I read that book probably half a dozen times. One of the quotes in this book that I loved is this one. "Where success is concerned people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background. They are measured by the size of their thinking." Right on, David. Right on.

The leader's greatest handicap. Pride. The greatest hindrance that a leader has, I think, is pride. In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I teach about the law of connection. Leaders touch a heart before they ask for hand.

Can I tell you something? Pride will always break the law of connection. In a relationship, pride will always stop someone who is connecting. Because what happens is pride causes you to forgo common sense. It does every time.

Pride distorts the picture until you lose common sense, which causes you to lose common ground with people. Then there's no connecting. It's the leader's greatest handicap.

The Duke of Wellington once haughtily drew himself up to his full height and thundered out to one of his staff officers, "God knows I have many faults, but being wrong is not one of them." That's it. Go get them, baby. Or the mother whale once warned her son, "Remember it's when you go to the top and start blowing that you get harpooned."

Mark Cole:       What a great quote. "When you go the top and start blowing, that's when you're going to get harpooned." I think, Jason, that is an incredible way for us to just pause John, because by the way this is part one. You're going to want to be back next week to John's lesson on the Leader's Greatest.

Jason, I cracked up on that last quote. Good to have you in the studio with me today.

Jason Brooks:   Man, I'm glad to be back with you. That quote was funny. Maybe a little discouraging out of context. You really had to hear the lesson to understand what John was saying there. But, man, what a great beginning to a podcast series. There's so much that John touched on.

But I'd really like to, if you don't mind Mark, I'd like to start in a place. It was John's third point. It's kind of in the middle of the lesson, but I think we agree that it was really one of the biggest points, one of the greatest topics out of this particular lesson.

We'd like to spend a little time camping out here. So I'll just begin with you. What were your thoughts as you heard John teaching about responsibility? You're a CEO. You've been leading companies. When you hear John talk about the leader's greatest weight, greatest I don't want to say burden, but the thing that you carry that has the most impact that might bend your posture a little bit. Why is it responsibility and how have you learned that responsibility is such a big deal for a leader?

Mark Cole:       Well, it goes back to so many things, Jason, that you and the podcast listeners have heard me share over and over again about applying John's principles day-in and day-out.

It goes back to stories that I've recapped in past podcasts about how I went from entry level to now feeling the responsibility of ownership that I feel. I do believe that it goes back in a leader's life to your capacity to take responsibility.

John often talks about you can't excuse yourself to success. If excuses, or reasons why you're not productive is your go-to strategy, then you have capped yourself in your success. Jason, I'll tell you. I told you right before I don't do this normally, but I said, "Jason, if we're going to camp out on one of these brilliant five points that John did today, I want to camp out on the responsibility one."

I think that's because today as we're in studio, I feel the responsibility of leadership perhaps more than I usually feel it. Today the responsibility of keeping our vision as our driving motivator is competing with my responsibility to take responsibility for commitments I didn't even make.

And isn't that true with leaders? How many leaders out there listening to me in this podcast, you have stepped into a leadership role, either recently or for some time now, and you're having to quote-unquote pay for the sins of the past? You're having to own things that you didn't create.

Guess what? That's not unique to you podcast listener. That is because you are a leader. Leaders cannot abdicate responsibility just because they didn't create, initiate, or ultimately sign up for a task they got. When you sign up for leadership, you take the good and the bad. You take the highs and the lows. You take the moments of great success, and the moments of great learning because of failure.

I feel that today, Jason, perhaps in a different way than I normally would because of where we are as an organization. But I also think I feel that because where we are as a society. Aren't we all captivated with a storyline of the past? Devaluing people. Epitomizing other types of people. A time of polarization all comes from the fact that we don't take responsibility to move to the future because we want to spend too much time talking about the past.

I'm just compelled with this idea of a leader's greatest weight that John talks about is because a leader can give up everything but final authority. If you excuse your responsibility for race reconciliation, or gender equality, or all the things that are facing us as a world today. If you abdicate that because you weren't at the table when some of the insufficiencies, or inadequacies were created, you're not a leader.

And if I abdicate my responsibility of leading today because of decisions that were made yesterday, or 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, I'm not the leader. A leader never abdicates responsibility. It is always the leader's final responsibility.

Jason Brooks:   That's a great observation, but let me ask you this question. One of the things that can burn a leader out is taking on too much responsibility, carrying too much. It's one thing to carry an appropriate amount of weight. It's another thing to feel like you have to carry all of the weight.

So give us some tips, or some hints, or some things you've learned from John that are the difference between sharing responsibility with your team and empowering them to do things, versus abdicating responsibility. How do you know the difference? How do you make sure that you're giving away responsibility appropriately as opposed to ducking responsibility inappropriately?

Mark Cole:       Yeah. Boy, I love this question. Again, Jason, I knew intuitively when we dug into this we would capture every bit of our time with this point.

John's greatest criticism of me, anybody want to know what that is out there? My wife, Stephanie, she doesn't listen to the podcast I think. Jason is raising his hand here in the studio. Some of the rest of you probably want to know because John's so affirming publicly. I mean, he's just so effusive in his appreciation.

John's greatest critique of me is that I'm too hard on myself. Now, I know there's leaders out there. Jason, by the way, I'm looking at you. You're too hard on yourself too. Truly, the adverse of a leader taking ultimate responsibility is the minimizer of that strength. The minimizer is we're so hard on ourself that we never feel contentment. We never feel fulfilled. And we never feel like we have arrived. We're so challenged in the aspiration that we don't know how to celebrate yesterday's accomplishment.

So John's greatest critique is the critique that I would have of you, Jason, of many of the leaders on our team, as well as probably a lot of the podcast listeners. Mark, John says. He said it this week. We were traveling to Colorado, and he said, "Mark, you're too hard on yourself. You're too hard on yourself." And I then turned back to John. I said, "John, if I'm not hard on myself, who else is going to be? I've got to get this done."

So now, using that as a foundation, Jason, to attempt to answer your great question, I'm not very good at it. I'm not very good of determining how to let you, for instance Jason, feel the weight of responsibility of publishing and content because when you come short of a deadline I'm too busy trying to figure out what I could have done as the ultimate leader to have helped you reach your deadline.

But then what that does in some settings, is that allows a weaker leader, or a lesser leader if you'll allow me to use that terminology, to say, "Yep, you're right, Mark. You should have given me more time. Yep, you're right, Mark, you didn't give me all the tools I needed so I didn't hit the deadline because of you." And I've watched that.

Now, let me tell you this right here. I will trade ultimate responsibility for me in taking responsibility for you not hitting your deadline over feeling no responsibility when you didn't hit your deadline, and therefore allowing you to have an excuse of not hitting that deadline because of my leadership.

You see, so we're playing with a dichotomy here of too much self-critique or pressure and ultimate responsibility. It's the same thing I've told John. It's the same thing I want to tell you podcast listeners.

If I'm in a situation to where a leader on my team allows me to take responsibility for their lack of production, they're a short-term at best leader on my team. I'm not going to allow you, Jason, to let my ultimate responsibility stop you from feeling ultimate responsibility either.

At the same time, I would rather be the leader that does look for a way of how I could have improved your ability to hit that timeline than to say, "Jason, why didn't you hit the timeline?" Anybody out there in podcast land work for the person that never took responsibility for the lack of resourcing me to get done what I needed to get done? Yes. We all have, and it's frustrating. I will opt for taking too much responsibility for your lack of producing on my team than having this mindset that I have no responsibility for what you produce on my team.

Jason Brooks:   That brings us to a really interesting inflection point here. Because we've been talking about this almost of the context of you're at the top of our organizational chart. So ultimate responsibility, you ultimately think of, "Oh, CEO." Or founder, or whomever.

But everyone that leads has some form of ultimate responsibility. So me, working under you, one of my ultimate responsibilities is to say, "This is what I need. These are the resources that are required. I have done the research. I have done the necessary legwork. This is what we've got to have to go where we want to go."

Now, if you choose not to resource me, then that's a different conversation. But there's different levels of ultimate responsibility at different levels of leadership. So let me ask you this question, then. How can we as leaders, and this will be our final question because we're close to time here, but how can we as leaders learn to really feel that weight in an appropriate way? How can we, regardless of whether we're a beginning leader, a mid-level leader, a C-level leader, or a founder-level leader, how do we learn to feel the weight of responsibility appropriately, helpfully, and effectively so that we can do the best that we can as a leader?

Mark Cole:       Let me put more category into your classifications of leadership just then, where I am an entry-level employee that aspires to be a leader. In other words, I am an aspiring leader.

Because the answer is the same no matter where you're are. If you want to lead, there's one thing. If you could take away from this podcast today, there's one thing that I would tell you you have to do. You take responsibility for the outcome. Period. You take responsibility for the outcome. Period.

Jason, if we don't have a good financial year this year, do you personally have P&L responsibilities over sales and marketing and all of those things? Do you ultimately answer to me on a P&L question? You don't.

Jason Brooks:   We never have a P&L conversation.

Mark Cole:       But let me tell you this. Here's what I know about you. If we have an off year this year, and we're not thank goodness. Thank the wonderful team, and praise God because we consider him very active in our business. But if we did not hit our P&L, do you know what?

You would come to me in December and say, "Mark, what could I have done better to make sure we hit our financials?" Do you know why? Because while I don't have a P&L responsibility in your daily expectation you feel the weight of responsibility of how our company performs. That's leadership.

So going back to your question. You're a CEO. You're a mid-level manager. You're an aspiring leader. Whatever classification. If you are a leader, here's is the statement. Take responsibility.

I've worked with too many leaders that go, "When I become a leader, we're going to do it this way." And I go, "You're never going to become a leader," because position does not make you a leader. Your sense of responsibility makes you a leader.

So just look at yourself. Are you responsible for the output, outcomes, of the team that you're on or not? Not do you have the position? I didn't ask that question. I didn't ask if you ultimately can control the outcome. I didn't ask that question. Most of us in leadership can't control the outcome, by the way. We just like to think we can. To John's point number five, the leader's greatest handicap is pride.

But let me tell you this right here. If you can ultimately see that you at the end of the day want to learn something on how you can get better on producing better next, you're on your way to leadership. That's no matter what level you are in the organization.

I wrote some notes down as John was teaching. I can honestly say this, Jason, as a leader. And I say this almost knowing that it may sound more self-serving than I want it to, but it's a really important point. I have never relinquished responsibility in difficult times with John Maxwell. Ever.

When we failed, or missed something, or misrepresented his brand, I never have ever went to him and said, "We didn't hit this objective. We didn't represent you well. We didn't do this because X, Y, and Z." Never.

I go to John and say, "We missed it here. We didn't make it here, and let me tell you what I learned I can do different next time because I could have stepped in and done this." And most of the time John says, "Okay, thank you, Mark, for taking responsibility. Now give me the details on what really happened."

I go, "Okay. Well, Jason was caught up in this, and he didn't do this. But let me tell you this. Jason and I have had the conversation. I know how I'm going to better resource him. And, John, Jason and I together, we're going to get this thing figured out next time."  Never. Leaders never excuse production with something other than this is what I can do better next time to make sure that we do what we're supposed to do.

Can I make one more statement, Jason? I'm going to throw it back to you real quick before we sign off today. But I do want to say something about the leader's greatest handicap, because I do think it coincides with where we camped out today. And that is pride.

I have found that prideful leaders do not take responsibility in difficult times. Their pride won't let them. And it's the adverse of taking responsibility. I think the biggest competitor to a leader taking responsibility is the level of a leader's pride, because it's humility, I think, that allows a leader to walk to a superior and say, "We didn't hit the number, and I am going to do this different to make sure we hit it next time." That's humility.

Pride is, "We didn't hit the number, but let me tell you all the things I did right for us to hit the number, and every other person on the team that didn't do what was right." That's pride. It's rooted in pride. If you can be humble as an individual, as an aspiring leader or as an executive, and you can bathe your leadership in humility, you will find it easier to take responsibility from a posture of humility. Every single time.

Jason Brooks:   I love that because we did camp out on responsibility today because it was such a significant piece of the leadership conversation. But every other point that John taught today, whether it was about knowing yourself, developing yourself first, developing your confidence in a healthy way, taking time to think, taming the tiger of pride. All of those root back into a leader being able to take responsibility in a healthy and productive way. Because if you're not growing yourself, if you're not developing yourself, then you're going to be more likely to abdicate responsibility.

Same thing if you're arrogant, then you don't want to take the loss. If you're not doing the right amount of thinking, then you're setting yourself up for the loss. And then, like you just said, pride ultimately is going to keep you from wanting to receive that responsibility as well.

Man, it's been a great conversation. Listeners, if you did not go ahead and download the Bonus Resource, which are the show notes, go back to That's L-E-A-D-E-R-S, no apostrophe, greatest. Click on the Bonus Resource button. Download the pdf notes. Go back. Re-listen to this. Fill in the blanks. Capture all the goodness that Mark and John have shared with you today.

We also invite you to subscribe so that the podcast comes directly to your feed and you can listen to it at your convenience. And if you don't mind, leave us a review, whether it's on iTunes or whatever podcast platform you use. Or you can come to the website, and subscribe there and leave us a review, and let us know how we're doing, what we can do to make the podcast more beneficial to you as a listener.

So, Mark, I'm going to throw it back to you for a closing word. Man, it's been great to be with you today.

Mark Cole:       Yeah, thanks, Jason. Thank you for saying that about leaving us a review. Please do that. If we've added value to you, let us know how we've added value to you. Let us know how we can improve ourselves.

I love being able to show John results, or reviews that we get. And Jason, one more point. John and I are back on the road a little bit now. It's fun going around and meeting those of you that listen to the podcast. I love it every single time this happened. A half a dozen times in my most recent trip, somebody comes up and says, "Thank you for this. Thank you for that. Thank you for what you said on this particular podcast."

So, all of you, you're a part of our community. Come back next week. We've got part two. It's going to make a difference. Hey, until we meet again next week, please pass along the link. Encourage somebody else to subscribe. And let's listen. Let's learn. Let's love. Let's change the world together.

4 thoughts on “The Leader’s Greatest (Part 1)”

  1. Every podcast is so good! I love the insight to how things work and how to handle things that happen on a daily basis. I see mu good areas and where my short comings are. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Bernard! We are so happy to hear the podcast is helping you and your leadership!

  2. John Maxwell and Team have been quite impactful and broadening our Leadership knowledge

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