John Maxwell is one of the best authors on leadership. He has written numerous books and I have read a number of them. His latest which is Leader shift is again a wonderful primer on leading in the 21st century. You would have thought by now he would have exhausted all his books. He keeps coming with new thoughts and new concepts. I did enjoy this book and wanted to give a flavor of what Leadershift is about.
John Maxwell says there are 7 keys to the framework for leadershifting. Here they are with my take on each.
Continually learn, unlearn and relearn: This concept will be applicable even in 2100. We all have the capacity to learn enormously and the resources available to us are numerous. We should also understand that knowledge has a shelf life of 2 years, so we must unlearn. Finally, we must relearn. Here is my formula for learning simplified. Identify the experts in your field, read their blogs, connect with them, read their books, listen to their podcasts, document what you learn and share what you learn. This will keep you in the game for a long time.
Value yesterday but live in today: The takeaway here is don’t get settled on past success. We should look at the present and plan for handling uncertainties. Of course, occasionally nostalgia is good but that should be the exception rather than the rule. So, keep expanding your horizons and set giant goals.
Rely on speed but thrive on timing: Of course, the only thing all customers want is immediate results and immediate attention. Timing is also the key that is when you deliver a product is as critical as how fast you deliver it. Of course, speed without quality will not work. Of course, all startups release products early and we live in an agile world. Mark Zuckerberg has a philosophy of moving fast and breaking things. So be prepared for a product to fail the first time but you can pivot to make it better with real user feedback.
See the big picture as the picture keeps getting bigger: It is so easy to get mired into the trivial, but the true leader has a bigger vision and focuses on the big picture. This requires thoughtfulness and the ability to discern which areas requite attention and which just must be ignored.
Live in today but think about tomorrow: We cannot live in the past. We must paint the future with a great canvas of possibility. One of the keys to be a leader is to have a future mindset. Whatever has not worked in the past will not determine your results in the future. Basically, sometimes you won’t know if something works or not. So, go where the users are. For example, Brian Chesky of Airbnb went to all the users in NY in the initial phase even though it involved considerable cost. So, the key is he had a future orientation.
Move forward courageously in the midst of uncertainty: The only certainty is uncertainty. Be ready to thrive in chaos. Especially when you are starting anything new the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. Being flexible is the key to survival and progress. The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky also addresses this. Failure is merely another way to intelligently begin again. Never give up on your overall vision and remember obstacles come not to obstruct but to instruct. We can even call failures as challenges that are meant to be overcome. Success is not avoiding failure but accepting it and moving forward towards something bigger. In the Jim Collins and Morten Hansen book “Great by Choice” they say all the great leaders whom they call 10Xers have three qualities which make them special and they are fanatic discipline, empirical creativity and productive paranoia. To overcome failure, we need to have fanatical discipline to keep our commitments/vision/goals front and center of our lives. When the going gets tough the tough really get going. In fact, welcoming failure and overcoming it can become a game which you keep winning always. The one thing that is certain in our lives is uncertainty, so we do need to equip ourselves to deal with it.
There you have it the 7 keys to lead successfully in the midst of change and chaos. Of course, the book has so much more than this and is worth a read for sure. This is a wonderful book for all leaders irrespective of industry or whether you are in a startup culture. I found it to be enlightening and insightful. Thanks for reading this post. The other books I liked from him are the 21 Irrefutable laws of leadership, 21 Indispensable qualities of leaders, Sometimes you win Sometimes you learn, Talent is never enough, The Success Journey and Today Matters.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.