A survey conducted by Deloitte found “Leadership remains the No. 1 talent issue facing organizations around the world.” While 86 percent of surveyed respondents felt it was important, only 13 percent felt they did an excellent job in terms of leadership development. This research shows that clearly not enough people learn how to be a leader. One of the best resources for learning leadership are John Maxwell books.
His books, for which he is best known, are valuable resources for those wanting to maximize their influence and impact. Below, learn from one of the top mentors and executive coaches in the world by checking out five of Maxwell’s most powerful books on the art of leadership.
Who is John Maxwell?
John Maxwell is a best-selling author, speaker, and business coach. Over the course of his career, he’s written over 100 books, which have sold 24 million copies. Alongside his books, he founded The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP, a leadership training program. Altogether, he’s trained millions in the art of leadership around the world.
While John Maxwell offers many products and services, one of the best introductions to him is through his books. To learn more about how to become an effective leader, check out the book list below.
5 Must-Read Leadership Books by John Maxwell
1. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
“What is a leader and how does leadership work?” The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership answers these two important questions. Since its publication in 1998, this book has sold over one million copies and is recognized as one of the most popular leadership books of all time. Through 21 different laws, it provides readers with a foundational understanding of leadership. Whether you’re new to leadership or looking for continued education, leadership expert John Maxwell’s leadership books guide you through important lessons he’s learned over the course of his 40-year career as a leader. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is a powerful tool that teaches how to effectively lead others.
Best quotes from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership:
- “I believe the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others. That is achieved by serving others and adding value to their lives.”
- “If you can’t influence people, then they will not follow you. And if people won’t follow, you are not a leader. That’s the Law of Influence.”
- “To lead any way other than by example, we send a fuzzy picture of leadership to others. If we work on improving ourselves first and make that our primary mission, then others are more likely to follow.”
2. The 5 Levels of Leadership
Leaders can’t accomplish their vision alone. They must have followers who believe in the company’s mission and want to be part of achieving it. In The 5 Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell describes how leaders gain and maintain a following. As he explains in this book, having the title of Leader is only the first step. There are five different levels in his leadership pyramid and Maxwell provides information on how to master each level. Reaching the top, Level 5: Pinnacle, isn’t easy. A person must spend their life investing, inspiring, and developing others. Their mission is multiplying leaders and amplifying their influence in a way that extends far beyond themselves. As a result, they develop a legacy that lives on, even after their time as a leader ends.
Best quotes from The 5 Levels of Leadership:
- “Your values are the soul of your leadership, and they drive your behavior.”
- “Good leadership isn’t about advancing yourself. It’s about advancing your team.”
- “When you like people and treat them like individuals who have value, you begin to develop influence with them. You develop trust.”
3. Developing the Leader Within You
Developing the Leader Within You, released in 1993, was John Maxwell’s first published book on leadership. It became a bestseller, selling more than one million copies. In 2018, he created a revised version, which includes insights from his nearly three more decades as a leader. This book is really about understanding that when you enter into a leadership role, the only way to be effective is to dedicate yourself to personal growth and service. He defines and explains leadership, leadership traits, and principles and practices of leaders. It’s an inspirational, yet practical book that helps leaders expand or fine-tune their leadership qualities.
Best quotes from Developing the Leader Within You:
- “When the leader lacks confidence, the followers lack commitment.”
- “A leader is great not because of his or her power, but because of his or her ability to empower others.”
- “The boss drives his workers; the leader coaches them. The boss depends on authority; the leader on goodwill. The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm. The boss says ‘I’; the leader, ‘we.’ The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown. The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how. The boss says, ‘Go’; the leader says, ‘Let’s go!’
4. The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth
One common theme in all of John Maxwell’s books is that great leaders constantly pursue personal growth on behalf of those they serve. The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth teaches readers the specific practices essential to growth in life. These principles help leaders align their passion and purpose with strategies for reaching their full potential. This book focuses on the importance of being intentional about growth, creating a plan for development, and putting strategies into action. It teaches the importance of consistency, dedication, resilience, and a real desire to make a change. While the material is easy to follow and pragmatic, Maxwell suggests spending one full week working through each chapter. This gives time to put what you’ve learned into practice before moving onto the next concept.
Best quotes from The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth:
- “Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.”
- “Most people who decide to grow personally find their first mentors in the pages of books.”
- “Comparing yourself to others is really just a needless distraction. The only one you should compare yourself to is you. Your mission is to become better today than you were yesterday. You do that by focusing on what you can do today to improve and grow.”
5. Developing the Leaders Around You
The last John Maxwell book on the list may be his best leadership book, Developing the Leaders Around You. A core component of his teaching is not only growing yourself but working to grow other leaders. Great CEOs, executives, and managers understand the importance of mentorship and the benefit of developing new leaders at every level within an organization. When you select the right hires who align with company values, invest in teaching and developing them, model leadership, and continue growing yourself as a leader, you multiply leaders. When you train successful people to lead, you trust them to help make decisions, problem solve, complete important objectives, and take on delegated work. Building more leaders across the board is key to experiencing greater success, freedom, and fulfillment in life.
Best quotes from Developing the Leaders Around You:
- “Unless you want to carry the whole load yourself, you need to be developing leaders.”
- “Spend 80 percent of your time on the most promising 20 percent of the potential leaders around you.”
- “Followers tell you what you want to hear. Leaders tell you what you need to hear.”
Leadership Isn’t a Job Title—It’s an Act of Service
All of John Maxwell’s resources center around the concept that leadership is not a title. As he’s famous for saying: “Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.” It’s a simple, yet precisely focused definition. What’s notable about his work is that he doesn’t just theorize about effective leadership. Instead, he actually equips successful people to grow their influence from a practical perspective. As a result, he’s influenced millions across the world and exhibited the power of servant leadership.
The type of leaders John Maxwell grows are the type of leaders companies desperately need. For instance, the Human Resources Professionals Association found “63% of millennials feel their leadership skills are not being developed. As a result of this, 71% of those millennial employees want to leave their job within two years to remedy this deficiency.” With this statistic in mind, those who aren’t dedicated to expanding their influence have a 29 percent chance of retaining the largest percentage of their workforce. This is evidence that the cycle of learning and teaching leadership isn’t an option. It’s mandatory if you want to build a successful business.