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The Leadership Reproduction Cycle

By John C. Maxwell | December 4, 2018
The Leadership Reproduction Cycle

The end of the year is almost here, and I know that many companies are going through the same season as my team at The John Maxwell Company: annual reviews.

This is the time of year when our leaders sit down with their team members and go over PPFs for the past 12 months: Personal, Professional, and Financial goals. After reviewing the wins and lessons of this year, each team member will work with the leader to set goals for next year.

It’s a helpful system that we’ve developed to not only inspire our team members to pursue personal growth but help us as a company live out our values. We believe that helping our people reach their goals within the company and in life is an important part of developing each person’s potential.

We also learn through this process that there are leaders who are ready to step up to a new level of leadership. Young or old, experienced or new to the company, we have people who always want to push themselves in their leadership. It’s a great problem to have.

It also means that we have to make sure the leaders above them are growing as well! Nothing suffocates potential leaders like senior leaders who cease to grow. Leadership means constantly lifting the lid on ourselves, so we can lift the lid on our people.

Call it the Leadership Reproduction Cycle.

If you’ve ever seen the 5 Levels of Leadership, you know that the fourth level is people development (reproduction). Growing leaders grow leaders. It’s just the nature of the role.

I recently shared the following insights with the members of my Maximum Impact Mentoring group, and I want to share a shortened version with you. As you sit down for your own performance review or go over the review of someone who works with you, keep a sharp eye out for leaders ready to rise—be they established leaders or people looking to lead for the first time.

There can never be enough leaders. So here’s how you can keep the Leadership Reproduction Cycle moving in your organization.

Train Leaders

First and foremost, if you’re a leader, you need to be pouring into other leaders. If you’re a leader at a senior level, this has its challenges, but they’re mostly of the time and opportunity variety: do you have enough time to take advantage of the opportunities you have to mentor the leaders on your team?

The answer is always yes—you just have to be intentional about it.

Maybe you’re not a leader with a team or a title; maybe your leadership is unofficial or simply a matter of your own high standards of excellence. Regardless, continue to pour into the people around you. You don’t need a title to lead—leadership is influence, after all, and you can show others how to use it well.

Look for Potential Leaders

As you use your influence to positively impact your team and others, be on the lookout for people who mirror your best efforts. These are the people who buy into the vision, who demonstrate initiative, who serve as a reflection of the power of growth.

You can recognize potential leaders because they ask great questions, want to offer their ideas when working together as a team, and are more committed to the team’s success than their own agenda. They encourage others, grow in their strengths, and sharpen their skills—and they are exactly the kind of people your organization needs to build around.

Mentor Developing Leaders

For those leaders you identify—or have already identified—the next step is intentional time. Yes, you only have so many hours in a day. Yes, every person to whom you give a mentoring meeting means less work you’ll get off your desk.

But you’re a leader. Developing other leaders is your job. So make it a priority.

Hand off some of those pressing tasks—to one of the leaders you’re mentoring! Instead of complaining about the work you’re not getting done, make that work part of your time with that developing leader. Let them take over tasks they can do 80% as well as you—or as my CEO, Mark Cole says, let them run with an average idea that you might never take on, but will produce powerful growth in them.

Don’t be afraid to show someone else how to do what you do—the sooner they can do your job, the sooner you’re freed up to do something that offers you and the company a greater return!

Move Up to New Levels of Leadership

And that’s the beauty of this cycle: when you are consistently training, seeking, and mentoring more and more leaders, you’re creating the opportunity to move up in leadership yourself, where you can keep the cycle going for future leaders.

It’s never too late to start the Leadership Reproduction Cycle in your organization. You can begin this year with something as familiar as the performance review. In fact, because the cycle is a great measure of organizational health, it might be the most important metric you examine this year.

Because if your team is consistently reproducing new and stronger leaders, you’re in a great position for sustained success.

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10 thoughts on "The Leadership Reproduction Cycle"

  • Pacific Islander says: December 5, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    I really enjoyed this piece. I have an upcoming review of an employee, which is our standard procedure. I will use this PPF thinking in my approach. Truly, developing others is the key to a healthy organization. Thank you for this article.

  • Tom Chereck Jr says: December 5, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks. I just met yesterday again with fellow Salem Oregon pastors who meet monthly. I began this year while the group has been meeting for 5 years. We encourage and pray for one another while avoiding to compete with one another. You along with Dale Galloway, Charlie T. Jones, Zig Ziglar, Dick Eastman, Henry Wright, Charles Kraft, C. Peter Wagner, Luis Palau & others have profoundly affected me as a local evangelist leader seeking to reach the lost while ministering to others.

  • Maria Simon says: December 5, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    This gives me a lot to think about as we close out 2018 and plan for 2019 team development – I need to be more intentional about mentoring and seeking mentorship. Thank you!

  • Bob Zuhl says: December 5, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    John, even at 89 you challenge me to move up a little more and influence those around me. I am finishing a book on the subject of Perseverance. It covers some of the lessons I have learned in the journey of 65 years of pastoral ministry. You have been my example and inspiration. God bless for a new wonderful year. Bob Zuhl

  • Dolapi says: December 6, 2018 at 3:36 am

    Quite informative,I plan to use the PPF approach.

  • Robert W. Bernard says: December 6, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you John for this wonderful piece. I will definitely be implementing this and other strategies into my personal and professional development in the coming year. Always learning and growing to be a better person. Thanks for all your valuable insight.

  • Titus Jorge Macuacua says: December 20, 2018 at 1:04 am

    Thank you Mr John C for this wonderful piece. I will definitely be implementing this and other strategies into my personal and professional development in the coming year. Always learning and growing to be a better person. Thanks for all your valuable insight. please send me all your posts i love them.

  • PAMELA MUNYI says: December 20, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Very well put! Thank you for this piece.

    Pamela Rita Kiarie; Nairobi, Kenya.

  • Fernanda says: January 5, 2019 at 6:02 pm


  • Fernanda says: January 5, 2019 at 6:02 pm


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