Mark Cole: Welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership podcast. My name is Mark Cole and on behalf of John Maxwell and our entire podcast team, we are committed to your growth. We're committed to growing your influence so that you can make a difference. Today you've joined us and we're actually in the third part of what is increasingly becoming one of my greatest lessons that John has done on our podcast in the couple of years that we've been doing it. It's called The Leaders Greatest. This is a lesson that John did some time ago talking about the things that make leaders great. And if you missed episode or part one and part two, the last two weeks are episodes, you definitely want to go back and listen to. In fact, you'll be able to download the show notes from all three parts, all three episodes at maxwellpodcast.com/leadersgreatest, no apostrophe there, leaders, L-E-A-D-E-R-S, greatest.
And so today you're going to hear John finish up with numbers 11 through 15. In fact, you're going to hear the leaders greatest joy, the leaders greatest mistake, the leaders greatest prayer, the leaders greatest return and the leaders greatest recognition. When John is done teaching the last five of this 15 segment lesson, Jason Brooks and I will come back and we'll dig into a couple of these. We'll give you some illustration of how we're using that in John's world. And then we'll challenge you to apply it to your world. So come back, listen to Jason and I, but before that, grab a note pad, grab your pen, grab the resource page that we sent you, and listen to John C. Maxwell.
John Maxwell: A leaders greatest joy? Adding value to others. My legacy statement, I hope, will be this. I want to add value to leaders who multiply value to others. That's why we do what we do. I have with me a book. It's a book I wrote several years ago called The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. And you in the room can tell, it's all scotch taped up. It's battered. It's all scotch taped up. It's all marked up. It's got a whole bunch of stuff on the inside. I was in Abuja, Nigeria a few years ago and a guy came up to me with this book and said, "Would you autograph it for me?' And I said, "Well, I'd be glad to." And when I held out my hand I thought, "My goodness, this book has been opened hundreds and hundreds of times. I mean, this book has been used and used and reused and reused."
And so I stopped him and I said, "It's obvious that either you've used this book a lot or you've taken terrible care of it." I mean, you can see it, the whole thing, the whole cover is scotch tape. And he stopped and he said, "Oh, this changed my life." I said, "Tell me about it." He said, "My parents died a couple of years ago," and he said, "I lost hope." And I picked up this book and I realized that I had the qualities of a leader and I determined to become a leader. And so I read this book, I memorized it. And then he said to me, he said, "John," he said, "I have taken hundreds of people through this book. I have mentored hundreds of people."
And I said, "Can I make a trade? I'll trade you a brand new book for this one." And he gave it to me. I keep it in my office. And I keep it in my office for very simple reason. I go by it and look at it and I hold it once in a while like I'm holding it right now. And I'm saying, "This is what you're all about, Maxwell. This is what you're all about. Add value to people. This is what I live for. This is my greatest joy."
So the leaders greatest joy is adding value to people. The leaders greatest mistake is putting self before others. It is impossible to consistently add value to others if you place yourself before them. That is an absolute fact. When people talk to me about adding value to people, you just have got to understand it is impossible to consistently add value to people if you somehow place yourself first.
And let me tell you where I learned that. 1976, in the coliseum in Dayton, Ohio with 10,000 people. I sat on the front row. I'll tell you when I was in the growing learning stages of my life in my 20s and 30s, I always sat in the front row. I never sat in the back row. I sat in the front row. I want to get as close as I could to the person that was talking. I wanted to get everything I possibly could. And I watched Zig Ziglar for the first time walk around with that great Southern voice of his and that great communication style. And I can remember him looking at the crowd and saying, "You can get anything you want in life if you first help people get what they want." That changed my life.
Because up until 1976, every place I went I thought, "I wonder what I can get for myself. I wonder if I can get these laymen working here for me. I wonder if I can get these people doing this." And it was always that. And all of a sudden I realized, "John, you've got this thing I'll turned around. Quit worrying about yourself and start adding value to people." And I've told Zig many, many times on the golf course and times we've been together, I've said, "Zig, you have no idea. That day changed my life. That's when I understood." That's when I understood what Robert Louis Stevenson said, when he said, "The success of my day is determined by the seeds I sowed not by the harvest I reap."
Can I tell you something? You just sow seeds. You just add value. You just put others first and just let the compounding happen, folks. Just let it happen. But it's impossible to add value to others if you put yourself first. So, in your notes, our success is determined by the seeds we sow, not the harvest we reap. My morning question, every morning, I asked myself the question this morning, is, "Who can I add value to today?" That's my morning question. I mean, that's my every morning question. I mean, it's a boring question isn't it? Every day, "Okay, who can I add value to today?" Guess what my evening question is? I look back at my day and I ask myself, "Did I add value to other people today? Did I do what I wanted to do this morning?" It's all about adding value. Can I tell you something? If you can do that every day, you'll gain all the influence you ever want to have. You'll get all the leadership you've ever wanted to possess. It'll all Come to you. Trust me. If you just are intent and intentional of adding value to people.
Number 14, the leaders greatest prayer, I believe, is for wisdom. At least that's been mine. I have prayed more for wisdom than anything else. And there's a passage in the Bible, James 1:5, that says, "If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the father. He loves to help." Boy, I like that. You'll get His help and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. So I pray for wisdom. Now, why do I pray for wisdom as a leader? It's very simple. Because I don't know what to do. I'm over my head all the time. And when you're over your head it doesn't matter how deep it is. You're still over your head. I mean, you can drown in seven foot of water or 70 foot of water. It doesn't matter. So when I'm over my head, what do I do?
I pray for wisdom because I say, "God, you're going to have to help me." Wisdom is knowing what to do next. What leader doesn't need to know that. Skill is knowing how to do it. Virtue is doing it. Dr. Mayo said, "When knowledge is translated into the proper action, we speak of it as wisdom."
The leaders greatest return is developing people. So what does developing people mean? If that's the greatest return for leaders developing people. Well, it means I value them. It means I commit time to them. Developing people means I mentor them, which is different than the next, developing people means I equip them. Mentoring them gets them ready for life. Equip them gets them ready for a job. Developing people means I empower them. And I think the greatest return of a leader is developing people.
Which brings me to the last point. The leaders greatest recognition is respect. Notice, that's the highest level of leadership, the personal level of respect. Three quick respect comments. Number one, respect is not a personal right. Boy, I could declare that every day. Respect is not a personal right. It's not a personal right of yours to be respected. Here's the quote I love, "Everyone has the right to speak, but you have to earn the right to be heard." So go ahead and speak. Doesn't mean I'm going to listen to you, but just speak. Just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. There's a lot of difference between having the right to speak and the right to be heard.
Secondly, respect is usually gained on difficult ground. On other words, people usually gain respect through their most difficult times. Leaders gain respect when they take the company through a very troubling time. Presidents gain respect when they bring the country through a very difficult dark time. The reason Abraham Lincoln is the most revered President of United States, is he took America through it's darkest hour. So therefore he took them through the darkest hour successfully, so therefore he is the highest respected. Respect is a definite relationship between difficult times and gaining respect if you do it correctly.
And number three, these three things comprise respect, character, plus competence, plus consistency. You can't eliminate any of them. You have to have all three of them. That equals respect. And it's probably the most rewarding. Those are the greatest things in a leaders life. Thank you very much.
Mark Cole: Welcome back, Jason and I here in studio. And Jason, 15 points of leaders greatest. And a part of me goes, man, there's probably 15 more. Part of me says, "Good grief. I'm overwhelmed. I've got a lot of things to work on to become a great leader." Because John really has impacted us in this series. I've enjoyed doing it with you. I can't believe we're third week, third part of this incredible lesson, but let's dig in today and talk about the leaders greatest additional things. Man, welcome back.
Jason Brooks: Man. I'm glad to be back. It's joy to just get on and do this podcast with you every time I get the opportunity. So I'm happy to be here. And I wanted to start where John left off. He talked about the leaders greatest recognition is respect, and it immediately struck me. One of my jobs is being in charge of content, is contextualizing Maxwell principles for the modern era. So I do a lot of study about the culture, where the world is going, particularly here in the States, but even globally. And one of the things that I have noticed, it's been talked about in other places, but the concept of respect seems to have lost a little bit of its luster.
We don't respect people the way we used to. And part of it is we're learning that some people demanded respect without earning it. Some people expected for us to just kowtow to them. But I still think that we have lost a little bit of something in terms of respect. And I wanted to camp out here just kind of kicking things off because if it's really the leaders greatest recognition, and yet it's not something that's valued today, that kind of presents a bit of a problem. And so how can we as leaders, first of all, restore the value of respect within our people? And then how can we make sure that we live in a way that we earn that respect from our people?
Mark Cole: Man, I love this question and I love the angle that you took us immediately coming out of this three part lesson, because just to substantiate what you're saying, Jason, John some time ago started saying that he's leadership sad. That there is a state of affairs, a state of leadership, where we are right now that makes John Maxwell, this sense that, "Man, there is a sadness. There is a deficit to the idea of good leadership." I've been saying to our team now for about a year, year and a half, Jason, you've heard me say this, we're in a leadership deficit in the world.
Here's what I mean. Our brand, our style of leadership here at the Maxwell Enterprise is this, it's a values based. We start with values. We're people of value, that value people, and we look for ways to add value to people. We're a values based organization. Secondly, we're people centered. We believe our agenda is second at best, it's probably third, fourth, fifth, 10th, somewhere, and people's agenda should be first. Leadership is all about others. All about others, gang. The world is made up of others except one trivial exception.
Let's just put ourself into perspective. It's all about people. We're people centered. Values-based, people-centered, servant leadership. We believe the best model of leadership is serving others, serving the agenda, having a posture of a towel over our forearm, being on a knee, serving others, and making others or other things more important than us. So it's a values-based, people-centered, servant leadership. So when John says, "I'm leadership sad." When Mark Cole says, "There's a deficit of leadership." We're talking about that style of leadership.
Let me further corroborate with what you were saying, Jason. We recently partnered with an organization, ONEHOPE, and we started bringing leadership content to 4 million, now, it's been over 4 million kids in Africa. It's a special project that we're working with them. Before we started this, we did an assessment of these young people. We took 1000 young people and we did an assessment on them. And we found out that 84% of kids at high school age had no desire to be a leader when they got out of high school. Can you imagine a world where 84%, eight and a half kids out of 10 said, "No, thank you. I don't want to lead when I get out of high school." That's so foreign to me, I can't even figure it out.
We went further, why? And it's because in their community, they equated leadership with corruption, with leaders that were abusive, that did not care for the people. And we went through and had them describe what leadership meant to them and it was all of these horrific words that unfortunately now are starting to describe other leaders around the world. We took them on a 16 week journey of describing values-based, people-centered, servant leadership. And would you believe when we were done, we had 8.7 kids out of 10, 87% of the kids said, "I now want to leave high school and go lead other people."
When you give people the right perspective of leadership, now, all of a sudden you can make leadership respectable again. Don't miss the point. Leadership has lost respect around the world, in many communities, in most streams of influence, political, religious, business, education, health, media, sports, every stream of influence now have more icons of what not to do than what to do in the idea of values-based, people-centered, servant leadership. So to your point, and I'm sorry, I took a long time to corroborate your point. We have a leadership deficit. We have a lack of respect for the concept of leadership in the world today.
Now we believe we have a mission and a purpose to change that so we have a lot of hope in all the dismal expression that I just gave you. But it's really this. The leaders greatest recognition is respect. And yet we have a world that the idea of leadership has lost great respect. So how do we get it back? How do we understand that? I think John has given us a formula here by saying, "Hey, respect is not a personal right." Just because you have the position does not mean you all of a sudden get respect. But most of us, think back to your first leadership assignment, podcast listeners, you went home and you went, "Yep. I've arrived. People now call me boss."
There's this natural human tendency that says when we get positioned, when we get stature, when we get finances, when we get something, we deserve respect. No, respect is not a personal or a leadership right. You still have to do something to get respect.
Second thing that John says is something none of us want to hear. You want to get respect? It's going to come hard. It's going to come difficult. It's going to come with a challenge or two or five or 10 or 20 before you get the respect. It doesn't come with promotion. It comes with challenge, tribulation. It comes with difficulty. And then John says, "Character, competence, and consistency." Oh, shoot. Not the consistent word again. So I want respect. I want it now. And I want you to give it to me so I can get you where I want to go.
There's nothing in that that speaks of consistency. Consistency compounds, but you have to give day in and day out, this valuing people, this people's agenda is more important than my agenda, this servant leadership, let me decrease so you, follower, can increase, this mindset that is consistent that brings about respectable leadership.
Jason Brooks: It's funny. If we want to be respected, then we've got to respect first. It's John's law of the picture. People will do what people see. And so if we as leaders want respect, we need to give respect. We need to be respectful of our partners. We need to be respectful of our team members. We need to be respectful of spouses, family members, people in the community. It has to begin with us. And I love that you pointed out the consistency word. It is a long, slow, challenging process that we have to be committed to. And so it's got to be an internal value for us as leaders, if we want that value to move out into others.
And I appreciate that because we so often want the quick fix. Like you said, we expect that, "Oh, I got a position so now you must respect me." But respect is earned with how you leverage that position. Do you use it for your benefit, for the benefit of others? It goes back to what John talked about in one of his earlier points. The greatest mistake we can make is to put our agenda ahead of everybody else's and that goes back to what you were saying.
Let me ask you a question. When have you felt most respected as a leader? You've been in the game now for, gosh, you basically been leading your whole life, but with Maxwell it's 21 years now, 11 in the driver's seat as CEO. You've recently become owner of a lot of the operations. And so what are some of the ways that you have felt most respected and what does that do for you as a leader? How does that impact you in the way you want to lead?
Mark Cole: Let me give you two examples. I can think of a half a dozen. Thanks for that question. And for our podcast listeners, I share this part of my story here, because I want to inspire you in your story, in your journey. Not because I need to sound respectable to you. I'm just a guy trying to make it just like all of you out there are leaders, women, and men trying to make it. But to your question, one of the greatest times that I felt respected is when John dedicated his book Developing The Leader Within You 2.0 to me.
Now, I've told a little bit of this story before on a podcast episode, but I'm going to bring it to you from a place of respect, because it's not the notoriety of having a book dedicated to me by John Maxwell that's sold millions of copies. That's not it. It's not that John Maxwell, my mentor, thinks so good of me that he would send that to me. Here's what was the most impacting part of that book dedication. He spoke of my internal character, my internal consistency, my internal influence, more than anything that I had done externally, more than my position as CEO, more than the fact that he could depend on me for 20 years. It was a lot about this internal leader that John had observed.
The reason that felt so respectable to me, Jason, is because when the lights turn off, when the microphone's cut off, when the stage is collapsed, when nobody is looking, there is the leader that you really want to be. That's the leader that you really want to be respectable. In other words, it's the leader that we see ourselves as being. And when John chose to dedicate a book, Developing The Leader Within You, it spoke very highly to me in a lot of ways and I felt very respected and appreciated by John because of noting things that were very important to me.
So respect is earned on difficult ground. Respect is most meaningful when it is in the area that matters the most to you. And, man, I want to be a leader on the inside greater than anything anybody else sees. That's why that was respectful. The other one was recent. I mean, I just heard this, oh man, I guess it was last week as we're recording this podcast. One of our equip board members has led a large publicly held company, led it for 25 years, and I'm talking about a Fortune 50, $55 billion company. He's on our board, and he was playing golf at a really nice course, two weeks prior, and then I was playing golf with him one week after he played with John. And John came back and told me a story. In fact, he said it publicly that night in front of this board member as well as myself.
He said that this board member looked over at him and said, "John, of all the things you've done for me personally, and for the world globally, I think your greatest leadership contribution when it's all said and done will be how you have mentored and developed Mark Cole into the leader that he is." Now, here's why that was respectful to me, again, powerful statement from a very powerful person about somebody so powerful that has done great things, and it's about me personally, but here's why that meant great respect to me. That true leadership is not in the big press releases, in the powerful moments, it's in 101 when you make somebody else more important than you. And what this board member was saying is, "John, when you decided to demonstrate individually what you say corporately, when you decided to give to someone that was not paying you for a book, but you were actually paying, when you decided to live out what you say publicly, privately, that's going to be your best leadership contribution."
And so it was the significant of the act, not the fact that I got to be the benefactor, but I felt greatly respected because of this. Our people-centered, values-based, servant leadership message works, and it works internally as well as externally.
Jason Brooks: Man. There's so much to unpack out of what you just shared. And I appreciate you taking the time to tell personal stories. I don't think anybody would confuse what you just shared with self-aggrandizement. And I hope that the listeners at least picked up on this, respect is seeing people for who they truly are, seeing people also for who they can become. John has seen you for who you are, and then here's this CEO talking about John's willingness to invest in you because of who John saw you could become. And both of those things, the recognition of potential and the investment in potential, are a fantastic way of conveying respect. I have felt respected by you as a leader because both of those things. You've invested in me as a person, but you've invested in who I can become. And it's been significant in my life, in ways that I've articulated on other podcasts and articulated to you personally.
But I think, if we want to bring it back full circle, if we want to see respect return, if we want to receive respect, then we must first give it, which means we've got to take that leap of faith and see people as they are, but also see people as they could be and make the choice to invest in that and choose to believe it. And I think, to your point, that's how we get respect back into the world.
And that strikes me because it's not a granted, I've never been to Wharton, I've never been to any of the major business schools, I've read a lot of business books, but we don't talk often about things like respect or the way respect works, because those are wisdom pieces. And John talks about the leaders greatest prayer is for wisdom. Why is wisdom is so essential for leadership and why does it make such a difference?
Mark Cole: Faith is a real foundation to our leadership and our development. John and I both grew up in a community and an environment that faith was just coined and became the foundation for everything. And we try to be very respectful of that because there's a lot of people that does not have that context. And too many times, people with strong faith roots tries to make that everybody's roots. And it's just simply not true. But John and I both have this really strong foundation and community and family and development early in our life around a faith component. And so I've heard John talk about his greatest prayers, greatest propensity to inviting God into who he is, often. But I'll tell you in today's podcast, Jason, I mean, you heard me audibly here in studio, just go, "Ah." when he said, not only the leaders greatest prayer is wisdom like you're talking about, but he said, "Wisdom is knowing what to do next. Skill is knowing how to do it. And virtue is doing it."
And I was really challenged with a prayer I've heard Andy Stanley make, he says, "God, give me the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it." And I pray that often because my words this year is strength and courage. I want the strength to do what needs to be done and I want the courage that is required to mentally, emotionally, leadership wise make those decisions. And so when we make that understanding that wisdom is really key to leadership, it's the greatest prayer, it's the greatest understanding that we need to know what to do next. And I love what John said in the podcast just now he said, "Man, I pray for wisdom because I don't know what to do half the time."
And I laughed because John's never short of an answer. I mean, I've been around him, I'm close to him. And it's funny to hear him say, "I don't know what to do." Because he as my leader has always seemed like he knows what to do. But I know what John's saying, and I'm close enough to John, that I understand leadership. Man, leadership many times is a reliant on wisdom beyond us to do what it should be done and to know what should be done. And I think that's why John coined the idea of leadership wisdom, not in experience, not in intelligence, but in a pursuit of understanding good wisdom comes from without, not within. Good wisdom comes in our case from prayer. Wisdom comes from many of us, you, on the podcast, it comes from external counsel. Wisdom for many of us comes from a mentor that has been there, done that.
But understand this. I think John's point here, the reason it's a prayer, it's a hope, it's an aspiration for something greater, external, to us. The reason it's a prayer is because wisdom has to come from without, not within, and us as leaders need to understand that. And our pursuit of, as John says, "knowing what to do next, knowing how to do it, and then ultimately do it," it starts with an awareness that we need to pray. We need to pursue. There's a passage of scripture that says in all of your getting, and everything you pursue, pursue wisdom. The version that I grew up reading, Jason, perhaps like you is in all of your getting, get wisdom. Well, in all your pursuit, pursue wisdom. And I think that's a great statement that John's making here is that needs to be a prayer of all of ours.
Jason Brooks: Can you give us, we're close to time, so I'll make this the last question. In your experience what's the difference between genuine wisdom and knowledge? Some people confuse knowledge with wisdom, and whether it's in the scriptures or whether you go into other philosophers, people make the distinction that wisdom and knowledge aren't necessarily the same thing. So in your experience, what is the difference between wisdom and knowledge and why is wisdom so much more valuable than knowledge?
Mark Cole: Yeah. So, Jason, I would really put that question back to you because you're so articulate with words and content, and I do want you to wrap this because there are some people out there with great distinction of, "Wisdom is this and knowledge is this." And I've heard multiple ones and I'm not going to quote any of them. I'm going to give you my answer because that's what you're asking. But I do want you to come back and wrap the difference between wisdom and knowledge.
I think wisdom is active. Knowledge is reactive. I think wisdom is proactive, and the ability to take something and do something with it. Knowledge left without the wisdom of knowing what to do with what you know is relatively ineffective. I know to do good. I don't do it. That's not very wise. Got a lot of knowledge, I know, but I don't. That's not wise. That's foolish, in fact. That's the opposite of wise. So knowledge and wisdom are very, very different because knowledge, I've had wisdom with knowledge, I've had wisdom without knowledge. Wisdom of going into a situation and knowing it was going to be okay, not because of facts and data, but because of certainty that the vision was going to propel beyond whatever obstacle or distraction would come my way. That's wisdom. Knowledge is sitting here analyzing it, sometimes doing something with it, not doing something with it, sometimes being paralyzed with knowledge and sometimes being much more educated in the right movement. All good, I want knowledge too, trust me, but if I have to choose between the two, I want wisdom, the ability to know that the vision is more important than the distraction, than knowledge, knowing all the distractions and calculating the risk on whether I even want to move forward.
So that's kind of how I interface the two, but I really do push it back to you and say, "Give us some pontification of the difference between wisdom and knowledge, Jason."
Jason Brooks: Well, I've talked a lot over the last three episodes, so I'll try and keep this brief. I think in my experience, like you said, wisdom is knowledge applied. And the reflection upon that application. Knowledge is just the accumulation of information, data, facts, whatever. I have found in my life that knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge is often a great distraction from the action that wisdom requires. I may know that I need to do something because wisdom tells me that's the right thing to do, but if I'm afraid to do it, or if I just am reluctant to pull the trigger on it, then I'll go bury my, so I need more information. I need more knowledge. I need to know more about this before I pull the trigger on it.
And I love what you said, that there are times where knowledge, as great as it is, as beneficial as it is, it's not going to help you because there has to just be that reliance on the experience that wisdom brings. And I love the distinction that you made, knowledge is something that I can do on my own. Knowledge comes from things that I've done. I know how to write. Finally, I'm one chapter away from being done with my book on writing, and it's everything that I know about writing, but there's also wisdom in it because of how I've applied what I knew. And so for leaders, if we're going to take anything away, hey, learn as much as you can, get the facts right, get the data right, because they are your friends. But at the end of the day, what's going to help you is that wisdom of the mentor that's gone before, or the wisdom that's poured into you through prayer, or the wisdom that's poured into you through the experience of other people who have lived out your situation.
And that kind of wisdom is exactly what helps you activate your skill so that you can turn it into the virtue that John was talking about. Man, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to just share my brain here for a second.
Mark Cole: Well, thank and thanks as always for being such an incredible co-host with me. It's funny, as you were saying that, it feels like knowledge is acquired experience and wisdom is aspiring experience. I want to aspire to experiences that make me wiser. I want to use knowledge for acquired experiences that I have.
Hey, for all of you that have just truly been a part of every one of this three part series. I know you have thoroughly enjoyed this. I have. It was very, very relevant to where John and I are and what we're trying to do, as I noted in today's pre-call comment or pre-content comments. And as I stated at the beginning of this call today, we are committed to your growth. We're committed to your growth influencing others. And if we've added value to that, I know we have in so many ways, we hear about it all the time when we're on the road, do us a favor. It adds value to us so that we can better multiply value to others when you go to wherever you listen to this podcast and give us a rating. I hope that you're able to give us a five star. We're doing a really diligent job of adding value or attempting to add value to you. Go to maxwellpodcast.com, give us a comment, make us better. Let us know that we're impacting you.
And then finally, I would just say, pay it forward. Be an impactor to others. Take this podcast, challenge others to subscribe it, download the show notes, share it with your team, and let's together make a difference. Let's do lead. Let's do love. Let's do learn. But let's do change the world. Let's do something with it. Let's apply it and make something happen together. Thanks for listening to the podcast today. Thanks for making this such a meaningful time for Jason, John, and I, Jake, our producer, to come to you and add value to you. Thanks. We'll see you again next week.