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“Leadership Theories” by John Maxwell

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John Maxwell is the founder and chairman of the INJOY Group, organizations he created to partner with people by helping them to maximize their personal and leadership potential. He is an expert on leadership, speaking to more than 250,000 people a year on growth, leadership and personal development. Last January, our country was privileged enough to have him come over and conduct a Leadership Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.

Maxwell was born in Ohio to a pastor and a homemaker. From the early age of three, Maxwell knew that he wanted to follow his father’s footsteps (Melvin Maxwell) and become a leader too. At age 17, he began preparing himself for the ministry, attending Circleville (Ohio) Bible College and earning a bachelor’s degree in 1969. Upon graduation, he and new wife Margaret moved to tiny, rural Hillham, Indiana to accept John’s first job as pastor of a small church.

Just a year into his first job, Maxwell felt a calling to personal evangelism and began to expand his preaching and speaking outside of his immediate congregation. In 1972, he began to be aware of the enormous impact of leadership on the effectiveness of ministries – and this became his goal – to study, practice and teach leadership.

In 1985, Maxwell founded INJOY to serve pastors around the country (United States), and he left his own church in 1995 (after tripling the size of the congregation in his 14 year tenure) to devote himself full time to the organization.

Now a teacher and speaker, Maxwell is in great demand around the globe, reaching more than 250,000 people in personal appearances and more than a million through his many books, seminars, audio and video resources each year.

Maxwell is the author of more than 20 books, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, which was published in 1999.

The father of two grown children, Maxwell and his wife Margaret live in Atlanta.


In the cutthroat world of business, leaders are made, not born. One man in the business world has become a prominent figure by proving this point. John C. Maxwell has redefined the word leader. In his book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, he gives emphasis to 21 qualities that a leader should have. He wants readers to understand what makes people want to follow a leader. His objective is to transform readers into becoming persons others will want to follow. In 21 chapters, he unfolds the qualities that are indispensable of a leader.


In each of the chapters, John Maxwell discusses a quality briefly but thoroughly and effectively keeps readers on the edge of their seats. The uniformed sequence of all the chapters, from 1 to 21, starts with quotations from all over the world. A story or an event is then narrated, involving the quality to be discussed in the chapter. Maxwell then reflects on the story’s implications about leadership, and then highlights key points that he feels should be emphasized about the quality. He then shifts his focus from theories to present day applications, which are then followed by specific and concrete ways for readers to improve on this certain quality. To conclude his chapter, Maxwell again narrates a short story.

Chapter 1: Character РBe a Piece of the Rock: In the first chapter of the book, Maxwell suggests to the reader to first reflect on his/her life and list down instances where he/she may have compromised or let people down. The reader must then search for any pattern that may emerge. But hardest of what the reader must do for the chapter, he/she must accept and face his flaws. To rebuild a new life and a new future, he/she must then prevent himself from making the same mistakes again and start honing conviction and principle into his person.

Chapter 2: Charisma – The First Impression Can Seal the Deal: John Maxwell insists that for the reader to improve on his/her charisma, he/she must first change his focus when it comes to conversing with others. The reader must try to determine how much of his/her conversations with others are focused on him/herself. He/She is then advised to play the “First Impression Game”, wherein he/she must make a good first impression in all conversations. To play the game, he/she must shift his/her topic away from him/herself, and towards the other party. Last, he/she must open up and share him/herself with others by listening, complimenting and giving advice.

Chapter 3: Commitment – It Separates Doers from Dreamers: To prepare the reader for the exercise, Maxwell asks him/her to measure the amount or intensity of his/her commitment for different aspects of his/her life. After this, he must take a second look at his priorities and rearrange them by reflecting on which are of more importance than the others. Maxwell’s next advice is for the reader to publicly announce his/her refreshed commitment to certain things in his life, so to prevent backing out from the goals.

Chapter 4: Communication – Without It You Travel Alone: John Maxwell insists that in communicating, the message must be simple and clear. A leader must not beat around the bush but get straight to the point. Maxwell then tells the reader to focus his/her attention to the people he/she will communicate with — what their needs are, what touches them, etc. But apart from using this knowledge, he/she must believe in and live out his/her message.

Chapter 5: Competence РIf You Build It, They Will Come: Maxwell asks the reader to check if he/she is still committed or emotionally involved with his/her education, work, or family. If he/she continues to go that extra mile, the reader must continue improving himself and performing with excellence. If he/she has been non-performing, the reader must begin redefining the standards of his/her work to challenge himself and to bring back the satisfaction and involvement with his/her job. To be a leader, one has to be an inspiration. To be an inspiration, one must exert effort for improvement and exceeding expectations.

Chapter 6: Courage- One Person with Courage Is a Majority: Being brave is not the absence of fear but, rather, it is the presence of fear and overcoming it. The reader must learn to face his/her fears. He/she must learn to confront people with whom he/she is in conflict with. With that newfound courage, the reader can make things right and also inspire his/her followers. One will always be at awe with a person who bares his/her fears and fights it.

Chapter 7: Discernment – Put an End to Unsolved Mysteries: First, Maxwell asks the reader to analyze past successes. Was he/she able to solve problems easily despite complexities and unpredictable factors? He/She must learn to react to certain problems with conditioned instincts so that solutions could be implemented as soon as possible. Maxwell also suggests reading on great and discerning leaders who were able to solve almost unsolvable problems. By learning how these leaders think, one can become sharper in attacking problems. One must listen to that voice in his/her head, and go for that practiced gut feeling.

Chapter 8: Focus – The Sharper It Is, the Sharper You Are: John Maxwell has assumed that the reader is trying to focus on his/her weaknesses as he/she reads. But instead, he suggests that the reader shifts his/her focus on his/her strengths more. For optimal performance, one must work in jobs of his/her expertise or strength, and delegate tasks that transverse one’s weaknesses to others. After working mostly in areas of one’s strength, one may then consider developing that strength and taking it to the next level.

Chapter 9: Generosity – Your Candle Loses Nothing When It Lights Another: To test one’s generosity, one must first give his/her most prized possession to¬†someone who needs it more. A generous person is one who gives of his time, money, effort, concern, ear, and self to people who can use and/or develop it for the better. If he/she knows someone with a vision, he/she must provide that person with resources for that person to achieve the goal.

Chapter 10: Initiative – You Won’t Leave Home without It: A leader has initiative if he/she has a strong vision, belief or principle and acts upon it. He/She does not wait for someone to pinch their arm; rather, they take the risk and act. Although mistakes come along with these risks and actions, he/she must not be held back, for from these mistakes one may learn to discern better in the future.

Chapter 11: Listening – To Connect With Their Hearts, Use Your Ears: Maxwell, first, asks the reader to check if he/she is spending enough time listening to employees, customers, suppliers, followers, etc. An effective listener seeks common ground to build connection with the other party, and listens to the facts that he/she might or might not want to hear.

Chapter 12: Passion – Take This Life and Love It: A passionate leader must not only have passion, but shows it. If one has been derailed by different factors from his/her love, he/she must refresh memories of his/her first passion in life to remind him/herself how he/she had gotten to this point in career or stage in life. Maxwell also suggests that to keep that fire in one’s heart kindling, one must associate with people with the same passion, and quotes, “Birds of the same feather flock together”.

Chapter 13: Positive Attitude – If You Believe You Can, You Can: A positive attitude keeps a person intensely committed to his/her job to the end, but one must receive a regular dosage of positive attitude. A leader may then set goals for him to achieve and give him/herself reinforcements to keep him/her on track towards his/her goals.

Chapter 14: Problem Solving – You Can’t Let Your Problems Be a Problem: For John Maxwell, a leader must chase problems instead of chasing them away. It is with these problems that the leader will have the opportunity to grow.¬†The author then provides the reader with a 5 step process on how to tackle problems. It has the acronym of TEACH meaning: time, exposure, assistance, creativity and hit it. Similar to Passion, a leader must associate him/herself with people who do not avoid problems but who attack them head-on.

Chapter 15: Relationships – If You Get Along, They’ll Go Along: If the reader’s ability to understand people needs improvement, he/she can jump-start it by reading books on the subject. John Maxwell even cites some books for the convenience of the readers. He then advises the reader to return to and refresh fading relationships in friendship, family or work.

Chapter 16: Responsibility – If You Won’t Carry the Ball, You Won’t Lead the Team: A responsible leader is an effective worker, who gets the job done and who is driven by excellence and high standards. Maxwell advises the reader to check if present circumstances in his/her work are brought by persistent problems. He/She must then learn to admit weaknesses and mistakes so that he/she could reset standards and accomplish goals excellently.

Chapter 17: Security – Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity: Knowing oneself is already half of the equation of being a good leader, but accepting one’s weaknesses and learning to give credit to the strengths of others is the other. As a leader leads a team, he/she must share the responsibility as well as the credit. A secure leader will know when he/she can do the job and when he/she needs help.

Chapter 18: Self-Discipline – The First Person You Lead Is You: A leader must sort out his/her priorities to know what are most important to him/her. To accomplish goals in work, family and life, one must stick to his/her priorities — know when to indulge oneself or push oneself further. A leader can only discipline his/her people if he/she is self-disciplined as well.

Chapter 19: Servanthood- To Get Ahead, Put Others First: The first act of servanthood is to perform small acts of kindness. Move into action by serving others first.

Chapter 20: Teachability- To Keep Leading, Keep Learning: John Maxwell suggests to the reader to look at him/herself from another perspective, by observing how he/she reacts to triumphs or mistakes. To reach new limits and explore possibilities, one must learn first to expand his/her horizon, stretch out his/her arms fearlessly, reach onto new things and learn. For only through learning can one continue to improve and develop as a person, employer, manager or leader.

Chapter 21: Vision- You Can Seize Only What You Can See: A leader with a vision is a leader who can act with commitment and conviction in what he/she does. Maxwell suggests that the reader look into his/her life and see what he/she strongly believed/believe must be changed or added into people’s lives. Experiences in the past may give one a vision that could change their future and the future of others for the better.



√†The book displays a short but sufficient list of strong qualities that one might aspire to have. John Maxwell claims that each quality is indispensable but also claims that it is naturally difficult for one to manifest all qualities, or even just one, in one’s personality or behaviour. By doing so, the author is able to sympathize with the reader’s weakness and is also able to encourage the reader to address his/her weaknesses so that he/she may reform and improve.

àThe author first presents the quality (e.g. commitment) along with a tag line that briefly defines the quality. Then two quotes on the quality are stated. These quotes have been said or written by renowned persons, such as chairmen, executives or writers. These quotes are witty and inspirational and give readers a thought to ponder on, making them eager to read the chapter.

àThe author then proceeds with a very inspirational and brilliantly chosen short story about a renowned person who extraordinarily practices the quality being introduced. The story starts out with a little introduction about the person, oftentimes how the person started out at first, and then, how the person succeeded in his own field, affected other people, or made a difference in the world, by manifesting the quality in his/her work.

àIn the Fleshing It Out, the author enumerates how person manifests the quality in his personality, behaviour and work. Here, certain renowned persons are brought up again as examples. Readers are easily inspired by these great success stories. They are also given very concrete examples about what these people did so that the readers could then see how the quality can be manifested in their work and lives.

àThe author also gives several obstacles which could be leading, or could lead, people to fail in practicing the quality. Readers could then easily identify these obstacles in their own work, families and relationships. Along with these obstacles, the book gives tips on how to overcome them.

√†Reflecting On prods the reader to reflect on his/her life, experiences and relationships by gently asking questions about bad experiences, obstacles and failures to do the right things. This section encourages recognizing and admitting one’s faults and weaknesses or ending up an ineffective leader.

àBringing It Home tells the readers specifically what to do. This is written in definitive, brief advices that would make readers think and eagerly agree to start acting after putting down the book. Sometimes, the book even tells the reader to get a pen and start writing down points about his/her life.

àDaily Take-Away gives very interesting trivia about certain renowned persons who practiced deftly the quality being discussed, and ends with a very witty remark by this particular person.

√†The book gives very many inspirational figures for its readers to imitate or¬†follow. And these examples are usually followed by simple suggestions on how to apply whatever these figures do or did in one’s life.

àThe book is very encouraging to readers who might find it hard to change their ways because it is gentle and prodding but very firm and practical. It encourages reader to simply take their time practicing and practicing until they have truly mastered the qualities.

à John Maxwell was able to make something difficult, like advising on how one can become a leader, into something really simple. The book does not intimidate readers with highfaluting words. Someone as great and renowned as John Maxwell in the field of leadership is able to reach down and touch the lives of the readers.

à The book is practical since it goes down straight to the point. Readers would also find it convenient to go ahead and look for the trait that he feels he is lacking in. For example if one feels he lacks the skills needed to make people believe in him, then he could easily read about charisma and communication. The good thing about the book is that you do not have to read the whole book to understand the chapters in it. Each chapter is independent from each other. But as you read every chapter, you would realize that all of them are connected and interacts with each other to form a complete leader.


àPeople come from different organizational cultures and geographical cultures, and different professions and careers. These cultures or professions might value qualities differently and might not agree with all the qualities in the book; or they might refute that the book missed out on some even greater quality, such as faith or integrity.

√†The book is very idealistic and influential that readers can get so engrossed with it, dreaming about becoming ideal leaders in their own fields and jobs. But once they get back to reality, they might feel that they do¬†not have the capability to actually endure all that the inspirational figures in the book did. It can be both encouraging and discouraging, depending on the reader’s acceptability.

àIt does not answer specific problems a person might wish to consult books with, but instead it wants to improve your personality as a leader. It focuses on bigger ideas rather than on day-to-day and specific adversities at work or at home.


The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader is a great book to read especially when you are in need of guidance, direction, or just want to improve your leadership and people skills. This book does not focus on any particular age group which makes it really versatile. While reading the book, one will feel a great surge of motivation in wanting to change the world or society he lives in. This is actually a double edged sword as one would take the initiative and think that he alone can change anything. Yet once he faces the real world and encounters the cynicism of people, he is back to reality and sadly to his old self. While reading this book, it is important not to despair if you are not able to achieve your goals. Change is a process and it starts from within. You must first build a solid foundation within you before moving out and influencing others that way when others do not respond the way you’d want them to, you won’t be dejected and lose hope easily.

The book was written with the intent of forming leaders not only to help themselves but more importantly for them to reach out to others and make them leaders as well. In a sense, the book is self-less as it teaches one to reach his fullest potential and help others reach theirs as well. Power and greed are not given importance in this book. Some leadership books emphasize the need for leaders to have power and money by any means necessary.


By Blaine Lee


Dr. Blaine Lee is a founding vice president of Covey Leadership Center, one of the world’s premier leadership development authorities. Covey Leadership Center’s client portfolio includes eighty-two of the Fortune 100 companies, and more than two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as thousands of small and mid-sized companies, government entities, educational institutions, communities, families, and millions of individual consumers.

Blaine has created and delivered custom leadership development programs for many world-class organizations, including: Proctor & Gamble/ U.S. West, Intel, IBM, Pillsbury, General Motors, Conoco, Blue Cross/ Blue Shield, Andersen Consulting, Arthur Andersen, NASA, Occidental Petroleum, MCI, Mass Mutual, Kimberly Clark, Prudential, Nabisco, Xerox, and many others.

Blaine has also been a contributing author to books by Stephen R. Covey and Norman Vincent Peale, and has written college texts on teaching and organizational behavior. His teaching takes him over a third of a million miles annually. His ability to deal perceptively with difficult organizational and people problems has made him a unique advisor to senior executives in many kinds of organizations. A trainer’s trainee, he is called a “Life-Coach” by leaders who claim he helps them to do with their liveswhat athletic coaches can do with their muscles.

Blaine has been studying, teaching, and coaching successful men and women for more than twenty-five years. He has been on the faculty of four colleges and universities and has twice been recognized as one of the Outstanding Young Men of America. He was the director of the Instructional Systems Development for the entire Air Force as a young captain. He cofounded and was Educational Director for two professional private residential schools for troubled teenagers. He created the National Speakers School, has mentored several past presidents of the National Speakers Association, and is listed in International Leaders in Achievement and Who’s Who in America.

Blaine, and his sweetheart, Shawny, live in a country home in the Rocky Mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah, where he relishes his time as a deliberate dad. He received his masters degree in instructional psychology from Brigham Young University in Utah and his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.


Blaine Lee’s book on “The Principle Power” is based on nine (9) positive premises as stated by the author himself. These are:

1.[The reader] already understand much about power.

2.Power and influence can be acquired and developed.

3.[The reader] choose to be powerless or powerful everyday.

4.Powerlessness and each of the three paths to power have different foundations.

5.[The reader] may attempt to influence others with honor, with fairness, with feat, or [the reader] may sometimes doubt their ability to influence at all

6.The result with each approach is absolutely predictable.

7.Whatever [the reader’s] official title or position is a result of what they are, as well as what they do.

8.[The reader] can change.

9.[The reader] can make a difference, and the world needs what they can do.



You refers to the individual which is the basic foundation of a society and of an organization. An individual belonging in an organization is important because each and every action, thoughts and feelings he/she has towards the organization where he/she belongs would create an impact and influence the other members thus, affecting the whole organization.


Each individual are presented with several of choices. These choices vary from choosing what clothes to wear, what food to eat, etc. Life is full of choices that sometimes it makes living – complicated. Ironically, however complex the choices are, we still have to select one. On the other hand, the choices that we have to make are not as easy as these. We have to make more serious choices and one of this is whether we want to be powerful or powerless.


An individual is considered powerless when our self-esteem and our effectiveness in dealing with others are eroded. When an individual feels that he/she is powerless, he/she would not be effective in his work. He/she would tend to suppress his/her ideas, be less productive and worse, he/she would tend to betray his/her capabilities. He/she believes that he/she is not good enough. We feel powerless when we feel we have to accept things especially when we have the mentality that we could not control them. Another cause of feeling powerless is the “busy-ness” of life. We feel that the fast phase of life makes it impossible for us to step back and look at what is really going on. Therefore, we tend to just go on with the routines of life. We also become powerless when we accept what life can offer instead of making our own decisions. We tend to depend on others for solutions to our problems rather then try to figure out for ourselves.

Initially, we start out as being powerful. In a sense, we control our lives. As a child, we often feel free to do whatever we want. Our imagination flows from the Pacific Ocean towards the Atlantic Ocean. However, this sense of having the power is slowly being washed away, when adults in our lives squelched the things we do. We often believe that somebody else is powerful regardless of our situation. But as we grow older, we get more doubtful of ourselves and we start to lose the feelings of power. Unexpected response which can result to a disappointment can grow into discouragement. This results to a state where we no longer value ourselves and then we may sink into the depths of depression. Sometimes, when the sense of powerlessness is so grave, we sometimes come to a climax and decide to take our life.

Another culprit that steals our sense of power is doubt. This tends to make us be faithless and be without hope or belief. Our doubt which is also solidified by misinterpreted experiences often betrays us. It makes us believe that we are powerless. Feeling powerless is also a result when we feel helpless. This is when we perceive that there is nothing more we could do since whatever we do would result to failure.


Being powerless does not have to be to a disadvantage because some powerless people hold great power. The power that the powerless elicit is not as evident as the powerful ones but they tend to bring out the best from the people around them. What we should all remember is that just by existing, we already make a difference. We might not know it but every little thing we do has an effect to others. The effect could be as great as inspiring someone else to achieve worthwhile things in his/her life. We should not feel discourage when others can do something and we do not because there are other things that we can do and they can not.

It is our choice whether we want to be powerful or powerless. Probably, most of us would want to be powerful. And with this, we are presented with another set of choices and these are the kind of power we want to achieve.

Coercive Power

Coercive power relies on the premise of control and uses fear as its motivational instrument. Force is necessary especially to ensure safety and disaster prevention. This is when a situation calls for one to exert force to convince another individual to follow orders. There are other times when coercive power is used because it assures quick solution. This is when we force someone to do what we want, whether they like it or not, because of the lack of time. However, the first purpose for coercive force is not often visible. What is more obvious is the use of force for those who do not want to submit to our wishes. However, it is believed that we use coercive force when fear exists within us. Usually, people comply to our wishes as long as we are present but behind our back, they often think of getting back at us. According to Dick Grote:

“The quickest and simplest way to reduce the frequency of an undesired behavior is to apply some form of punishing consequence. But the reduction in the frequency of misbehavior is the short-term consequence. The use of punishment produces side effects and long term-consequences – anger, apathy, resentment, frustration- that end up being far more costly than whatever the original misbehavior have been.”

The coercive leader must be all-seeing, because his eyes alone are committed to success. The responsibility to accomplish is his alone. Another problem that the employer or manager can face is the uncontrollability of their emotions. On the other hand, employees tend to associate the punishment to the punisher therefore creating a negative perception about the leader.

Utility Power

This type of power is based on the potential for exchange. It is said to be a fair trade because everyone benefits from the transaction. An individual practicing the power of utility is said to be independent. There are several types of utility power. The first type is the reward power. This is when the leader can reward others if they do what he/she wants. Others often expect something like you, such as praise, recognition, or income. On the other hand, positional power states that our position allows us to demand more from others. Expert power is when we know or we have the special skill, expertise, or knowledge and that we can use this to help others. A lot of us, especially females, have what we call charisma power. This is when we become appealing to others. Opportunity power is when a situation allows us to present our skills to help others. Resource power is when we have the access key to resources that are needed by others. Instrumental power happens when we have the capability to do things that others can not. Appraisal power is when we give informative feedback about the quality of an effort of performance. And lastly, as long as we maintain a certain relationship, we still have the relation power.

However, utility power is not that permanent. It ends when we could not provide the goods that they are willing to trade. Then it comes to a point when the “barter” is not as fair as how it was before. Conflicts are then created then tensions strengthen. Therefore utility power is not the ultimate solution to elicit effective powerfulness.

Principle-centered Power

According to the power principle, honor is power. To honor is to respect, while honor is uprightness or living with the moral principles. Principle-centered power raises possibilities and creates new options and opportunities, greater than any individual can produce. It also leads to prolonged influence that is rooted in our values. The book clearly illustrates this point by providing examples of normal, everyday people who left lasting impressions on others, leaving significant differences in their lives.

Although principle-centered power is a distinguished way to influence people, there are also obstacles to hinder its effectiveness. One is that we might embellish our lives with the wrong (not necessarily bad) things, and the other one is that we might lose sight of our goals because of the acclaim we receive from external forces. The book also cautions us of things that would make us drop this power. Masking mistakes, feeling superior than others,¬†focusing on ones personal ambitions, and forcing others to do what an individual wants tend to shake this power out of one’s grasp. The honor given to a person by others could dissipate in a flash, and in turn lose his influence on them.

Principle-centered power, as a result of honor, results in several things: sustained power, proactive behavior, self-control, and building interdependence. Sustained power is parallel to saying that one has left a legacy, and that one’s influence lasts through generations. Proactivity means making choices based on what matters most. Self-control is shunning external forces in making decisions according to one’s principles. As the book quotes: “Giving up what doesn’t matter as much, for what matters more. I give myself up to it, because it is the right thing to do.” In contrast to dependence where one’s needs are dealt by others, interdependence is doing things and providing things together.

Principle-centered power is sourced on ten basic principles of power: persuasion, patience, gentleness, teachability, acceptance, kindness, knowledge, discipline, consistency, integrity.

Persuasion is not coercion. It is assumed that an individual has to win someone over, and in doing this, assumes that all the why’s are answered. Connecting one’s motive with one’s method is at all times beneficial. Helping others understand what you want to happen makes it easier for everybody. Patience is required in both the process of influencing others and in the person influencing. As Marie Curie would put it, “If it takes a hundred years it will be a pity, but I will not cease to work for it as long as I live.” Furthermore, the book says that we can afford to be patient when we are building another person, nurturing a relationship, or attempting to influence those we care about. Gentleness dictates the absence of harshness especially when dealing with people who are/were subjected to sensitive experiences and situations. Quoting from one of the author’s graduate advisers, “Blaine, when you deal with the souls of men, take off your shoes. You walk on sacred ground.” The aptitude for gentleness is a true measure of strength. There is nothing as strong as gentleness, and there is nothing as¬†gentle as real strength.

Teachability requires humility and the recognition that one does not know. Recognition of one’s lack of answers and insights opens that person to a lot more viewpoints, judgments, and experiences that others may bring. If one wishes to influence others, he must subject himself to the influence of others. Acceptance is said to be unconditional when there are no strings attached, which means that there are no conditions of other people’s approval of an individual. It is also said that the need to love is of more substance than the need to be loved. Kindness is said to be caring, sensitive, and thoughtful. It acts through consideration, politeness, graciousness, and genuine interest. Truthfully speaking, everyone wants to be treated kindly. Knowledge of the person one wants to influence is essential. In my own words, “What you know will make you win.” Everyone is different from one another, and correct knowledge of a specific person will give precious detail on how that person should be dealt with. The better we know them, the better we can serve and influence them.

Discipline, in this context, is not punishment. It is the acknowledgement of the mistakes of others, and doing something to constructively correct them. Doing what is necessary in order to straighten things up earns us honor, and this is what we all want here. Consistency occurs when one’s thought and action rise from a set of beliefs and values that are nested at a person’s being. Consistency ensures that one’s influence remains as situations change. Being consistent also gains a person honor. Finally, integrity states that every influencing factor in us is congruent to one another. Coherent actions, thoughts, and speech is vital in building one’s competence among others. The book gives a perfect example in Gandhi, who lived his life in accord to his thoughts, which he spoke off unceasingly.

Results of living out power principles are as follows: being more careful of what one asks of others, being more confident when asking anything of others, greatly influencing others, understanding principle-centered power, influence, and leadership, continuing influence on others without coercion, peace of mind, becoming wiser and an effective leader.

Once a person has achieved this power by being honorable, he could opt to increase this power by being more honorable. But before this could happen, he or she should know and understand the factors that affect the power principle.

There are five basic factors that affect the power principle: vision, risk, capacity, history, credibility.

“You’ve got to pick a spot in the distance and keep your eye on it the whole time. It’ll pull you straight in the direction you want to go.” There are things people look for, that are willing to die for, and are willing to live for. This is their vision. In their opinions, these things are worth pursuing. It states that we have to devise a new way of seeing by shunning the old ones. It gives a fitting example by quoting an excerpt from the play Joan of Lorraine. “But to surrender what you are, and live without belief—that’s more terrible than dying—more terrible than dying young.” There are four central sources for captivating visions: crisis, information, serendipity, and intuition.

Crisis mobilizes and clarifies in a manner that it shifts a person’s paradigms that are catalyzed by problems and difficulties. Information immersion illuminates as a person continues a profound process of examination by immersing themselves in what there is to know and learn. Serendipity provides happy surprises. Considering new possibilities, aspiring leaders must be open to the unexpected. Sometimes it is better this way. Intuition ignites the mind as the best choices come from that fuzzy feeling behind one’s neck. Clarifying and cultivating one’s vision is truly necessary if one wants to gain his or her capacity to influence others with honor.

“Many have the ability to look at events and trends and describe a future state. However, few are willing to take the risks of acting on that vision unless the current state is bad. The question asked here is how far are we willing to go in our pursuit of happiness and contentment. This pursuit may¬†require us to take risks; to move out of our comfort zones and away from the monotony of mediocrity. This requires courage. Will we be able to fly once we come over the ledge? Taking risks helps a person grow from dependence to interdependence and to build trust others. Being dependent entails great risks, and thus going into independence lessens these risks. Taking risks makes us trust the unexpected split-second that lies ahead of us. Others are more likely to admire the courage we elucidate, and therefore we gain power over them, and through them.

Capacity is simple. It suggests that if a specific task or goal is so importantly desired, would a person have the ability to do what is needed?

Past events are definitely credit to a person who has people in his grasp to influence. How many times we have done for someone else is basis enough for a mutual partnership, and eventually, all past, present, and future events will come naturally “tax free”. Credibility stems from the coherence in a person’s words and actions. These mirror that person’s thoughts and emotions as also coherent. It is when hope and trust are created. Making commitments to others build expectations of the future, which will eventually create hope. Once these expectations are understood, trust is formed. The trust created here is a relative, vibrant factor that does not belong to a specific group or person.


Blaine Lee, presented the topics using a framework illustrated above. The conceptual framework made it easier for readers, like us (students), to understand what Principle-centered power is all about. He used easy to understand terms thus, making the book a light material to read. He was also able to empathize with the readers by providing real life situations as examples, hence, making the readers more aware on how to apply certain concepts presented. Like in the earlier chapters, he discussed about the different types of leaders, by stating what one does and what the other does, the reader can instantly reflect on what kind of leader he/she is.

This book is also an interesting self-discovery material. Most of us had misconceptions about leaders but Blaine Lee, clearly explained everything that there is to know about being a leader or being powerful. He was able to make something powerful into something less powerful in a sense, we are able to attain it or understand it.


Although Blaine Lee was able to explain what powerful really is and how to enhance and be a “better” powerful person, he was not able to dwell longer on the concept of powerless. It was not clear on how a powerless person can attain power. Because of this, it may seem to some readers that he thinks that attaining power is easy, and that the book is a little bit idealistic. Although what he must really want to say is that power can only be possessed by people who work for it. Nothing is guaranteed when you choose principle and honor over coercion and force, except good results. In Chapter 15, he says, principle-centered power builds over a lifetime of deliberate living.


The second to the last chapter of the book was dedicated to the reader. Although it was not clear on the first and later part of the book as to how a “powerless” person achieve power, chapter 14, provided some ideas and tips. He provides us with an optimistic advice that we can still change. It is not yet too late or too hard or too easy. His method is to provide us with a guidebook wherein we are encouraged, and advised while admitting that changing is difficult but nevertheless possible.

The process of change starts with an awakening. We feel that there is a disturbance in the status quo and we realize that the pain of staying the same should be more than the unknown pain of change. We should be determined to change so as to be able to endure the pain that it would cost. We should keep our motivation up by reflecting and seeing the true value of good change.

Then, we should reshape our thinking and our behavior. We should be aware that there are alternatives likewise; there are different ways of living. If the change that we are about to go through does not suit our lifestyle, we should not be fearful about trying out the alternatives that are available. On the other hand, we should not hesitate to ask for help from others. It is through helping hands that great things are achieved. Consequently, we should never forget that we are not being forced to change. Life is full of choices and we have the freedom to choose whatever we want. When we are pretty sure which, among the choices, we are going to choose, we should now make a firm decision and sprinkle it with lots of faith.

It is possible that there would be people who would not understand. We should be ready for this type of people. We should be prepared to take in their criticisms and comments and be inspired by their praises. At the end of the day, after reading this book, we can say that we can change anything and everything. That’s what life is all about – we, having the power over life.


Both theories are bent on changing leaders in position or in power to change for greater effectivity in work. They are bent on making leaders inspirational figures for followers or employees to respect, follow and imitate in terms of motivation and commitment. Both books accept that change is difficult to inculcate in one’s life especially if one has already been used to certain behaviour (e.g. pride, shyness, low self-esteem). They simply encourage readers to take steps towards being better leaders one day at a time. Each day is a time to make that decision to be committed, to be generous, to be confident, or to be powerful. It is only the leaders’ determination to reach their potentials as effective, motivating and inspiring leaders, that they can become leaders people will want to follow.

Both theories actually refined the trait theory. John Maxwell’s book concentrates on twenty-one qualities, such as charisma, security and competence, while Blaine Lee’s book concentrates on traits such as vision, risk, and credibility. The books claim that by honing these respective¬†traits in the person of a leader, that leader can bring about change in his/her employees’ lives, in the path of the company, in relations within his/her community, or even in the politics or economy of his/her country.

Both Maxwell and Lee wanted to change the definition of being a leader, of being a person in power. They redefined traits and made them practical and ethical. Maxwell wrought out things he had learned from his evangelization while Lee wrote on his book lessons he had learned when he worked with people with power in their different organizations. Because of this, however, we can conclude that both books have different approaches to their readers. Maxwell approaches his readers with generalized concepts about the qualities while giving various examples in different scenarios. Meanwhile, Lee focused more on organizational processes, functions and systems. Students can easily appreciate both Maxwell’s and Lee’s book since both used concepts which were really easy to understand, Maxwell’s 21 traits and Lee’s principle-centered power, which really focused on honor. Maxwell also gives his readers various suggestions on where to start changing, such as listing things the readers might want to change about themselves, while Lee has given his readers the insights on how a leader should be.

Despite the two books’ differences in approach and style, both have significant key points people who strive to be effective in the roles they play in work, family or organizations can appreciate and use in their daily lives. Both can definitely be combined in a manager’s or even supervisor’s drive to self-improvement and self-empowerment. They provide guidebooks — complete both with motivation and instruction with the desire to make a difference in the world by making a difference with the way it is led.


Maxwell, John C. 1999. The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. Tennessee:

Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Lee, Blaine. 1998. The Power Principle: Influence With Honor. Fireside.

AnnOnline. 2003. “Biography: Maxwell” Home page on-line . Available from


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