The Journal Gazette
Sunday, February 16, 2020 1:00 am

Maxwell, others share secrets of strong leaders

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Learn. Embrace. Teach.

Author and leadership coach John Maxwell says the more he knows, the more he realizes he has yet to learn. 

“I'm not even close to the finish line,” said Maxwell, who is in his early 70s.

If you're going to manage anyone, a national news correspondent suggests, you have to philosophically embrace them. You don't have to agree all the time, but those who report to you need to know you see them and appreciate what they bring to the table. 

Many people lack listening skills, said Adrienne Bankert, who reports for ABC News. You can give someone all the tools they need, but if they don't have confidence, they may lack identity and the comfort level they need when they're in a room to fully contribute.

And the best leaders share their knowledge and experiences – good or bad – as they help build talent teams.

The greatest leaders “want more for their people than they want from their people,” Maxwell said during a late January Facebook Live session with Bankert and four others. The event was one of several Maxwell is hosting, partly to promote his latest book, “The Leader's Greatest Return; Attracting, Developing and Multiplying Leaders.”

Others who joined Maxwell and Bankert were Dave Hollis, CEO of The Hollis Co.; Tom Golisano, founder and chairman of the board of Paychex; Gerard Adams of The Millennial Mentor, and Kimberly Weisula, editor-at-large at and moderator of the event.

Maxwell said one key concept in his latest book is that before you develop people you need to connect with them.

Bankert said many leaders think they're too busy to invest in their staff but should consider asking whether there's anything they can do for employees instead of the typical “How's it going?”

Weisula said that approach is not typical of how many leaders have been trained.

But Bankert said the future will require companies to be “very holistic” and that want employees to succeed in life, not just in the workplace. She is scheduled to release a book this year titled “Your Hidden Superpower: The Kindness That Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone.”

Without kindness, respect and related character traits, Bankert said people are prone to being “a flash in a pan instead of lightening in a bottle.”

Golisano said economic and job security remain important, along with the opportunity for growth. If those aren't provided, organizations will have problems, even though relationship connections may be valuable.

Leadership and growth, regardless of position, requires change.

One of the toughest conversations Hollis said he recently had with staff was based on what direction the business, whose services include coaching and personal growth initiatives, would be going years from now. Hollis said no one at the table, including him, had all the skills that would be required. That means people have to be “willing to step into spaces” they may be uncomfortable with. If not, it doesn't mean they can't work for the company – but they may not be able to lead there.

Adams said millennials want to be part of organizations that have heart, want to give back and have a mission that may transcend the routine work.

Golisano said it's important to balance the interests of clients, employees and shareholders.

In every company, Maxwell said, you need success and you need significance. Success is about self; significance is about others. The best he can do is lead by example.

“My greatest leadership challenge is leading me,” he said. “It's easier to teach than it is to do.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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