The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell

Synopsis of Content: 

Based largely on his own experiences as a leader in both nonprofit and for profit enterprises Maxwell sets out 26 “lessons” on how to be a better leader. He suggests that being an effective leader requires one to improve oneself and to lead oneself first. He provides anecdotes from his own experiences and quotations from other notable leaders to frame each lesson.

Some of these lessons are about how to be successful in one’s work. He counsels you to find your passion – an area of work you love to do – and then to pursue it with full commitment. He offers particular skills a good leader must develop including being a good listener, the need to “define reality” and steer others in accordance with that reality and to keep your focus on your primary goals.

There are chapters on time management, which he calls life management; how to develop others and how not to; how to learn from mistakes; the importance of continuous learning; how to distinguish oneself as an effective leader in tough times; how best to run a meeting; and many other such lessons.

Maxwell’s original profession was as a pastor and there is a preachiness to his writing. If you can get past that there is much of value in what he teaches.

What I found useful about this book:

The book goes deeply into the various aspects of leadership. It teaches what not to do as much as what to do. He uses real world examples to illustrate the principles he teaches. Being an effective leader is much about being an effective person. It is about improving one’s skills and understanding of others as well as understand oneself. He does a good job of balancing these things.

Readability/Writing Quality: 

The book is well written and edited. It is easy to read and is well organized.

Notes on Author:  

Maxwell is a pastor, speaker, coach and author. He was declared by Inc. magazine to be the most popular leadership expert in the world in 2014. He leads several organizations that teach leadership around the world.

Other Books by This Author:

Maxwell is a prolific writer. He has written over 40 books.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Your ability to become a better leader is based on how you respond to others and to circumstances.
  2. The first person we must examine is ourselves. If you do not look at yourself realistically you will never understand where your personal difficulties lie.
  3. Listen carefully to those you lead. Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell
Copyright holder: ©2008 John C. Maxwell
Publisher: Nelson Books

Book of the Month: August 2015

Buy the book here–


Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.