Shifting to Succeed: Review of John Maxwell’s Book, LEADERSHIFT

This past Sunday, May 17th, 2020, I preached a sermon detailing necessary shifts we must enact in our lives to experience peace, justice, and joy. You can go ahead and view that worship service and sermon at the following YouTube link,

In that sermon I mentioned a book I had been reading by John Maxwell titled “Leadershift”. In this blog you will find my notes and review of that book. John Maxwell introduces the concept of leadershifts like this;

“The key is to learn how to continually make leadershifts. What is a leadershift? It is an ability and willingness to make a leadership change that will positively enhance organizational and personal growth”. 

He goes on to quote popular motivation speaker, Malcolm Gladwell in noting, “That’s your responsibility as person , as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible, and if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then your not thinking”.

John Maxwell goes on to remind us that “Everyday has improvement opportunities” in which we should seek to: Learn something new. Try something different. Find something better. See something bigger. He also offers the following 7 points to help us live lives of opportunity;

1.) Continual learn, unlearn, and relearn

2.) Value yesterday but live in today

3.) Rely on speed, but thrive on timing

4.) See the big picture as the picture get’s bigger (“layered learning”)

5.) Live in today, but think about tomorrow (“advance attraction”)

6.) Move forward courageously in the midst of uncertainty

7.) Realise today’s best will not meet tomorrow’s challenge (“…interplay of dissatisfaction and satisfaction”).


Let’s take a look at the 11 necessary leadershifts John Maxwell put before us.

1.) THE FOCUS SHIFT: Soloist to Conductor

This shift involves moving “from me to we”. John Maxwell highlights that “Good leaders do what they can to put others in position to win” and should always “Be the first to give or add value to another person when you can”. Remember, “Sowing always precedes reaping”, therefore “maintain a seed-sowing mentality” and ask, each day, where you might add value.


Maxwell highlighted that “Goals helped me to do better. But growth helped me to become better”. Growth makes everything we experience advantageous. Maxwell also highlights that“…growth on the inside fuels growth on the outside” and  that “Growths highest reward is not what we get from it, but what we become by it”. A friend has recently mentioned ‘failing-forward’ which is emphasised by the following quote, “I am not afraid of failing as long as I am stretching and growing”.

3.) THE COST SHIFT: Perks to Price
We must remember the wisdom of Napoleon Hill wherein he has noted, “Strength and growth come through continuous struggle and effort”. Furthermore, the mentality of paying the price for what you desire through strength and growth is bolstered by the shared wisdom of Adinoram Judson who said, “There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success it because someone will succeed after”.


4.) THE RELATIONAL SHIFT: People Pleasing to Challenging People
In leading people we must continually be asking: Are people being productive? Are they finding fulfilment and satisfaction? Are they bringing intentionality and energy to everything they do? John Maxwell goes on to note that “Good leadership always challenges people to rise to the occasion, become their best, and achieve more”. He surely doesn’t pretend this is an easy task. In his effort to enhance of shifting in this area, he offers a “difficult convo examination’ (pictured in the graphic below) and a “tough convo- do it right- road map” (which is also shared below):



“Tough Convo” – “Do it right” – road map
“Are you aware that…”.
Gain their perspective – “Help me understand…”
Ask questions. “Am I hearing you correctly?”
Repeat back what you heard.
Allow them to respond.
Try to find common ground
Arrive at agreement of what’s best for both
If no agreement, agreed to meet again.
Seek growth
Maintain a positive relationship


5.) THE ABUNDANT SHIFT: Maintaining to Creating
I love that John Maxwell mentioned the “Experiment often” quote from and mentality of Pastor Mark Batterson. When we move from maintaining a system to creating opportunities for people to grow we must never cease trying new things. Or, as John Maxwell says it,  “Take it to the next level;”. He goes on to say, “Don’t ever get comfortable. Make the shift to abundance . Get out on the edge. Break new ground . Seize opportunity. Get creative”.


6.) THE REPRODUCTIVE SHIFT: Ladder Climbing to Ladder Building
Rather than making success about ladder climbing, a necessary shift we must all experience to see true success is making it about others being able to build their own ladders.
Ladder climbing – “How high can I go?”
Ladder building – “Can I help them build their own ladder?”


7.) THE COMMUNICATION SHIFT: Directing to Connecting
The simple advice John Maxwell shared in this regard was that you have to choose one or other other when it comes to leadership, “A sage on stage or a guide by their side”


8.) THE IMPROVEMENT SHIFT: Team uniformity to team diversity
John Maxwell noted that, “Our difference can make a positive difference”. He then detailed that; “Diverse teams fill in knowledge gaps”, “Diverse teams fill in perspective gaps”, and “Diverse teams fill in experience gaps”. He also made mention of the following book I look to get my hands on and read, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin


9.) THE INFLUENCE SHIFT: Positional Authority to Moral Authority
“Moral authority is the recognition of a person’s leadership influence based on who they are more than the position they hold”.

“Do your work with devotion to excellence and the will to follow through fill give you a positive reputation for competence”.

“If you do the right thing when you’re young, it mostly goes unnoticed and unrecognised. But if you do the right things and lead well over decades, it becomes recognized, and you all get more credit than you feel you deserve”.


10.) THE IMPACT SHIFT:  Trained Leaders to Transformative Leaders
John Maxwell challenged us to be and to create transformative leaders, those who have been transformed and have a heart to see others transformed. In highlight transformative potential John Maxwell highlighted the following quote by former president John F. Kennedy, “Everyone has a change the world speech in them”. John Maxwell explains that we all must be transformed, “As leaders, you and I have to be changed to bring change. We teach what we know, but we produce who we are”. He laments those who do not change by sharing a quote from British philosopher, James Allen, “Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound”. Transformative leaders are those who see things others do not see, say things others do not say, believe things others do not believe, feel things others do not feel, and do things others do not do.

11.) THE PASSION SHIFT: Career to Calling
I love the quote that John Maxwell says in that“Some wake up to an alarm. Some wake up to a calling”. He utilized 1 Corinthians 12:7 and the following quote by Parker Palmer to challenge each of us to find our calling, “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life tell me who I am”. I used to teach people to search out their burdens and inspirations to find their calling which corresponds to Aristotle’s advice, “When it is your calling, you won’t have ton chase it. You will be captivated by it”.


To conclude this review of necessary shifts to success, especially for those who call themselves leaders, I’d like to mention the following quote by Seth Godin, “Instead of wondering what your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from”. Prayerfully, these leadershifts will enable you to live in that eternally fulfilling and satisfying life and that as the Apostle Paul told his spiritual son, Timothy, may each of us endeavour to “… entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2)”.

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