John C. Maxwell on Leadership Challenges 2020


In an exclusive conversation with SightsIn Plus, we are privileged to have John C. Maxwell, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach, and speaker who has sold more than 30 million books has been identified as the #1 leader in business by the American Management Association® and the world’s most influential leadership expert by Business Insider andInc.magazine.

Dr. Maxwell has also received the Horatio Alger Award, as well as the Mother Teresa Prize for Global Peace and Leadership from the Luminary Leadership Network. His organizations—The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, EQUIP, and the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation—have trained millions of leaders from every nation in the world.

For more information visit And if you want extra help, you can always hire the John Maxwell Company to come in and help train your team! To learn more about our training opportunities please visit –

Q- You are one of the great Leadership coaches and bestselling authors in the world, have written many books, over 100 and selling 30+ million copies, if I’m not wrong, focusing on leadership. And your latest book is “How to Lead When Your Boss Can’t (or Won’t) today.” Tell us about this book?

One of the most common questions I hear from people is, “How can I make a difference in my company when I’m not the leader?” I can’t tell you how often I hear that when I’m speaking to an audience. How to Lead When Your Boss Can’t (Or Won’t) seeks to answer that question. It takes some of the material on leading up from my book, The 360-Degree Leader and presents it in a way that’s easy to digest.

Q- What can you tell us about your upcoming books?

My next book is The Leader’s Greatest Return: Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders, which releases in January 2020. I’m excited about this book because it captures all of my best teachings on how to develop more and better leaders, which is the key to sustainable success for any organization. Success happens when a business creates a culture that can move beyond positional leadership—what I call Level 1 in my 5 Levels of Leadership—and develop leaders who have solid relationships (Level 2), produce outstanding results (Level 3), and reproduce other leaders (Level 4).

Q- Has leadership evolved over the years, and how would you define great leadership?

Leadership is and always will be influence—the ability to add value to people and influence them toward a common goal. I introduced that idea in my book, Developing the Leader Within You, over 20 years ago; it’s as relevant today as it was when I first taught it and will be for the next 20 years. That’s the same book where I first taught the 5 Levels of Leadership, and my company still uses that model to help transform the leadership culture in companies all over the world. While new generations will always add their insights and ideas to the conversation, I would say that the principles of leadership are unchanged, but the awareness around leadership has shifted. Which is why my team and I are still working so hard to stay in the conversation and lead it.

Q- Due to technological advancement, economic uncertainties, and demographic changes, what do you see as the biggest leadership challenges organizations will face in 2020?

I’d say that there are big leadership opportunities ahead in 2020—starting with the opportunity to invest even more in people. While technology is a wonderful tool, people are and will always be any organization’s greatest asset, so my team and I are continually encouraging leaders across all sectors to add value to their people on a personal and professional level.

Another opportunity for leaders is to work across generations. There are now five generations in the workforce at the same time, and while there are challenges to multi-generational teams, there are far more benefits to be gained. Leaders need to take advantage of the diversity of experiences, perspectives, and insights that each generation brings to the table.

Of course, with multiple generations on our teams, that means there are a number of younger leaders who are getting the chance to lead for the first time. That reality is why I’m so excited for The Leader’s Greatest Return to come out—we have a tremendous opportunity to build a leadership culture that reproduces leaders and continues to do so for decades to come!

Q- According to recent surveys, employee engagement is already low; much of today’s workforce is restless and disengaged. What do you see as the reasons and how do leaders overcome employee engagement challenges?

One of our Corporate Trainers shared a Gallup poll with me that showed the engagement rate was only34%![1] I think you could point to any number of reasons for such a low number but one thing I’ve learned over my career that still holds true is that people join companies but quit people. That means that we as leaders need to connect with our people, get on the same page, and start speaking the same language when it comes to leading people. When you connect with people, you increase their engagement level; you move from a Level 1 leader to a Level 2 and begin to increase their production for the team through what we call discretionary effort. I could go on, but that’s one of the benefits of the 5 Levels of Leadership—it establishes a common vocabulary for the organization and shows a clear pathway for development and growth.

Q- In the next 10 years, the workforce will be comprised almost entirely of millennials, and currently, there is a significant gap between what the millennial workforce needs and what the workplace offers. How do you see this challenge for business leaders?

Like I said earlier, multiple generations in the workforce present a great opportunity for leadership, not only in developing new leaders but in making our organizations healthy for the coming generations. Some of the organizations that we currently partner with have that cross-generation teams, and we’ve learned some interesting things from their experience:

Younger workers want to be invested into—both in terms of career growth and in terms of compensation. In fact, 52% of Millennial workers say that career progression is the most attractive trait they’re looking for in an employer, compared to 44% who say that competitive wages are most attractive.

And staying with the Millennials, recent surveys reveal that the top 3 benefits they are looking for and value in organizations are:

  • Training & Development
  • Flexible Hours
  • Cash Bonuses, in that order.

Here’s the bottom line: if we want to attract and retain younger workers, we need to make it a priority to develop them as leaders!

Q- What is Spiritual leadership? And how does the spiritual Leadership Model work for organizations?

I think that spiritual leadership is at heart servant leadership. It’s valuing people, seeing value in people, and adding value to people. For the last couple of years now, I’ve kept the word “father” as my word for the year. It reminds me that my role as a leader now is to serve the people around me and pour into them. As a father, I’m committed to bless and empower people; unconditionally love them; rejoice in their success, and provide wise counsel. I think those four things are at the heart of servant leadership, and they are my priorities at this stage in my leadership.

Q- What is the future of the workplace in 2020 and how do you see the scope of Spiritual Leadership in developing great corporate culture?

The future of the workplace will always be in people. Invest in your people, serve them well, develop them, and give them a pathway for growth, and you’ll never regret the investment. Remember that every person who comes to you is asking three things: Do you care for me? Can I trust you? Can you help me? When leaders can provide affirmative answers to each of those questions, a great corporate culture will follow.

Q-We are in the last quarter of 2019, what is your advice to HR leaders to get their best out of 2020?

I recently heard a great quote from researcher Marcus Buckingham: “Change follows the focus of your attention.” I’ve taught for years that what you make a priority is where you’ll see the greatest return for your time, and that’s especially true with people. If HR leaders want to get the best from their people in 2020, it begins by doing what’s best for their people in 2020. Be intentional about developing culture, investing in leaders, and being the first to take action.

 Thank you, John!



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