In October 2019, I got an opportunity to attend the virtual Live2Lead Conference, hosted annually by the world-renowned leadership coach, John C. Maxwell. From the very inspiring and transformative talks, here are some perspectives from five leadership experts that spoke at the event which I hope will transform your view and approach to leadership, making you a better leader to yourself and your teams.

JOHN MAXWELL: The Leader’s Greatest Return

  • The greatest way to multiply your influence is by developing other leaders. It’s much more challenging than developing yourself as a leader but greatly rewarding
  • If you look back at what you did 10-15 years ago and still get excited about it then your not growing
  • When you grow your leaders you grow your organisation/team
  • The law of the lid: How well you lead determines how well you succeed
  • People overvalue their dream but undervalue their teams. Your team determines whether or not you reach your dream
  • Leaders’ greatest return is developing a leadership culture – where leaders are intentionally and routinely developed
  • Chapter 1: Identifying the leaders – find them to develop them. Never climb the mountain alone, go with your team. When you know what you want to accomplish then you can find the people
  • Chapter 2: Attracting Leaders – invite them to the leadership table. The leadership table is an environment in which you have to expose people to leadership. It’s a conscious effort to allow people in leadership discussions and interactions to see how leadership works. Bring people to have some time with you
  • Chapter 3: Understanding Leaders – Connect with them before you lead them. Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. Leaders value people and have the potential to add value to other people. You bring greatness by going out for the best in people, not the worst. Ask questions not give directions. If you’re a directional leader half the time you’re leading by assumption.
  • Chapter 4: Motivating Leaders – encouraging them to give their best.

B – Believe in them
E – Encourage them (emotional leadership)
S – Show them (vision leadership)
T – Train them (practical leadership)

What motivates people?

  • Purpose – reason
  • Autonomy – independence
  • Relationship – connection
  • Progress – growth
  • Mastery – skill
  • Money – security
  • Recognition –
  • When you stop loving the people you stop leading the people – John Maxwell
  • How Successful People Think
  • The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is how they think
  • Sustained thinking beats smart thinking
  • Shared thinking breads great ideas
  • All great ideas are birthed out of several good ideas
  • Authenticity – real people, real experiences (success can sometimes separate you from people). Strive for friends, not fans
  • The walk between the lines – failures and successes.
    • Nothing is amazing about you – just your gifts; your gifts are greater than you.
    • When things are going well, we’re often not as good as we think we are. It’s the loss that keeps us real and teaches us character.
    • Become bigger on the inside than on the outside and you’ll do well. When you’re bigger on the outside than on the inside, it’s only a matter of time before it comes crumbling down
    • People don’t want good leaders, they want authentic leaders
  • Action – get in the game. Just do it – no one is ever good the first time. Good intentions are worthless unless they lead to good actions.
  • Forget yourself so that you can give yourself to people.
  • Generosity – I don’t consider the success of my days by the harvest I reap but by the seeds I sow.
  • Have a motivational word of the year (meaning of the word, role/goals of the word)
  • To develop leadership, identify actions to help you step up – ACT. What to Apply, Change or Teach

CHRIS HOGAN: Creating an Environment of Teamwork

  • People matter – you have a bigger obligation than just doing work as a leader. You carry people’s dreams – it’s not about you but them
  • Leadership is not a title – it’s your heart. A good leader will help you do your work better, a great leader will change your life.
  • Servant leadership: Your words are power – they can touch a heart or hurt a dream. Understand the obligation that comes with leadership. What do I do to help my team get better? Work “with” and not work “for”. Show concern about your team and find time to listen – don’t just pass them by.
  • 3 questions a leader should ask his team at least weekly:
    • How are you?
    • What are you working on?
    • How can I help?
  • Take time to connect. “Life’s most urgent question is what are you doing for others” – Martin Luther King
  • Leadership is not a concept, it’s a lifestyle. Leader means to go first
  • Servant leadership increases trust and builds loyalty
  • Servant leadership creates unity (we mentality). Break the cycle of bad leadership by breaking the cycle of being a human leader. Leaders don’t get surprised by obstacles, they expect them. Leaders run to their people, not from them – create an environment that makes your team want to work with you. Stay connected – think like a scientist. Don’t be so serious that you can’t have fun with your team
  • A little bit of effort can make a big impact – keep polishing your team and make them better at their lives not just their jobs. Push them – never let them get comfortable. Do someone proud
  • Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth – and How You Can Too (new book released in January 2019)

ANGELA AHRENDTS: Leadership Lessons Learnt

  • Take some time off to focus on things that matter
  • As leaders, we need to be passionate about people
  • When you build a value-based team it builds a culture that unlocks intuition and creativity to allow every member to shine
  • If you have to move, you’ve got to move fast. Things change and as a leader, you must shift your approaches to leading your team
  • Listen to people before putting across a strategy or communication. Turn the team upside down and inside out and give everyone a voice.
  • Building leadership in women requires us to encourage our women to be better daughters, wives, parents, and friends and provide opportunities for them to be part of whatever we do at home, school, work and society
  • Just focus on doing a great job, every day
  • Leadership is living a life of mentorship through the power of our performance. Each day people are listening to what we say and watching what we do.
  • Enriching the life of your team is equally important as enriching the lives of those they serve.
  • Big isn’t good unless big does good. Leadership isn’t good unless leadership does well.
  • Leaders create experiences that encourage connections
  • You’ll never be happy unless you learn to give 60 and take 40 – in everything!
  • Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care
  • I will know I have done a good job when I look at a photo and look for myself last

RACHEL HOLLIS: Leadership Lessons

  • When you move your body you move your mind
  • A leader never has two good days in a row – you need to anticipate it and plan accordingly
  • Being a leader is hard. Can you keep showing up even after bad days because you’re pursuing something greater than yourself?
  • Digital leadership content – your story has value and could be the answer to a problem someone is struggling with right now. Just be authentic.
  • Leaders don’t lead each one of their team members the same. Treat them for who they are, and what they are doing well and help them with what they’re not good at
  • Leaders show up, whether you have one, ten or 10 million on your team. Leadership is not about you. Give people the tools to change their lives
  • Becoming a Better Leader
    • Self-awareness – what’s going on? What don’t you have that you need? What don’t you know? – Have the courage to admit what you don’t know. You’re the solution to the challenges. Leadership is not about being in the know all the time
    • To be a leader you have to think like a warrior
      • Expect challenges and failure (see them as lessons to grow)
      • Expect things to be tough
      • Can’t go to battle for others if you don’t go to battle for yourself. Take care of yourself first. You can do amazing things if you have the courage to take care of yourself
      • Tomorrow is not a guarantee. If today is your last day would you be proud of what you’ve done?

MARCUS BUCKINGHAM: Nine Lies About Work – A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to a Real World

  • Use a free-thinking research approach to understanding leadership (without reliance on existing theories)
  • Excellence has its pattern. You don’t understand success by learning about failure and inverting it
  • Nine Lies about Work (Book) (
    • People care about the company they work for
    • The best plan wins
    • The best companies cascade the goals
    • The best people are well-rounded
    • People need feedback
    • People can reliably rate other people
    • People have potential
    • Work/life balance matters most
    • Leadership is a thing (Leaders are things)
  • Everyone has an opportunity to grow, differently
  • Leaders should not strive for balance. It’s static while life is in constant motion
  • We are more fearful of our weaknesses than we are proud of our successes
  • If you want your team member to learn more you might want to look at where he learns best
  • Leadership is not a competitive sport – there are no grades or finish line
  • A leader is a strength finder, not a deficiency-finder
  • A leader believes in the uniqueness of each member of the team
  • Leaders are space-makers: they create a space and let the team fill it in. When you take away the space you take away the choice; when you take away the choice you take away growth; when you take away growth you take away love.

Bonus Tips

  • As leaders, we have a responsibility for our people, and our country. We have to be the hope – Johnson Mwakazi
  • You are never too young to lead, neither too old to learn – Anonymous
  • Leadership is about people who want to make difference in the community – Lillian Opiyo
  • The tragedy of the understanding of leadership in our times, especially in many countries in Africa, is that it has been considered by many to be synonymous with politics – in a way that politicians set the standards of leadership. While politicians are leaders in their own right, this misunderstanding only provides one incomplete view of leadership as a skill for personal, business and community engagement. – Nelson Opany
  • Leadership is not about position or wealth. Leadership is about finding solutions to real-life issues affecting society. It’s about inspiring people to do something not just for themselves but also for others. – Nelson Opany
  • Leadership is about creating an environment where people realize that they have a solution to the challenges they face. It’s about building other leaders  – Nelson Opany

Nelson Opany is a Communicator, Leader, Humanitarian, and a Scout.

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