Article Display
Email  |  My Account  |  Donate
In 1804, Lewis and Clark faced the daunting task of finding their way across the vast wilderness of the American continent to reach its Pacific Coast. Their 33-member expedition included some of the most experienced navigators, scouts, woodsmen, and hunters in the United States. Yet despite their collective talents, the explorers would have died of starvation or from disorientation if they had relied solely on their own ingenuity. They were simply overmatched by the challenges of surviving in such unfamiliar terrain.

Realizing the perils of their situation, Lewis and Clark established relationships with indigenous Native American communities along their route to the Pacific. These local groups provided the expedition with guidance, supplies, and invaluable information about the surrounding environment. Benefiting from their help, Lewis and Clark were able to successfully complete their journey.

Five Qualities of a Leadership Guide
Regardless of your level of natural talent, you will not reach your potential in life without the guidance of others. It’s hard to grow with no one else to follow but yourself. To raise your level of influence, you need to link up with mentors and coaches who can model effective leadership. How do you identify these guides? I’d suggest looking for leaders with the following qualities.

1. A Passion for Personal Growth
When searching for a mentor or leadership model, ask yourself: Is he/she purposefully pursuing personal growth? People committed to a life of learning always have something to share. In perpetually seeking to develop themselves, they come across lessons that can be passed on to others. What are the telltale signs that someone is dedicated to personal growth?
  1. They ask questions.
  2. They read books or study the experts in their field.
  3. They’re unafraid to experiment (and fail).
2. A Trustworthy Example
Teaching is easy, but modeling is difficult. Anyone can spout out theories, but only a select few can consistently apply knowledge to deliver results. Likewise, anyone can write out an impressive list of personal values, but rare is the person who embodies them day after day amid the pressures of leading an organization. As industrialist Andrew Carnegie remarked, “As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

3. Proven Experience
A Chinese proverb says, “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.” Like a deep well holds nourishing water, a leader with proven experience houses a wealth of wisdom. Questions are the buckets from which we draw upon the experiences of others. When I meet someone who has clearly demonstrated the ability to lead at a high level, I ask the following questions in order to learn from him/her:
  1. What are the great lessons you have learned?
  2. How has failure shaped your life?
  3. What are your strengths?
  4. What is your passion?
  5. Who do you know that I should know?
  6. What have you read that I should read?
  7. What have you done that I should do?
4. Friendship & Support
The best guides listen and learn before they lead. They care about results, but more fundamentally, they care about people. In sharing his remembrances of management expert Peter Drucker, author Jim Collins spoke not of his theories but of his humanity.
For me, Drucker’s most important lessons cannot be found in any text or lecture but in the complete example of his life. I made a personal pilgrimage to Claremont, California, in 1994 seeking wisdom from the greatest management thinker of our age, and I came away feeling that I’d met a compassionate and generous human being who, almost as a side benefit, was a prolific genius…Peter F. Drucker was driven not by the desire to say something but the desire to learn something from every student he met—and that is why he became one of the most influential teachers most of us have ever known.
Perhaps the best question you can ask yourself about a potential guide is: “do they genuinely care about me?”

5. Competence
Leaders make things better for others; they add value in their relationships. As a leader or guide, I desire to help people…
  1. Prioritize their life
  2. See their value
  3. Develop their potential
Great guides leave a trail of positive influence wherever they have been. Even after the departing an organization, their legacy remains.

This article is used by permission from Leadership Wired, Dr. John C. Maxwell's premiere leadership newsletter, available for free subscriptin at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

About Us

The online ministry of cfaith has been helping people discover faith, friends and freedom in the Word since 2000. Cfaith provides a unique and comprehensive collection of faith-building resources for the worldwide faith community.

At cfaith, you can strengthen your faith and deepen your understanding of the Word of God by digging into the vast collection of teaching articles, streaming audio and video messages, and daily devotionals. No other website offers such a unique and extensive collection of spiritual-growth resources aimed at helping you grow in your knowledge of the Word.




Support Us

Why support cfaith?

(All contributions are 100% tax deductible)


For every Internet search you make using
goodsearch, cfaith will receive one penny!

GS Logo 250x38

Contact Us

Business Hours:

Monday—Friday: 9 a.m.—5 p.m. CST
Saturday & Sunday: Closed


(763) 488-7800 or (800) 748-8107

Mailing Address:
9201 75th Avenue North
Brooklyn Park, MN 55428


Login Form

Please ignore the “Secret Key” field; it is not needed to log in to cfaith.

Login Change Article

You need to enable user registration from User Manager/Options in the backend of Joomla before this module will activate.