A Book Review by Dr. Gayle Woods
How can a person walk into a room of strangers and with the strength of his presence cause heads to turn in his direction? In a circle of conversation, why does the group seem compelled to address their remarks in the direction of one individual rather than to everybody in the group? Why do some people seem to move within the sphere of an aura of greatness?
These gifted people are often identified as “people persons”. In his book, “Be a People Person”, John C. Maxwell, the “People Person”, suggests that this is not an innate ability but rather a quality than most leaders can cultivate. Fred Smith, founder of FedEx says, “This book is an opportunity to see in distilled form what John Maxwell has been learning and using successfully throughout a productive life.
Maxwell opens this discussion by looking at qualities in a person that are an attraction to others. He then tells how to feel comfortable with people and how to become a person that people will want to follow. As the author discusses the matter, he shows that the secret is found when we invest in the lives of other people. This may involve loving difficult people, and handling criticism from time to time. In each case, Maxwell gives suggestions so that the reader can be assured of success.
The book is structured well and the material is explained in such a way that the reader can easily understand. Many steps are given with the assurance that if they are followed the reader can achieve his goal of becoming a people person. Examples, sometimes humorous, make the book interesting. Each chapter ends with a section called “Put It To Work”. In this section, he outlines people principles discussed in the chapter and gives an assignment so the reader can put the principles into practice.
The person who desires to develop his ability to influence others in leadership will benefit from reading this book. It offers many suggestions and tips for improving relationship skills. The short discussion on accountability (p 88-89) multiplied the value of the book for me. The reader is encouraged to write out “five questions I hope no one ever asks me”. Then the reader is directed to “List four questions that will address your weaknesses” and then to seek someone who will help him be accountable in those areas of vulnerability. Finally, the reader is supposed to ask, “Have I lied about any of the previous four questions or have I intentionally left out anything?” This is but an example of the pungent advice that guides the reader in his quest to become a “people person”.
John C. Maxwell, Be a People Person – Effective Leadership Through Effective Relationships, (2004). Nexgen, (Cook Communication Ministries), Colorado Springs, CO. ISBN: 0-78144-906-5