Dan’s Business Book Review: Leading In Tough Times


I am not unique in saying that John Maxwell is one of my favorite business authors—there are about 34 million people who share that opinion.

Of all the Maxwell books I have read over the years, Leading in Tough Times is one of my favorites. This timely little book is focused on what a leader needs to do when things get tough. It’s almost an understatement to say that, right now, things are tougher than they have been in years. Is the pandemic over? Who knows? Certainly, the world is opening up again—though warily. In business, we are still feeling the aftershocks of the past two and a half (going on three) years.

But nevertheless, time and business wait for no one.

Let’s get right to it: If you are a leader at this time, or aspire to be one someday soon, you need to read this book. Leading in Tough Times is literally a handbook on both leadership and, more importantly, how to demonstrate leadership in challenging times.

First, Maxwell provides us with an overview of what a good leader is: Someone who not only takes on change but meets it head-on. A great leader has the skills and wherewithal to successfully take his people right through that change and out the other side.

Here is a bit of Maxwell advice, direct from the book:

  • Change what needs to be changed, not what is easy to change.
  • Let go of yesterday so you can move forward tomorrow.
  • Communicate your message with simplicity and power; help others see the path to the future.
  • Activate belief in people. Believe it yourself first, and then get your people to believe it as well.
  • Remove barriers for your people—and then get out of their way.
  • Lead with speed.

One of the most important traits in a leader, especially when we’re forced to adapt to difficult circumstances, is acting with tremendous confidence. If you believe in yourself and what you’re doing, then your people will as well; they will follow you anywhere you lead them.

One of the most important parts of the book is the chapter on communications, especially the section on listening, which is something we could all do more of.

Again from the author:

  • Listen to understand. This demonstrates that you value people and what they have to say.
  • Listening to understand is one of the best ways to influence people. If people know that you are listening to them, really listening to hear what they are saying, they will value you more and—better yet—will trust you more.
  • Listening to understand, of course, leads to learning. As Maxwell says, “One of the greatest gifts I can give a person is the gift of attention.”

Remember: Everyone needs to be made to feel that they have value. Recognizing the accomplishments of your people is the best way to make them an integral part of your team.

And finally, Maxwell advocates that in business, as in all things, leaders (and all people, for that matter) must follow the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Please pick up and read this book. At ten bucks, it’s money well spent. Read it, study it, and pass it on to the rest of your team, because (coincidentally), the things you need to be a great leader—values, passion, compassion, and decisiveness—are actually the same characteristics everyone needs to be a great person.

Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.

Leading in Tough Times: Overcome Even the Greatest Challenges with Courage and Confidence

Author: John Maxwell

Copyright: 2021, Hachette Book Group

Pages: 135

Price: $10