Sunday, March 15, 2020

Book Review: "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player" by John C. Maxwell

Book Review: The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player by John C. Maxwell

    It is no secret that Mr. John C. Maxwell is one of my favorite leadership authors.  I have previous reviews on other books that I have read that are authored by him.  I intend to read many more and review each.  This time around I chose to read “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”.  I began reading this book when I came across a four-part collection by John C. Maxwell and crawled through this one.

    I chose to read “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player” mainly because I had set out on a journey to learn as much as I could about being a team builder.  One of my earlier mentors took pride in calling himself a team-builder and I intended to follow in his footsteps.  I believe that team building, and leadership go hand and hand.  I recognize John C. Maxwell for recognizing and capitalizing on this, as well as being a great teacher of the inherent connectivity.

The Layout

    John C. Maxwell attacks the layout of this work in a way that makes me happy.  This book is formatted specifically for the reader that wants to complete a book in less than a month while reading a short chapter each day.  The introduction is a few chapters long followed by seventeen straight forward qualities that get right to the point and do not contain much fluff. 

    In the meat of the text, where Mr. Maxwell is visiting and explain each of the qualities of a team player one by one, one per chapter, he sub-formats the book in a very pleasing patterned way.  You will find a brief story that feels like an exciting history lesson (oxymoron?), all of which are well chosen and well explained, followed by a series of formatted writing on the quality following that story.  I am really intrigued by how the pattern respects itself and follows suit in every chapter, which really pleases my inner obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Formatting the Chapters

    The first of the subheadings is “Fleshing it Out”.  During this section John further explains the quality in discussion and then follows that explanation with clear steps on how to progress towards mastery of the quality.  He does a good job at describing what the quality is, what it entails doing, and how to do it.  I am thoroughly impressed with how well he dives into the detail without using a lot of fluff to create long sittings per chapter.  I enjoyed each of the sections the most and found myself walking away from each sitting after having read this section feeling very enlightened with clear direction on what I should be doing to further develop this quality in myself.

    The second section within each chapter is a section for reflection.  It is literally called “Reflecting on It”.  John poses a question and walks through some inner dialogue to drive home understanding of what needs to happen to fertilize the growth of this quality.  This section is followed by “Bringing it Home” where there are more bullet points to further illustrate how to apply the techniques of the quality directly to ourselves.  The layout of the bullet points makes reading immaculately pleasing and tidy.  Due to the organization of this writing, I rarely felt as if I was lost in the text.

    The last section of each chapter is titled “The Daily Take-away”.  Here the author finalizes the ideas that he introduced in the previous areas of the chapter and uses various techniques to tie them together for application.  The way he builds on the idea from start to finish with a minimal amount of content but left me with very full ideas is impressive.

Pro’s and Con’s

    I always have time to point out pro’s to John C. Maxwell’s writing, as I felt I have above.  I will take some time in this section to explore what he could have done to making reading this even a better experience. 

    The volume of the book itself is relatively small.  It concluded at 150 pages in, and the formatting of the pages was in such a way that kind of minimized content on each page.  Lots of spacing and captioning quotes reduced that 150 pages down by about 15 percent.  It was clear that it was intentionally formatted to deliver a lot of information very directly in a little package.  While I liked that, I may have liked it so much that I wanted more.  I found that even though I stretched the book out, like many good books, once I got going, I began binge reading multiple chapters at a time.  I never had to mark the book and take a break outside of the chapters, because they were so short and direct.

    John C. Maxwell can wrap me up in his story telling.  I have listened to some of his audio books that were narrated by him.  Every time I read one of his texts, I can hear him telling that story in my head.  This fellow has a real soothing voice, and just the thought of this gets me hooked every time.  I believe that some of his supportive material outside of the direct tips and strategies sometimes included additional information and fluff to make the strategies stretch throughout the book.  In most occasions I believe authors do this too much in order to stretch books out much further than they should be stretched, however, I wish in this case that he would have included a little more wordage.
    Finally, I would have liked to read about more direct applications of these qualities that do not involve a grand history story.  For many of the chapters John uses a famous piece of history to illustrate the importance of why a certain quality is included in his list of seventeen.  I wished that there were less fame involved in the stories and more personal application.

My Rating

    As far as business and leadership texts are concerned, I would give this a 4.5 out of 5.  It is pleasing to read, especially if you love organization.  The information is rather direct, the bits of history augment the writing, and it is true.  It is clear when you read this that this isn’t some sales pitch or phony claim.  Every quality you review and study in detail rings that eureka bell in your head and it becomes easy to tie it into the big picture of leadership.


  1. Was the formatting that reduced the content on each page a pro or a con in your opinion?

    1. Unwanted Life,

      I have a mixed opinion on this. In many cases when I am reading something that I am really into, I prefer a full robust coverage of the subject matter. This is what I was after in this case. With this in mind, I do consider it a con, however, I do believe that the quick injection of content by the author for the purpose of delivering raw information and no fluff is the driver of this. In this case, this is a pro, because it was that raw information that had me reeling for more. Thanks for taking the time to view my post!

  2. I have a hard time describing my thoughts on content, but I really felt I should here. Your article is really great. I like the way you wrote this information.