The Catalyst

While reading The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork by John C. Maxwell, his 6th chapter really stuck out. It’s called “The Law of the Catalyst.”  He says a team must have a catalyst: a player who makes things happen or has a get-it-done mentality. Everyone is on some kind of team. Think of a team you are on and start to implement some of his advice. Most of this is from John Maxwell’s book.

He uses this analogy:in a basketball game when the clock is ticking down, there are three kinds of people on your team:

People who don’t want the ball–these people have strengths; discover them and have them work in those instead.

People who want the ball but shouldn’t– this often involves ego. Again, help them find their strengths.

People who want the ball and should– these players will deliver results in the toughest situations.

He says there are 9 characteristics of a catalyst.

  1. Intuitive- they recognize their strengths and ‘smell’ opportunities to shine in them.
  2. Communicative- Churchill, Roosevelt, and Kennedy were communicative. They used words to convey their vision, purpose, plan, and dream to their team. In return, their team members responded positively and with action.
  3. Passionate- some players’ passions are so strong that they can inspire the rest of the team. Pete Rose said “It’s when his enthusiasm goes that he’s through as a player.” …and as a catalyst.
  4. Talented- every winning team requires talent. John Wooden said you have to have a lot of talent to win. There is no replacement. Talented players help others perform better.  You cannot give what you do not have.
  5. Creative- Carl Mays said “creativity involves taking what you have, where you are, and getting the most out of it.” A team player striving to bring new things to the table can often catapult a team ahead to their goals.
  6. Initiating- so many teams have great thoughts, ideas, new ways of thinking, or want to take the team a different direction. But it takes initiative and discipline to put those things into action. A catalyst takes a new idea and makes it happen.
  7. Responsible- catalysts don’t recommend a course of action (consultant)–they take responsibility for making it happen.
  8. Generous-all success begins with a gift. Catalysts often give up to produce the best result for their team (often called sacrifice.)
  9. Influential- influence is a product of good character. Bill Hybels wrote a book about it called Who You Are When No One’s Looking. High levels of integrity will naturally push you ahead of the pack.

Don’t get discouraged if you’re thinking, “I can’t call myself a 10 about any of those. I’m not even a 7-8!” If you want to improve yourself on some of the qualities of a catalyst, here is what Maxwell recommends:

  1. Find a mentor who already makes things happen. A mentor is someone who has already been where you want to be.
  2. Begin a growth plan that will force you to develop and grow your skills and talents.
  3. Get out of your comfort zone–force yourself to perform in unfamiliar situations. Go beyond where you’ve been before.


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