The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organizationby John C. Maxwell
Don’t wait for that promotion! Start leading NOW…right where you are!
What’s the number one question leadership expert John C. Maxwell is asked while conducting his leadership conferences? “How can I implement what you teach when I’m not the top leader?”. Is it possible to lead well when you’re not the top dog? How about
Don’t wait for that promotion! Start leading NOW…right where you are!
What’s the number one question leadership expert John C. Maxwell is asked while conducting his leadership conferences? “How can I implement what you teach when I’m not the top leader?”. Is it possible to lead well when you’re not the top dog? How about if the person you work for is a bad leader? The answer is a resounding yes!
Welcome to The 360° Leader. People who desire to lead from the middle of organizations face unique challenges. And they are often held back by myths that prevent them from developing their influence. Dr. Maxwell, one of the globe’s most trusted leadership mentors, debunks the myths, shows you how to overcome the challenges, and teaches you the skills you need to become a 360° leader.
If you have found yourself trying to lead from the middle of the organization, as the vast majority of professionals do, then you need Maxwell’s insights. You have a unique opportunity to exercise influence in all directions—up (to the boss), across (among your peers), and down (to those you lead). The good news is that your influence is greater than you know.
Practice the disciplines of 360° leadership and the opportunities will be endless . . . for your organization, for your career, and for your life.
Each of these people was a great leader. Each made an impact that has touched millions of people. Yet these pictures can also be misleading. The reality is that 99 percent of all leadership occurs not from the top but from the middle of an organization. Usually, an organization has only one person who is the leader. So, what do you do if you are not that one person?
According to leadership expert John C. Maxwell, you can learn to develop your influence from wherever you are in the organization by becoming a 360-degree leader. You can learn to lead up, lead across and lead down. Only 360-degree leaders influence people at every level of the organization. By helping others, they help themselves.
Becoming a 360-degree leader is within the reach of anyone who possesses average or better leadership skills and is willing to work at it. You don't have to be the main leader to have a significant impact in your organization. Good leaders are not only capable of leading their followers but are also adept at leading their superiors and their peers.
Maxwell writes that leading up is the 360-degree leader's greatest challenge. Most leaders want to lead, not be led. But most leaders also want to have value added to them. If you take the approach of wanting to add value to those above you, you have the best chance of influencing them.
Your underlying strategy should be to support your leader, add value to the organization, and distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack by doing your work with excellence. If you do these things consistently, then in time the leader above you may learn to trust you, rely on you, and look to you for advice. With each step, your influence will increase and you will have more and more opportunities to lead up.
To succeed as a 360-degree leader who leads peer-to-peer, Maxwell writes, you have to work at giving your colleagues reasons to respect and follow you. You can do that by helping your peers win. If you can help them win, you will not only help the organization, but also yourself.
If you want to gain influence and credibility with people working alongside you, don't try to take shortcuts or cheat the process. Instead, you have to show people that you care about them by taking an interest in them. Make an effort to get to know them as individuals. You should also strive to see others' unique experiences and skills as resources and try to learn from them.
When you go out of your way to add value to your peers, they understand that you really want them to win with no hidden agenda of your own. Affirm them by praising their strengths and acknowledging their accomplishments.
What makes 360-degree leaders unique — and so effective — is that they take the time and effort to earn influence with their followers just as they do with those over whom they have no authority.
As a 360-degree leader, when you lead down, you are doing more than just getting people to do what you want. Maxwell explains that you are finding out who they are, helping them to discover and reach their potential, showing the way by becoming a model they can follow, helping them become a part of something bigger than they could create on their own, and rewarding them for being contributors on the team. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
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THE 360° LEADERDeveloping Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization
By JOHN C. MAXWELL
Nelson BusinessCopyright © 2005 John C. Maxwell
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMyth #1
The Position Myth: "I can't lead if I am not at the top."
If I had to identify the number one misconception people have about leadership, it would be the belief that leadership comes simply from having a position or title. But nothing could be further from the truth. You don't need to possess a position at the top of your group, department, division, or organization in order to lead. If you think you do, then you have bought into the position myth.
A place at the top will not automatically make anyone a leader. The Law of Influence in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership states it clearly: "The true measure of leadership is influence-nothing more, nothing less."
Because I have led volunteer organizations most of my life, I have watched many people become tied up by the position myth. When people who buy into this myth are identified as potential leaders and put on a team, they are very uncomfortable if they have not been given some kind of title or position that labels them as leaders in the eyes of other team members.Instead of working to build relationships with others on the team and to gain influence naturally, they wait for the positional leader to invest them with authority and give them a title. After a while, they become more and more unhappy, until they finally decide to try another team, another leader, or another organization.
People who follow this pattern don't understand how effective leadership develops. If you've read some of my other leadership books, you might be aware of a leadership identification tool I call "The Five Levels of Leadership," which I introduce in Developing the Leader Within You. It captures the dynamics of leadership development as well as anything I know. Just in case you're not familiar with it, I'll explain it briefly here.
Leadership is dynamic, and the right to lead must be earned individually with each person you meet. Where you are on the "staircase of leadership" depends on your history with that person. And with everyone, we start at the bottom of the five steps or levels.
That bottom (or first) level is position. You can only start from the position you have been given, whatever it is: production-line worker, administrative assistant, salesperson, foreman, pastor, assistant manager, and so forth. Your position is whatever it is. From that place, you have certain rights that come with your title. But if you lead people using only your position, and you do nothing else to try to increase your influence, then people will follow you only because they have to. They will follow only within the boundaries of your job description. The lower your stated position, the less positional authority you possess. The good news is that you can increase your influence beyond your title and position. You can "move up" the staircase of leadership to higher levels.
If you move to level two, you begin to lead beyond your position because you have built relationships with the people you desire to lead. You treat them with dignity and respect. You value them as human beings. You care about them, not just the job they can do for you or the organization. Because you care about them, they begin to trust you more. As a result, they give you permission to lead them. In other words, they begin to follow you because they want to.
The third level is the production level. You move to this phase of leadership with others because of the results you achieve on the job. If the people you lead succeed in getting the job done because of your contribution to the team, then they will look to you more and more to lead the way. They follow you because of what you've done for the organization.
To reach the fourth level of leadership, you must focus on developing others. Accordingly, this is called the people-development level of leadership. Your agenda is to pour yourself into the individuals you lead-mentor them, help them develop their skills, and sharpen their leadership ability. What you are doing, in essence, is leadership reproduction. You value them, add value to them, and make them more valuable. At this level, they follow you because of what you've done for them.
The fifth and final level is the personhood level, but it is not a level one can strive to reach, because reaching it is outside of your control. Only others can put you there, and they do so because you have excelled in leading them from the first four levels for a long period of time. You have earned the reputation of a level-five leader.
Disposition More than Position
When potential leaders understand the dynamics of gaining influence with people using the Five Levels of Leadership, they come to realize that position has little to do with genuine leadership. Do individuals have to be at the top of the organizational chart to develop relationships with others and get them to like working with them? Do they need to possess the top title to achieve results and help others become productive? Do they have to be president or CEO to teach the people who report to them to see, think, and work like leaders? Of course not. Influencing others is a matter of disposition, not position.
You can lead others from anywhere in an organization. And when you do, you make the organization better. David Branker, a leader who has influenced others from the middle of organizations for years and who currently serves as an executive director in a large church, said, "To do nothing in the middle is to create more weight for the top leader to move. For some leaders-it might even feel like dead weight. Leaders in the middle can have a profound effect on an organization."
Every level of an organization depends on leadership from someone. The bottom line is this: Leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit. Anyone can choose to become a leader wherever he is. You can make a difference no matter where you are.
The Destination Myth:
"When I get to the top, then I'll learn to lead."
In 2003, Charlie Wetzel, my writer, decided he wanted to tackle a goal he had held for more than a decade. He was determined to run a marathon. If you were to meet Charlie, you'd never guess that he is a runner. The articles in running magazines say that at five feet ten inches tall, a distance runner should weigh 165 pounds or less. Charlie weighs more like 205. But he was a regular runner who averaged twelve to twenty miles a week and ran two or three 10K races every year, so he picked the Chicago marathon and decided to go for it.
Do you think Charlie just showed up at the starting line in downtown Chicago on race day and said, "Okay, I guess it's time to figure out how to run a marathon"? Of course not. He started doing his homework a year in advance. He read reviews of marathons held around the United States and learned that the Chicago marathon-held in October-enjoys great weather most years. It utilizes a fast, flat race course. It has a reputation for having the best fan support of any marathon in the nation. It was the perfect place for a first-time marathoner.
He also started learning how to train for a marathon. He read articles. He searched Web sites. He talked to marathon runners. He even recruited a friend who had run two marathons to race with him in Chicago on October 12. And, of course, he trained. He started the process in mid-April, increasing his mileage every week and eventually working his way up to two training runs of twenty miles each in addition to his other sessions. When race day came around, he was ready-and he completed the race.
Leadership is very similar. If you want to succeed, you need to learn as much as you can about leadership before you have a leadership position. When I meet people in social settings and they ask me what I do for a living, some of them are intrigued when I say I write books and speak. And they often ask what I write about. When I say leadership, the response that makes me chuckle most goes something like this: "Oh. Well, when I become a leader, I'll read some of your books!" What I don't say (but want to) is: "If you'd read some of my books, maybe you'd become a leader."
Good leadership is learned in the trenches. Leading as well as they can wherever they are is what prepares leaders for more and greater responsibility. Becoming a good leader is a lifelong learning process. If you don't try out your leadership skills and decision-making process when the stakes are small and the risks are low, you're likely to get into trouble at higher levels when the cost of mistakes is high, the impact is far reaching, and the exposure is greater. Mistakes made on a small scale can be easily overcome. Mistakes made when you're at the top cost the organization greatly, and they damage a leader's credibility.
How do you become the person you desire to be? You start now to adopt the thinking, learn the skills, and develop the habits of the person you wish to be. It's a mistake to daydream about "one day when you'll be on top" instead of handling today so that it prepares you for tomorrow. As Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden said, "When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare." If you want to be a successful leader, learn to lead before you have a leadership position.
The Influence Myth: "If I were on top, then people would follow me."
I once read that President Woodrow Wilson had a housekeeper who constantly lamented that she and her husband didn't possess more prestigious positions in life. One day the lady approached the president after she heard that the secretary of labor had resigned from the administration.
"President Wilson," she said, "my husband is perfect for his vacant position. He is a laboring man, knows what labor is, and understands laboring people. Please consider him when you appoint the new secretary of labor."
Excerpted from THE 360° LEADER by JOHN C. MAXWELL Copyright © 2005 by John C. Maxwell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
John C. Maxwell, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach and speaker, was identified as the #1 leader in business by the AMA and the world’s most influential leadership expert by Inc. in 2014.His organizations—The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP—have trained over 6 million leaders in every nation. Visit JohnMaxwell.com for more information.
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