The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization

The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization

by John C. Maxwell

Who says you can't be a leader right where you are?

The 360-Degree Leader flips the traditional idea of leadership on its head, showing that you don't need a high-ranking title to make a difference. Through its practical advice and strategies, this book will teach you how to use your current role to influence those above you, work well with your teammates, and guide those under your wing. The book is filled with actionable insights on how to overcome common obstacles and how to harness the power of effective leadership to drive change and innovation within the organization.

Summary Notes

Leading From Anywhere

There is a common misconception that leadership must always come from those at the very top. But this belief can be misleading.

In reality, leadership is not limited to the highest tiers of an organization; it can be found at all levels. The notion that one must occupy a high-ranking position in order to lead is a misunderstanding that restricts the potential of individuals in middle management. Genuine leadership is all about the ability to influence others, regardless of one's place within the organizational hierarchy.

This concept is central to what we refer to as "360-degree leadership."

A 360-degree leader is someone who excels at leading not only their superiors but also their peers and subordinates. This all-encompassing approach to leadership makes leadership accessible to everyone and emphasizes the importance of influence over formal authority. The fundamental belief behind this philosophy is that leadership skills can be developed at any level, and every individual possesses the capability to make a meaningful contribution to their organization.

Actions to take

Leading Up

To excel as a 360-degree leader, one must master the art of leading in all directions—upwards to superiors, sideways to peers, and downwards to subordinates.

In this section, we're going to focus first on how to lead upward.

Leading upwards, or influencing your superiors, is about making yourself an invaluable asset to your leaders. Doing so can make your leaders trust and depend on you, even seeking your advice. There are nine key principles to mastering this skill.

Firstly, it's crucial to lead yourself exceptionally well. This means shifting your mindset from wanting a title or position that makes people follow you to becoming someone others genuinely want to follow. Self-leadership begins by managing key aspects of your life, such as your emotions, time, priorities, energy, thoughts, words, and personal life.

Secondly, you should aim to lighten your leader's load. Understand that when your boss succeeds, the entire organization benefits. So strive to excel in your own role and offer assistance to your leader whenever there's a chance. The goal is to be a valuable asset to your boss and the organization as a whole.

Thirdly, be willing to do what others won't. Set yourself apart by taking on challenging tasks. Embrace accountability, and be ready to do what's necessary for the organization's greater good.

Fourth, transition from managing to leading. This means prioritizing people, vision, and relationships over strict procedures and rules.

Fifth, invest in relational chemistry. Building strong relationships with your colleagues, including your leader, is crucial. Understand their priorities, interests, personalities, and passions. Dedicate time and effort to nurture these relationships, as trust forms the foundation of effective leadership.

Sixth, always be prepared when interacting with your leader. Recognize the value of their time, just as you value yours. Ensuring that your interactions are productive and efficient will establish you as a valuable contributor.

Seventh, have the discernment to know when to advocate for your ideas and when to step back. Effective leadership involves aligning your motives with the organization's best interests and carefully considering timing and potential risks.

Eighth, aspire to be the go-to person when challenges arise. Becoming a reliable problem solver will earn you the trust and respect of your peers and leaders.

Lastly, commit to personal growth and continuous improvement. Focus on developing your skills and knowledge, seek guidance from experienced individuals, and set higher goals for yourself. The journey to becoming a 360-Degree Leader involves ongoing self-improvement and dedication to being better tomorrow than you are today.

Actions to take

Leading Across

Becoming a 360-degree leader is all about having a bigger impact in your workplace, not just on those you manage directly, but also on your peers and superiors. This is what leading across is all about. It’s perfect for people in the middle of an organization who want to be major influencers among their colleagues. It's centered on creating a sense of unity, respect, and shared success.

At the core of this leadership style is something called the "leadership loop." Think of it as a never-ending cycle that focuses on creating strong bonds with fellow leaders through acts of kindness, learning from one another, celebrating each other's successes, supporting each other, clear communication, and enjoying victories together. This approach transforms leadership into a shared, supportive adventure.

A common challenge in many workplaces is the competition among team members. Although a little competition can sometimes be a good thing, too much can divide a team. To avoid this, great leaders encourage working together instead of against each other. They focus on collaborating with peers to meet common goals, using competition as a way to strengthen bonds and boost the team's morale.

Making friends at work is also important. Effective leaders behave like true friends—they listen well, are easy to talk to, find things in common, keep a positive outlook, and are honest. This kind of behavior helps to break down professional barriers and creates a supportive and efficient team environment.

Dealing with office politics is another aspect a leader commonly encounters. But good leaders avoid getting caught up in gossip and minor squabbles. Instead, they focus on keeping the team on track and leading in an ethical manner. By promoting fairness and earning trust, a leader can positively influence the company's culture.

It's also important for leaders to expand their network. Connecting with a wide range of people introduces new ideas and perspectives, which is vital for innovation. Emphasizing the importance of good ideas, regardless of where they come from, encourages progress and team success.

Lastly, leaders must learn to admit to mistakes and vulnerabilities. This might be difficult for some. But leaders who are open about their flaws and willing to learn from others appear more humble and genuine. This creates an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and growing together.

Actions to take

Leading Down

In the past section, we explored how leaders can have a positive impact on those around them through the lead-across approach. But leadership extends beyond influencing peers and superiors; it also involves guiding and inspiring those we lead directly. This is what leading down is all about.

Leading downwards is about empowering team members to realize their utmost potential, serving as an exemplary role model, and inspiring them to work towards a shared vision. This method is built on seven key principles.

The first principle emphasizes the importance of being visible and approachable. Leaders are encouraged to "walk the halls.” This means engaging directly with their teams, showing genuine care, and balancing professional responsibilities with personal interests. This approachability helps dismantle the barriers of inaccessibility and fosters a culture of open communication.

The second principle focuses on recognizing and respecting the potential within each team member. By treating individuals with dignity and believing in their capabilities, leaders inspire their teams to believe in themselves and strive for excellence. This belief system encourages a positive growth mindset and sets high expectations, which can motivate individuals to meet and surpass them.

Development of team members is the third principle. This involves understanding each person's aspirations and tailoring growth opportunities to their individual needs while aligning with organizational goals. This personalized approach ensures that development is a continuous, long-term process, fostering both personal and professional growth.

Identifying and leveraging the strengths of each team member forms the fourth principle. By assigning roles that align with an individual's strengths and providing world-class training, leaders can significantly enhance productivity and morale. This will ensure that team members are both successful and fulfilled.

The fifth principle highlights the impact of a leader's behavior on the organization's culture. Leaders who act as consistent role models set the tone for trust, productivity, and a positive work environment. The emulation of these behaviors by team members further amplifies the leader's influence and fosters a cohesive, values-driven culture.

Vision communication is the essence of the sixth principle, where leaders must articulate their vision in a way that is clear, connects with the team's past, present, and future, and inspires them towards common goals. This involves making responsibilities challenging, maintaining focus, and motivating with passion.

Finally, the seventh principle underlines the importance of recognition and reward. Leaders should praise and reward their team members both publicly and privately, tailoring rewards to reflect individual contributions and achievements. This approach not only acknowledges hard work but also reinforces the value of each team member's efforts.

Together, these principles form a powerful framework for 360-Degree leaders aiming to lead down effectively. By practicing these principles, leaders can cultivate an environment where every individual feels valued, understood, and motivated to contribute to the organization's success. This, in turn, leads to a thriving, productive workplace where both leaders and team members can achieve their fullest potential.

Actions to take

Don’t just read. Act.
Read comprehensive summaries and discover carefully compiled action lists for active learning