The topic of leadership is my passion. I love devouring books and articles on leadership. The topic can be discussed from Christian authors or even secular authors – it really doesn’t matter because any leadership principles that work in the world are always biblical principles.
John Maxwell is known as the guru on this topic in the Christian circles (always debatable). I guess after teaching and speaking on leadership for the last 35 years has some weight and credibility.
I have always appreciated his short one word definition of leadership – “influence.” So many people are so caught up on the position of leadership that they fail to see that the true measure of leadership is simply to see if we have “influence.”
In our church, I have been constantly talking about how we will all be in leadership roles in the future. Whether we will become parents, managers in companies, community project directors, helping out with small groups and etc. – we all have some level of influence with people.
Out of myriad of books on leadership, I think this book is probably the most applicable for anybody in any organization. In fact, I felt as if this book was Maxwell’s compilation of many of his leadership principles and lessons.
The basic premise of this book is learning how to develop your influence from anywhere in an organization. One hard fact is: not everyone will be the CEO (top guy) in an organization. In reality most people will be either on the entry level trying to work their way up or they will be in middle management. But the question is: can you be a leader that has influence with people above you (your boss), around you (peers), and below you (employees)? Hence, the 360 title.
Maxwell starts off by giving 7 myths about leading from the middle of an organization. He was dead on with every single one. I am amazed at the number of people who have bought into some of these myths. The stronger they hold on to these myths, the worst they are in being able to influence people from the middle.
Maxwell also tries to empathize with people who are caught in the middle management role (this is probably one of the hardest roles to play in any organization). He describes 7 challenges that most people from the middle face when it comes to influencing people around them.
In the rest of the book, Maxwell lays out principles so that a person can “lead-up,” “lead-across,” and “lead-down.”
The thing that caught my attention throughout this book is how hard it is to find people who are in the middle of the organization but that they love the vision of the organization and they are willing to do anything to see it become a reality. Whenever we are leading something, it is always easy to give 100% to it. But when we are not the ones calling the shots, it is hard to give everything. But when you find people who are just as passionate and committed to the vision (even though they are not the top-guy), then we need to do everything and anything to retain them and develop them. They will help the organization to reach the next level.
I think this book is a definite “must-read” for leadership teams in any organization. It will really shed new light to some of the struggles that people face as leaders.
If “everything rises and falls with leadership” then it is imperative that we start learning how to be a 360 leader.