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

John Maxwell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 10 2006

In his nearly thirty years of teaching leadership, John Maxwell has encountered this question again and again: How do I apply leadership principles if Im not the boss? Its a valid question that Maxwell answers in The 360 Degree Leader voted best business book of the year by Soundview Executive Book Summary subscribers, and 2006 recipient of their Harold Longman Award. In this award-winning book, Maxwell asserts that you dont have to be the main leader to make 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. Debunking myths and shedding light on the challenges, John Maxwell offers specific principles for Leading Down, Leading Up, and Leading Across. 360-Degree Leaders can lead effectively, regardless of their position in an organization. By applying Maxwells principles, you will expand your influence and ultimately be a more valuable team member.


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From Publishers Weekly

In this latest treatise, leadership mega-guru Maxwell (The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership) taps a rich vein of corporate angst: the plight of the middle manager, saddled with responsibilities but lacking real power, torn by conflicting tasks and time-management dilemmas, seething with thwarted ambition. As Macbeth shows, it's a predicament fraught with tragic potential, but the staid, platitudinous treatment given it by Maxwell and ghostwriter Charlie Wetzel drains away the drama. They generally counsel acceptance of limitations. Maxwell tells middle managers to work diligently in subordinate positions, support the CEO's vision, find the good in incompetent or malevolent leaders, infiltrate their bosses' emotional lives ("Listen to your leader's heartbeat.... What makes them laugh?... Cry?.... Sing?") and "stand up for your leader whenever you can." They can thus exert an unsung but crucial "influence" over higherups, while themselves practicing a higher, sublimated form of leadership by selflessly nurturing the potential of their own colleagues and underlings. Unfortunately, Maxwell's practical advice boils down to vague truisms ("when you find a problem, provide a solution") or clichés ("If your boss is a golfer, you may want to take up the game"). His bland injunctions to resignation, patience and self-effacement are unobjectionable, but also uninspiring. (Jan. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 13 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and INJOY Stewardship Services.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I have probably read 8 or so leadership type books in the past 5 years and this one remains as one of the best. It starts from the perspective of leading thyself first, and then continues from there by examining how others will relate to one who leads, as opposed to one who simply manages. It is a very easy and enlightening read and does not get bogged down with jargon and overtly technical theoretical study. I highly recommend it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A solid book about leading from the middle! Nov. 26 2011
Format:Paperback
It's ironic that, according to some pundits, most leadership books are read by middle management. And finally we have a book that targets those in the middle, leading a little, being led, and sharing leadership with others.

In his usual polished style, Maxwell tells stories gleaned from business and leadership. He has gathered quotes from around the world and weaves them together to teach about leadership and success.

Maxwell begins by dismissing many myths about leadership. He argues that we need to lead wherever we are. We need to begin thinking about being leaders long before we are recognized as being part of leadership because there are tangible benefits both now and in the future.

Maxwell carries on by explaining where our influence lies, specifically in these 5 areas:

1. Position - Influence because of your role.
2. Permission - Influence because of your character.
3. Production - Influence because of your production.
4. People Development - Influence because of who you've mentored.
5. Personhood - Influence because of your personality.

John Maxwell also focuses on direction of leadership ' up, across, and down.

When leading up well, we must help our leaders by anticipating what our leaders need and then shouldering some of their load. It is also important to anticipate and use the time we have well, getting to know them and how to work with them.

When leading across well, we need to complete rather than compete, being a friend rather than a competitor.

When leading down, place people where they will thrive, modeling the behaviours you with to see. In the end, you are most effective as a leader when your vision is clear and you reward the behaviours you want to see.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Learning to Lead when you're not at the Top Sept. 2 2011
Format:Hardcover
Maxwell does it again.
This book provides great advice for those people who are not the CEO but who have drive and ambition to contribute and lead like one. With a firm grasp of leadership principles, coupled with extensive conventional wisdom regarding relationships, Maxwell delivers a great book on making the most of your leadership potential even if you're not at the top.
Highly recommended.

And, for CEO's and other top leaders, there is a helpful section at the back for making positive investments into the lives of up and coming leaders in your organization.
Well worth the read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars you will regret if you miss it Aug. 10 2011
By jmao
Format:Paperback
I'll say this book is a refinement of many John Maxwell's leadership paperbacks.
Leading from middle is a life lessons for almost everybody. This book provides you the global picture for this topic. I read each chapter over and over. And I feel extremely exciting when I can practice things I learnt or affirmed from this book.

You cannot miss it if you want be a blessing of your people!
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  177 reviews
71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Maxwell's Usual Standards Jan. 10 2006
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read and then reviewed most of Maxwell's previously published books which offer solid content, if not head-snapping revelations. For The 360º Leader, he has selected an important but neglected business subject: the middle manager who has far more responsibility than authority, who struggles to earn respect from her or his peers while accommodating the needs and interests of superiors, and who frequently feels overworked and under appreciated. That situation is even worse when reporting to the kind of pedant whom Jean Lipman-Blumen describes in The Allure of Toxic Leaders. As usual, Maxwell has organized his material with almost mechanical precision: a separate chapter devoted to each of seven "Myths" in Section I, to each of seven "Challenges" in Section II, to each of seven "Lead-Up Principles" in Section III, to each of seven "Lead-Across Principles" in Section IV...you get the idea. Perhaps because of Covey's influence, seven remains a favorite number to Maxwell and to other authors of business books.

I do not assert that Maxwell has a "cookie cutter" mentality. Rather, to suggest that he demonstrates in this book far greater facility with bromides than he does with insights. He is a conscientious recycler of ideas, especially those expressed in his earlier books. I found much in The 360º Leader that is clever but very little that is original. I appreciate the "Review" at the conclusion of each of the five sections. I regret that he merely lists the seven whatevers without annotations which would have made a periodic review of key points more rewarding.

With regard to this book's title, I think it has far greater potentiality than what Maxwell offers. It is indeed highly desirable for all managers -- not only those in the shrinking middle of once hierarchical organizations -- to maintain a synoptic (i.e. a 360º) perspective on the business world which surrounds them. Peripheral vision is no longer sufficient. Moreover, it is also important to "look" up -- at goals yet to be reached or visions yet to be fulfilled, for example -- and to "look" down to make certain that one's feet are on solid ethical ground. In my opinion, Maxwell fails to demonstrate a 360º perspective on his subject: how to develop (positive and productive) influence from anywhere in the organization.

There is also the matter of how one defines "leadership." Presumably Maxwell agrees with me that it is not dependent on one's rank, social status, title, salary, etc. Rather, it is the result of natural talents and innate qualities which have been carefully developed, indeed nourished. (Maxwell has much of value to say about that in other books.) Add some good luck, fortuitous timing, and a spoonful of "street smarts" and you have someone whom others respect and trust, someone whom others will voluntarily follow. What I think Maxwell means by "leadership" is actually initiative, one of the qualities most highly praised by Napoleon Hill who stressed the importance of "going the extra mile" and by Dale Carnegie when explaining how to win friends and influence people. Maxwell acknowledges neither in this book.

I have indicated my disappointment in a book I was so eager to read. Presumably it will be of interest and value to some people. If so, good for them as well as for Maxwell. However, I suspect there are others who need thought-provoking insights rather than the broad generalities on which so much of Maxwell's narrative depends. To them I strongly recommend James O'Toole's Creating the Good Life and Michael Ray's The Highest Goal. Neither is an "easy read." Fair enough. Neither are many of the situations we face in our lives each day.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally a book for those middle leaders with ants in their pants. Jan. 9 2006
By Lee Biles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John Maxwell hits another home run. If you are a Maxwell addict like me you will enjoy this book. I have almost read every book Maxwell has put out. And if you are anything like me you finish each of his books with things you can implement immediately and something's you know your leaders do wrong and get ants in your pants trying to find a way to help them be a better leader. As you may have read in "Developing The Leader Within You" or in "Developing The Leaders Around You" you know there is some discomfort in having a leader above you with less potential than you have grown to be. This book helps you find a way to shake some of those ants out. This is the how to guide to implementing these two books with some new good stuff for "leading-up." He continues in the format you have come accustomed to. It has many sub-sections to each chapter; this makes the book easy to squeeze in to your busy schedule a paragraph at a time. My only distaste of this book was the section reviews. I did not find them much help. Most of the review sections are the same as the table of contents (granted Maxwell's books have great TOC's) and a quick commercial, reminder, for the website 360DegreeLeader.com. The website required a lot personal information just to create a profile. (Password is in the jacket, so if you buy it used make sure this is still included. The survey was valuable.

-Lee
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable reflections for the middle manager Jan. 12 2006
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I do not share the somewhat down reviews of this book, and give it five stars to make that point. Instead of seeing this book as uninspired, I actually see it as reflective, and helpful in showing that we often overlook some of our most potential contributions.

Above all, the book stresses relationships and the nurturing of relationships up, down, sideways, all over. For this alone it is meritorious. The book also concludes with a comparison of the industrial era leaders versus the new leaders who take risks, serve others, nurture outsiders, etcetera.

My appreciation of this book is influenced by my interview of Alvin Toffler last night at the Lowes hotel in Beverly Hills. The new book that he and Heidi Toffler have coming out, on "Revolutionary Wealth," has many important insights but among those he summarized for me last night were three that help show the value of this book:

1) Sub-state and non-governmental organizations have been as important if not more important than national governments. How we study them, interact with them, nurture our relations with them, will have a lot to do with how promising a future we build.

2) The industrial era corporations and government bureaucracies are broken beyond repair. Entirely new network and localized alternative organizations are emerging or needed, that take a task force approach that fully integrates what have up to now been confrontational forces (e.g. Defense versus State).

3) Decision making is broken also. The scientific method is repressed and under-funded, while decisions are made based on shared assumptions, comfort levels, and consensus, regardless of what the facts are.

This excellent book is on a level with the Tofflers, and in my own view, is a fine primer for middle managers that would like to avoid becoming yes men drones under the dinosaurs, and instead break out to find new paths to moral capitalist success.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing Leadership Principles Together Jan. 6 2006
By D. Athey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The 360° Leader is a very easy to follow and enjoyable book to read. Dr. Maxwell writes in a very personable style using real life stories, analogies, and numerous quotes to provide the reader with great advice on leading from not only the top, but also from the middle and from the bottom of an organization. I was initially drawn to this book due to my interest in 360° performance appraisals; looking for ideas on how to better write them. However, not only did I gain a better understanding of what to look for in writing appraisals, I also now feel I have a better understanding of what I need to be doing to get great 360° performance appraisals myself. The best part of the book is that each section includes either suggestions for leaders or questions leaders should be asking themselves. Dr. Maxwell then provides a step-by-step process for each of the books leadership principles that any leader can immediately use. Many of the suggested steps use real world examples that I could easily relate to; which I plan on using in my own organization.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most practical leadership books I've ever read... Feb. 1 2007
By Thomas Duff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In a number of the self-improvement blogs I follow, one book title kept appearing over and over... The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization by John C. Maxwell. Curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to see what the talk was all about. Bottom line is that I found it to be one of the most practical books on leadership I've ever had the pleasure to read. And you don't have to be a CEO to apply the truths...

Contents:

Section 1 - The Myths of Leading from the Middle of an Organization: #1 - The Position Myth - "I can't lead if I am not at the top."; #2 - The Destination Myth - "When I get to the top, then I'll learn to lead."; #3 - The Influence Myth - "If I were on top, then people would follow me."; #4 - The Inexperience Myth - "When I get to the top, I'll be in control."; #5 - The Freedom Myth - "When I get to the top, I'll no longer be limited."; #6 - The Potential Myth - "I can't reach my potential if I'm not the top leader."; #7 - The All-or-Nothing Myth - "If I can't get to the top, then I won't try to lead."

Section 2 - The Challenges 360-Degree Leaders Face: #1 - The Tension Challenge - The Pressure of Being Caught in the Middle; #2 - The Frustration Challenge - Following an Ineffective Leader; #3 - The Multi-Hat Challenge - One Head... Many Hats; #4 - The Ego Challenge - You're Often Hidden in the Middle; #5 - The Fulfillment Challenge - Leaders Like the Front More Than the Middle; #6 - The Vision Challenge - Championing the Vision Is More Difficult When You Didn't Create It; #7 - The Influence Challenge - Leading Others Beyond Your Position Is Not Easy

Section 3 - The Principles 360-Degree Leaders Practice to Lead Up: #1 - Lead Yourself Exceptionally Well; #2 - Lighten Your Leader's Load; #3 - Be Willing to Do What Others Won't; #4 - Do More Than Manage - Lead!; #5 - Invest in Relational Chemistry; #6 - Be Prepared Every Time You Take Your Leader's Time; #7 - Know When to Push and When to Back Off; #8 - Become a Go-To Player; #9 - Be Better Tomorrow Than You Are Today

Section 4 - The Principles 360-Degree Leaders Practice to Lead Across: #1 - Understand, Practice, and Complete the Leadership Loop; #2 - Put Completing Fellow Leaders Ahead of Competing with Them; #3 - Be a Friend; #4 - Avoid Office Politics; #5 - Expand Your Circle of Acquaintances; #6 - Let the Best Idea Win; #7 - Don't Pretend You're Perfect

Section 5 - The Principles 360-Degree Leaders Practice to Lead Down: #1 - Walk Slowly Through the Halls; See Everyone As a "10"; #3 - Develop Each Team Member as a Person; #4 - Place People in Their Strength Zones; #5 - Model the Behavior You Desire; #6 - Transfer the Vision; #7 - Reward for Results

Section 6 - The Value of 360-Degree Leaders: #1 - A Leadership Team Is More Effective Than Just One Leader; #2 - Leaders Are Needed at Every Level of the Organization; #3 - Leading Successfully at One Level Is a Qualifier for Leading at the Next Level; #4 - Good Leaders in the Middle Make Better Leaders at the Top; #5 - 360-Degree Leaders Possess Qualities Every Organization Needs

Special - Create an Environment That Unleashes 360-Degree Leaders; Notes; About the Author

As you can see above, the book is packed with a lot of information, but it's all very practical and applicable. The premise of 360-Degree leadership is that you don't become a leader when you're promoted into a position with the title. You become a leader when people start to follow you. It doesn't matter where you are in the organization, as you'll always be leading in an upward direction (to your superiors), an outward direction (to your peers), and a downward direction (to those who report to you). By using this book to understand the true meaning of leadership, you can start to hone your skills in your current environment, thereby building the bridges and relationships you'll need going forward.

I really like how this book is laid out. Section 1 destroys the common mindsets that middle managers often have towards being an official "leader" (higher than they are now). Upper management have different challenges, and there's no magic decree that makes them expert leaders when they are promoted. Section 2 takes a deeper look into the special challenges of being "in the middle" of an organization. Many things are expected from both directions (and from your peers), and it feels like you don't have the authority to lead as you'd like. But rather than just leave you floundering there, Maxwell covers how 360-Degree leadership is manifested in all directions... how to lead your boss and upper management by learning to lead yourself, how to interact with your peers to build a stronger overall team, and how to lead those who officially look to you for direction. The last direction can be hard, as you may have the title but not the respect and trust of your subordinates. If you strive to become the leader that Maxwell describes, you'll find that people willingly align themselves with you and your leadership "selling" is far easier...

In my working career, I've found that 360-Degree leaders (or whatever you want to call them) are by far the most effective leaders a company can have. People love working for them, things get done, and they're the ones that seem to handle everything with a level of grace and ease not often seen these days. I strongly recommend this book to just about anyone in an organization, as we should all be "leaders" in our own areas, even if you don't have a title that reflects that.
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