Chances are, you are not the person at the very top of your organization. Even in the most progressive, least hierarchical models, there are most likely those who report to you, those to whom you report, and those in roughly the same place you are in. If you find yourself in such a place and you sense the need to improve your leadership skills, The 360º Leader by John C. Maxwell may be just the book for you. Maxwell is a prolific author in the area of leadership development. If you have read his other works, you will find a good deal here that is familiar (which is not a bad thing – reinforcing good teaching never is).
What makes this book different is that Maxwell situates his leadership wisdom within the context where most leaders, burgeoning leaders, and would-be leaders are. The first section disabuses us of many common excuses for not leading where we are (this part is worth the price of the book by itself, read it over and over until you stop letting yourself make these excuses). The second section takes a realistic look at challenges one faces in the dangerous world of middle management. The next three sections explain how you can lead those above you, those along side you, and those under you (respectively). In these sections, Maxwell is at his contextual best. Even if you know some of this from his previous works, you will likely find some concepts you shelved for later applied in ways you hadn’t thought of (e.g., in the lead-up section, principle #4 “do more than manage – lead” is one you may not have thought of with regard to influencing your leader). The final section reinforces the value of leading from where you are.
There are also quizzes in the back (called a Workbook) to test yourself on each main concept, and each section has a (way too brief) review. You can also use the passcode included to access a free online self-assessment of where you are as a leader. Maxwell advises the reader to take the self-assesment first. This might not be necessary if you are decently self-aware as a leader, but those who have difficulty in that area would certainly benefit from this tool.
Overall, this is a worthwhile contribution to the growing leadership literature and I think a great place to jump into Maxwell for the first time for the many who do not live at the organizational apex.
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