leader network logo

Focus on Leadership: Book Review

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

The book review presented below is provided by Luke Johnson.

The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization is published by Thomas Nelson (2006), ISBN# 978-0785260929.


What a great book! I really enjoyed reading Maxwell’s perceptions on leadership and his thoughts on how anyone in an organization can be a leader. Maxwell divides his book into six sections:

• Leadership myths
• Challenges to a 360 degree leader
• Leading up
• Leading across
• Leading down
• The value of a 360 degree leader

This book was very easy to read and was full of great principles to follow no matter where you are in your organization. Each section had at least one key takeaway. Those takeaways are described in the following paragraphs.

Leadership myths

“If I were on top, people would follow me.” Sure, the people who work for you will do what you tell them to do, but nothing more and nothing less. Having ‘power’ is not what leadership is. Leadership is about creating an environment in which the people in your organization can make themselves better, thus improving your team and making your organization more successful.

Challenges to a 360 degree leader

The vision challenge. It is common to hear the vision being cast down from executives, and employees have two choices: embrace it or challenge it. Often, people challenge the vision. Why? Because they don’t understand it. A lot of leaders do a great job of speaking their vision, but what they do not do well is explain their vision. Telling someone something is completely different from explaining and making sure the message is understood.

How to lead up

Lighten your leader’s load. The greater the burden you take off your leader, the more time he or she has to lead; over time you will be rewarded for that. However, be careful because managers may take advantage of you and take credit for all your hard work. If this is the case, it is time to find another position to move on to.

How to lead across

Understand, practice, and complete the Leadership Loop. There is a process in leading, as it takes time to develop trust and respect. Be aware of the cycle of caring, learning, appreciating, contributing, verbalizing, leading, and succeeding.

How to lead down

Walk slowly through the halls. Many managers spend a lot of time in their offices and not out with the team. This may work in manager roles where the focus is on numbers, meetings and production numbers, but leaders do not practice this. Leaders are in the business of developing people: How can you develop your people when you are stuck in your office?

The value of a 360 degree leader

Leaders are needed at every level of the organization. This idea will only become more important as leadership evolves throughout the 21st century. As true leadership challenges trickle down through traditional organizational charts, individuals who may never have had the intention of leading will be asked to do so.

About the Focus on Leadership Book Review: the Leader Network's book review feature introduces leaders to worthwhile leadership reading selections.