Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The 360° Leader by John C. Maxwell

Title: The 360° Leader

Author: John C. Maxwell

Rating: Good

Reason for Reading:  Of all of Maxwell’s many books on leadership, this one perhaps speaks most directly to my position, as I am a leader in the middle of my organization.  When the BookSneeze® program offered this book, I requested a copy to review.

Format:  Softcover

Summary:  The 360° Leader is divided into six sections, as Maxwell walks the reader through the concept of leading from anywhere within an organization to the practical steps of maximizing your influence.  First, Maxwell challenges the myth that only the persons at the very top of the organization chart can be true leaders.  The author describes in detail how those within the middle of the organization have a unique and valuable opportunity to lead and influence others that the top leaders do not.

Then, Maxwell identifies the challenges of leading from the middle, describing how the approach of the 360° leader has to be different from the top executive.  The author then dedicates a section to how the 360° leader exercises influence in all three possible directions:
Ø      Leading Up:  How to lead your leaders
Ø      Leading Across:  How to lead your peers and equals, and
Ø      Leading Down:  How to lead your subordinates and reports.
Finally, Maxwell describes how vital to the success of an organization the leadership skills of those in the middle are.  As an example, he cites General Tommy Franks description of the United States Army as dependent on strength of its non-commissioned officers.  Franks says that “sergeants are the backbone of the Army”.

This copy also included a workbook printed as an appendix, that the reader can use to develop the leadership skills Maxwell advocates for 360° leaders.  The book also includes access to additional resources online at http://www.360degreeleader.com/

Review:  I find that this book fills a critical niche in the leadership library that has been much overlooked.  There are numerous books about exercising leadership from the very top of an organization.  However, materials dedicated specifically at those in “middle management” have been much harder to find.  Because those in the position of being both leader and follower have a much different point of view, this book is valuable to someone conforming theoretical leadership concepts into their day-to-day jobs.

As usual, Maxwell lays out in easy-to-follow sections and lists the specifics of his concept of 360° leaders.  Maxwell also completes the picture with vivid and relatable stories to illustrate his points, making it easy for the reader to translate the concepts into concrete action steps.

I heartily recommend this as an important read for anyone who finds themselves in the middle of their organization and wants to maximize their influence over their portion of it and its entirety.


Other resources:

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://booksneeze®.com/> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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