9 Principles Leaders Practice to Lead-Up

The 360 Degree Leader

Have you ever heard the expression “you can’t see the forest for the trees”? When you are in the middle, navigating the seas of leadership requires knowledge, skill and support.

Lead-UpLearning to lead up is a critical skill. How did I, over a 20-year career, lead the leadership above me? I did two things… First, I did my job well and second I earned the trust of my bosses.

This post is the fourth in a series about leadership based on John Maxwell’s book The 360 Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization.

“If you want to get ahead, leading up is much better than kissing up” (p. 81). The greatest challenge of the 360° Leader is leading up (Maxwell, 2005). There are nine principles 360° Leaders practice to lead-up which are:

#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

Maxwell states, “When you help someone bigger than you, it makes you part of something bigger” (p. 96). However, people will not go along with you if they cannot get along with you, therefore it is important to invest in relational chemistry.

The job of mid-level leaders is to lighten their leader’s load.

360° Leaders have a “whatever it takes” attitude and go the extra mile to add value to the organization. They are the go-to player because they make things happen in spite of the circumstances and they are always prepared when they take their leader’s time.

The 360° Leaders understand the ebbs and flows of the organization; therefore, they know when to push and when to back off. Through their actions, the 360° Leader not only grows other leaders but also themselves.

My next post will examine the Principles 360-Degree Leaders Practice to Lead Across. Until then, give some thought to which principle you will be practicing to lead-up!

Your Friend,


Dr. Kim Moore

Kim d. moore

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