Developing Influence Within Your Organization

The 360 Degree Leader

As a brand new 2nd Lieutenant assigned to a new organization, I faced the challenge of leading from the middle.


Of course, I felt overwhelmed and intimidated as a new leader.  So how did I navigate the turbulent waters of leading from the middle?

By making mistakes and learning from them.  The journey would have been easier if I would have had a guide…

Leadership can happen anywhere, at any time (Kouzes & Posner, 2007, p. 9).

Thousands of books have been written on the topic of leadership and numerous theories have been developed and debated. While most individuals can describe a leader, leadership remains an elusive phenomenon to understand and develop (Clawson, 2009).

According to Northouse (2009), there are over 100 different definitions of leadership contained in leadership literature however; the majority of individuals recognize the actions of effective leaders.

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

Ninety-nine percent of all leadership occurs not from the top but from the middle of the organization” (Maxwell, 2005, p. 1).

While a majority of leadership books are written from the perspective of the leader at the top of the organization, the premise of The 360° Leader is leadership from the middle of an organization. Maxwell poses the question, where is the best place from which to lead?

Maxwell’s journey through the minefield of mid-level leadership is ripe with simple yet thought-provoking insight. His subtle approach to the myths of leading from the middle dispels common misconceptions, while the section on the challenges 360° leaders face validates the emotions and frustration of mid-level leaders.

Maxwell provides a roadmap for effective 360° leadership by outlining practical principles to lead-up, lead-across, and lead-down the organization.

Just when you think you have arrived at the end of the journey by validating the value of 360° Leaders, Maxwell starts the reader on a new path to develop other leaders in the organization by creating an environment that unleashes 360° Leaders.

In my next post I will discuss “The Myths of Leading from the Middle” and how dispelling those myths can change the way you lead.

Your friend,


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