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

By John C. Maxwell

6,516 ratings - 4.15* vote

Learn how to lead with maximum impact, regardless of your position, through this masterclass distillation of John C. Maxwell's thirty years of experience teaching people how to make a significant difference in their organizations.Don't wait for that promotion!Start leading NOW... right where you are!What's the number one question leadership expert John C. Maxwell is asked while conducting his leadership conferences?  "How can I implement what you teach when I'm not the top leader?"Is it

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Book details

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 8th 2006 by HarperCollins Leadership

(first published January 1st 2005)

Original Title
The 360 Degree Leader
0785260927 (ISBN13:9780785260929)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Peter Scholtens

It’s ironic that, according to some pundits, most leadership books are read by middle management. Finally we have a book that targets those in the middle, leading a little, being led, and sharing leadership with others.

In his usual polished style, Maxwell tells stories gleaned from business and leadership. He has gathered quotes from around the world and weaves them together to teach about leadership and success.

Maxwell begins by dismissing many myths about leadership. He argues that we need to lead wherever we are. We need to begin thinking about being leaders long before we are recognized as being part of leadership because there are tangible benefits both now and in the future.

Maxwell carries on by explaining where our influence lies, specifically in these 5 areas:

1. Position - Influence because of your role.
2. Permission - Influence because of your character.
3. Production - Influence because of your production.
4. People Development - Influence because of who you’ve mentored.
5. Personhood - Influence because of your personality.

John Maxwell also focuses on direction of leadership – up, across, and down.

When leading up well, we must help our leaders by anticipating what our leaders need and then shouldering some of their load. It is also important to anticipate and use the time we have well, getting to know them and how to work with them.

When leading across well, we need to complete rather than compete, being a friend rather than a competitor.

When leading down, place people where they will thrive, modeling the behaviours you with to see. In the end, you are most effective as a leader when your vision is clear and you reward the behaviours you want to see.

This book, John C. Maxwell’s, The 360 Degree Leader, helps in stick-handling through the leadership possibilities at all levels of an organization. He makes it clear that, whether in business, family, or in not-for-profit work, if you are interacting with people, the opportunities for leadership are endless.

This book is a great entry level read for those who are wondering when they will receive the mantle of leadership in their organization. Remember, wherever you are, you are already a leader.


I feel like the type of person that would benefit most from this book is that jerk you know in Accounting who's full of himself, opinionated about everything, unable to connect with others, and always wondering why he never gets promoted.

For everyone else, it offers some helpful principles, but it's a bit outdated. Also it sort of felt like this guy was primarily speaking to other middle-aged white male Christian managers and wanna-be managers in non-technical fields. The examples and metaphors he used to demonstrate the principles were all about sports, religion, and the military, which were all very valid and demonstrative of his points, but may not speak to the mindsets and values of GenXers or Millenials, or anybody in any sort of IT or technical field.

I think I would have liked this better as a PowerPoint presentation. That is the first and last time I will ever write that sentence.

Anand Kumar

Just finished reading “The 360 Leader” by John C Maxwell.

Many supervisors with leadership responsibilities think that because they are not the main leader - they cannot influence peers, subordinates or even bosses. Even if someone is reporting to someone else, they can use the three different skills of leading up, leading across, and leading down the enterprise. Once leaders can incorporate these principles into their own style of management, they will be able to influence others in every direction and become a 360-Degree Leader.

In part 1: Author talks about Myths around position myth, destination myth, no one will follow unless you are a manager, magical properties of position, the top is freedom, potential reach is with position and people won’t try. By explaining and detailing all these myths John has proved that “You can lead others from anywhere in an organization. And when you do, you make the organization better.”

In Part 2: Author talks about the challenges a 360 leaders face: Tension Challenge, frustration challenge, pressure challenge, ego challenges, like the font challenge, vision challenge, and influence challenge. Going in detail about these challenges and how to handle it John provide an insight to say “The role of leaders in the middle of an organization – in nearly every circumstance – is to add value to the organization and to the leader.”

In Part 3: Author detailed about the Principles practice to Lead Up and the favorite of mine in the book

1. “Lead yourself. That’s where it all starts. Besides, if you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else?”
2. “If you help lift the load, then you help your leader succeed
3. Successful 360-Degree Leaders can do what others don’t want to do by stepping out of their comfort zones.
4. There is a distinct difference between managers and leaders. Managers work with processes while leaders work with people
5. Part of working successfully with these inevitable intangibles is the establishment of good relationships no matter whether people are leading up, across, or down the organization
6. All leaders value time. This principle suggests that people must be prepared when taking any of a leader’s time.
7. Timing is essential to good leadership
8. Becoming a team member who gets things done and demonstrates competency, responsibility, and reliability becomes the one people will turn to when things need to happen
9. Many people do not realize that they’re on an ongoing journey requiring growth and improvement each day. Leaders need to keep learning to better themselves at all times.

In Part 4: Author detailed about the Principles practiced to Lead across
In Part 5: Author detailed about the principles practiced to lead down

Leaders help people succeed and any organizations depend on leaders for them to be successful, and they must have 360-Degree Leaders. Through the principles of the 360-Degree Leader – It’s easy to understand how to lead from the middle. With abundant quotes and real example of leaders, This book takes on a realistic journey to become a 360-Degree Leader. The 360-Degree Leader is a tremendous resource for people at every level of the enterprise.

Few quotes from the book:

- If you wouldn't follow yourself, why should anyone else?
- Leadership is more disposition than position—influence others from wherever you are
- Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do
- Advice is what we ask for when we already knew the answer but wish we didn't
- Managers work with processes—leaders work with people
- Everything rises and falls on leadership
- If you want to get ahead, leading up is much better than kissing up
- The closest to perfection people ever come is when they write their resumes
- you must be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way

It's a good book to have on the shelves when you want to grow as a leader and take the suggestions.
Happy Reading!!!

@ JohnCMaxwell


Leaders are found everywhere in an organisation and it is actually harder for people to lead from the middle of the organisation. John C. Maxwell's book showed me that even if I am not the main leader, I still need to be developing my leadership skills, influence and potential right where I am.

Leading in the 360° way means looking at yourself first, then how to influence your leader, your peers and finally (what we think of as traditional leadership) the people under you.

I started this book in May and decided to take my time to read it because it was so full of good and interesting information and I wanted to fully digest each chapter before moving on. The workbook at the end really helped with this. And each chapter ends with a review of that chapter as well.

This book has really changed my thinking about leadership and also helped me see my role in leading others completely differently. I don't just have an influence on those below me, but also on my colleagues, and my leaders. It has been very interesting for me putting some of these ideas into practice, and I have already seen some positive results!

His use of practical examples and interesting stories definitely makes this an easy read, and it was only because of the amount of good stuff in it that made me stretch it out over time to get the maximum amount out of the book. As part of having the book, there is an assessment that you can take at and it was interesting to see the results and also really helped with working through the book as well.

Wherever you are working in an organisation, I would highly recommend you to get this book and work through it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


I am not a fan of business self-help books. They make banal statements and reinforce crappy ideals that don't challenge individuals or businesses, nor do they get at the root of most individuals/business actual problems. Rife with sports and religious platitudes, this book is like all the rest: don't change a broken system; change your attitude towards the broken system and all will be well.


I was over-exposed to Maxwell's writings in Bible college, so I stopped paying attention to his stuff for about a decade. It seemed like everything he wrote was just a repackaging of the same concept: leadership=influence.

This book, however, goes beyond that. It may be the most important book he's written since 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The main takeaway from the book is a reminder that not only is leadership not just a positional/title thing, but the majority of leadership happens from the middle of an organization. How a people lead when they're not at the top of the organizational chart has more impact on an organization's health than the actions of the person at the top.

There's a whole lot more than this, so if you feel called to lead, no matter what your current position may be, this book is well worth the read.

Paul Kandavalli

The book “The 360 Degree Leader – Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization” By John C. Maxwell is one book that every person who is already a leader or ever wishes to lead must read. It shows anyone how to lead, regardless of their level in any organization. This book is not something that can be read and put away, but must be a reference for every leader or a future leader.

John Maxwell covered all the qualities and characteristics that are required by a 360-Degree Leader. A 360-Degree Leader is someone who will be able to lead from anywhere in the organization. John Maxwell provided extensive details about this kind of leaders who practice to Lead Up, Lead Across and Lead Down. For me being a person who is leading from the middle, I found this book to be a very valuable resource.

John Maxwell clearly wrote that being a good leader is a lifelong learning process. Good leaders will gain influence beyond their stated position. A position does not make a leader but a leader can make the position. In leadership no matter where you are in the organization the bottom line is always influence.

In the first section of this book John Maxwell wrote about the 7 myths of leading from the middle of the organization. These myths include the Position Myth, Destination Myth, Influence Myth, Inexperience Myth, Freedom Myth, Potential Myth and the All-Or-Nothing Myth. I can tell that these are real myths that every leader faces. These are written in great detail with a lot of thought provoking illustrations.

In the second section John presents the challenges that 360-Degree Leaders face. They include the Tension Challenge (The pressure of being caught in the middle), The Frustration Challenge (Following an ineffective leader), The Vision Challenge (How Championing a vision is more difficult when you did not create the vision) to name a few challenges. All these challenges are real that every leader faces. The reality is that most of the people in the organization other than the top leader are going to be asked to fulfill a vision that they did not generate. He also presented the Influence challenge. John Maxwell always emphasizes that “Leadership is nothing but Influence”. He writes that 360-Degree Leaders should work to change the thinking from “I want a position that will make people to follow me to, I want to become a person that people will want to follow”.

In the third section of this book John writes about “The Principles of 360-Degree Leaders – Practice to Follow Up”. In this section he presents 9 principles that include Lead yourself Exceptionally Well, Lighten your Leaders load, Be willing to do what other’s Won’t, Do more than Manage-Lead, Invest in Relational Chemistry, Become a Go to Player and Be Better tomorrow that you are today. These principles are presented exceptionally well with great details and relevant illustrations and examples. John writes that “The key to personal development is to be more growth oriented that goal oriented. Leaders are Learners. If you are not moving forward as a learner, then you moving back as a leader.”

In the fourth section John writes about “The Principles of 360-Degree Leaders – Practice to Lead Across”. It is “Follow me, I will walk with you”. In order to make it to the next level of leadership, a leader must be able to lead other leaders who are not just below them, but also those above and alongside them. He presents 7 principles that are needed to be mastered in order to lead across. They are Understand, Practice and Complete the Leadership Loop, Being a Friend, Avoiding Office Politics, Expanding Your Circle of Acquaintances , Let the Best ideas win and Not to pretend you are prefect to name a few. He writes that a leader must be passionate about his work and have the integrity to stand up for his ideas, but also must know when to compromise.

In the fifth section John writes about “The Principles of 360-Degree Leaders – Practicing to Lead Down”. “Follow me and I’ll add value to you”. In this section John presents various principles like “Walking slowly through the halls”. John emphasizes that “Relationship building is always the foundation of an effective leader.” Leaders who ignore relational aspect of leadership tend to rely on their position instead. True good leaders are competent, but they are also intentionally connected to the people they lead. John also presents additional principles like Develop each team member as a person, Place people in their strength zone, Model the behavior you desire and Transfer the Vision.

In the sixth section John writes about the value of the 360 Degree leaders in the organization which include values like Leaders are needed at every level of the organization, Good leaders at the middle make better leaders at the top and 360-degree leaders possesses qualities that every organization needs.

At the end of the book there is a 360 Degree Leader workshop for every section of the book with various challenges that can help the reader to apply these principles which can assist their growth in order to go to the next level as a 360-Degree Leader.

Overall this book is excellently written by John Maxwell. I am sincerely thankful to John for this wonderful resource. Our influence is greater than we know. I think that practicing these disciplines of 360 Degree leadership the opportunities will be endless for any person in any organization both professionally and personally.

I strongly recommend this book and give it a Five Star Rating.


This is a quick guide to professional development that can be applied to probably any career. It was recommended by the Adjutant General for the OH Guard which is why I read it and I felt like it really applied to both my military career and my civilian career. This book is filled with good tips and advice for being a good leader.

Heder Dalazoana

John Maxwell had a lot of attention with the mid-level leadership. This book shows the importance of leadership in everyday situations and not just from top to bottom.

Wulf James