I would recommend John C. Maxwell’s “The 360-Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence From Anywhere in the Organization.” I was fortunate enough to be provided a copy in a special re-release directly from the publisher for review purposes. You can purchase a paperback copy for under $12 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/360-Degree-Leader-Developing-Organization/dp/1400203597/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319656151&sr=8-1) or directly from the publisher at http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=9781400203598.
My favorite section was on “They Myths of Leading From the Middle of an Organization.”
1. The Position Myth: I can’t lead if I am not at the top
2. The Destination Myth: When I get to the top, then I’ll learn to lead
3. The Influence Myth: If I were on top, then people would follow me
4. The Inexperience Myth: When I get on top, I’ll be in control
5. The Freedom Myth: When I get to the top, I’ll no longer be limited
6. The Potential Myth: I can’t reach my potential if I’m not the top leader
7. The All-or-Nothing Myth: If I can’t get to the top, then I won’t try to lead (22)
The “inexperience myth” hit me the hardest. Effective leaders actually give away control as they gain influence and gain influence as they give away control. There is so much that is out of your hands anyways – we might as well embrace it. Maybe the limitations of an organization are more often a reflection of our own limitations? Maybe there are people who can do what we are trying to do at a high (or even higher level)? I am not saying that we shouldn’t be held accountable for what happens…we must always answer for the results and consequences. However, to think that if we always were able to do what we wanted that everything would turn out exactly as we hoped? Are we thinking of ourselves higher than we ought?
Maxwell suggests, “In leadership – no matter where you are in an organization – the bottom line is always influence (13).
That being said, my one frustration with Maxwell’s resources often is that I feel that much of the content has appeared in his other works. It almost gets to the point that if you have read three to four of his works that you have read them all. He needs to be intentional in using new information.
For more on 360-Degree leadership (influencing others no matter where you are in the organization), I would recommend Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson’s “Leading from the Second Chair.” This work comes at the issues from both angles – from the one who sits in the first and second chair. Great resource.
Official Book Description: New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell shows anyone how to lead, regardless of their level in any organization. In his nearly thirty years of teaching leadership, John Maxwell has encountered this question again and again: How do I apply leadership principles if I’m not the boss? It’s a valid question that Maxwell answers in The 360 Degree Leader.
You don’t have to be the main leader, asserts Maxwell, to make significant impact in your organization. Good leaders are not only capable of leading their followers but are also adept at leading their superiors and their peers. Debunking myths and shedding light on the challenges, John Maxwell offers specific principles for Leading Down, Leading Up, and Leading Across. 360-Degree Leaders can lead effectively, regardless of their position in an organization. By applying Maxwell’s principles, you can expand your influence and ultimately be a more valuable team member.