As our team studied and practiced growing our leadership skills, we’ve learned a key concept that John Maxwell describes in what he calls a “360-degree leader.” The 360-degree leader is one who may not have a title or position of authority, yet exerts positive influence on others by adding value to them.
Even though this person works in the middle of the pack, they are a true leader. Why? As John says, “Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.”
When organizations employ and train leaders at all levels, they succeed, move faster, go father, and their influence grows exponentially. However, this isn’t always the case. Our team recently witnessed an unusual example of a team that has many 360-degree leaders, but lacks one to occupy a key role.
Lifting the Leader
When two of our team members entered a client’s building, they were greeted by name and welcomed with smiles. The staff was more than courteous: they served our team proactively and assured us that our work was their priority. They took initiative to address our team’s needs and checked in with them regularly throughout the day.
In contrast, the manager failed to acknowledge our team members when they arrived, and never left her office to speak with them. At the end of the day, our team had to find the manager to say that they were leaving, because the manager never came to check on their progress. In their brief meeting, the manager seemed preoccupied and stated how busy she had been that day.
Leaders can come from anywhere, and the remarkable thing about this organization is its culture that encourages 360-degree leaders, despite its leader failing to model such skills.
No matter where you find yourself, whether on a team without a strong leader or among team members who don’t lead where they are, you can choose to influence others positively. The difference you make can inspire everyone around you.