09 May, 2012

The 360 degree leader

I picked this book up from BookSneeze because I find myself inching into leadership roles as well as finding that I need to figure out how to better work with leaders above me. I've never read a book on leadership before, so it was a little bit of a culture shock. Missionaries seem to work in a different way to a company. I'm tempted to say, less professional, but I think that is the wrong scale to measure us by. More on that another time. Nevertheless, there were many things to learn from this book.

360 degree leader is the concept that no matter where you are positioned in an organisation, you can lead. You can lead people below you, people who are the same level as you, and even people who are your leaders. Interesting concept!

It was the "leading up" principles that intrigued me most. The author tells us that the starting place is to lead ourselves well. This includes managing your time, emotions, priorities, energy, thinking, words, and personal life well. The author rightly says that if you can't lead yourself well then you generally have no credibility with others.

Then you need to

  • lighten your leaders load by doing your own job well
  • find solutions to problems you find rather than just going to the leader for a solution 
  • succeed with difficult people
  • admit faults but never make excuses 
  • understand your leader's personality
  • earn your leader's trust, learn to work with your leader's weaknesses 
  • know when to push and when to back off etc.

This book is so full of phrases that are great principles that it is difficult to give you a good overall impression of the book. What I've included here is just a small sample of the content.

He also talks about leading across, that requires

  • taking an interest in people, respecting and caring for them
  • healthy competition, I wonder if this is where Christians don't seem to have the same edge that a secular company does. It is like working in a volunteer organisation. We're all paid the same, no one is shooting for the top, therefore sometimes there is a lack of striving for excellence, I think
  • avoid in-house politics
  • expand your circle of acquaintances, especially beyond your personal prejudices: we've noticed that missionaries are often too busy doing their work to do this very much amongst other missionaries.
Leading down seems the most obvious, but even in this section I learnt some things
  • slow down – leaders are often very quick mentally and tend to move and think quickly. The further away you move from the top, the slower people tend to process information and make decisions. To lead down, you must slow down to match other people's speed.
  • have a healthy balance of personal and professional interest. It can be difficult to find a good balance in this area. I've known leaders who bring too much personal into the situation and make it difficult to get business done, but others who have a very clear line that prohibits personal being a part of work at all and makes it hard to get to know them.
  • give reward for results. This is a challenge in missionary circles too, where we're doing things with minimal expense. Praise is a big key, I believe, in these circumstances.
He wrote that the qualities of a 360 degree leader are these:
  • adaptability - quickly adjusts to change
  • discernment - understands the read issues
  • perspective - sees beyond their own vantage point
  • communication - links to all levels of the organisation
  • security - finds identity in self, not position
  • servanthood - does whatever it takes
  • resourcefulness - finds creative ways to make things happen
  • maturity - puts the team before self
  • endurance - remains consistent in character and competence over the long haul
  • countability - can be counted on when it counts
So, it surprises me in some ways, that though I've never considered myself a leader, I've really been leading all along. Rarely have I held a position that puts me in a supervisory position (though as a mum, I've been a leader in that capacity for nearly 13 years now).

This book was well worth a read. I'll be keeping it on my shelf for further reference, it is so packed with good principles and advice that it is hard to take it in in just one reading.

This is another review for http://booksneeze.com/ 

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Bookshttp://BookSneeze.com. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

1 comment:

Paul Netercott said...

Good review Wendy!