Take a Spin! When Leadership Goes 360

by Inspire Teams

Leadership may sometimes seem to be a one-way, down route but you should never lose sight of 360-degree leadership skills.

The 360-degree leader, as explained by John C. Maxwell, understands leadership as related more to attitudes than to a specific role within an organization. The powerful underlying idea here is that you don’t need to be a senior executive to make an impact in your team and organization.

Ninety-nine percent of all leadership occurs not from the top but from the middle of an organization

John C. Maxwell

To influence and bring value at all levels of an organization, Maxwell identifies three leadership skills:


With this focus of leadership, you influence more senior leaders. You may lighten the leader’s load by willing to take up different tasks and knowing when to push forward and when to back off. Success here means that leaders above trust and rely on you, in addition to seeking advice from you.

Among others, here are three principles that lead-up leaders practice:

  • Listen: listening to people helps you find out what is important to them; you can identify priorities, vision, interests, and personality. This way you can better support your leaders’ vision, share their enthusiasm, and earn their trust.
  • Respect leaders’ time: when you prepare before meeting with your leader, you are better suited to bring resources, ideas, or opportunities, and contribute to the conversation in a positive manner. This way, you get to the bottom line quicker.
  • Keep learning: constant learning and growing enhances your potential to move forward. “No matter how much it costs you to keep growing and learning, the cost of doing nothing is greater,” says Maxwell.


With this focus of leadership skill, you help peers achieve positive results, garner mutual respect and maintain credibility.

Some of the principles that lead-across leader practice are:

  • Completing projects with peers: instead of competing with peers, you complete projects with them, combining strengths that complement each other.
  • Standing up for what is right: with integrity and consistency, you avoid office politics, staying away from gossip and petty arguments.
  • Admitting faults: trying hard to make others think you are perfect is not a winning strategy, it is more effective to put pride away, and be open to learn from others. “Instead of impressing others, let them impress you,” says Maxwell.


With this focus of leadership, you take the stance of  a strong ‘model’ in order to help people realize their own potential.   

The lead-down leader practices many positive principles, including:

  • Treating people with dignity: you get more out of people when you can see who they can become and show respect for them. People to rise to their leader’s expectations when they feel recognized, respected and encouraged.
  • Finding people’s strengths: you can determine each employee’s strengths, so you assign them the right job and identify the skills they need to be a success. This way you also know what type of training to provide, to equip your subordinates to win.
  • Inspiring people: you know how to interpret and transfer your vision, in a way that inspires and lead people in the right direction. When the vision is clear, everyone maintains the focus, understands their purpose and keeps motivated with passion.


By developing these three types of 360-degree leadership skills, you can work well with: supervisors, inspiring trust; peers, achieving great teamwork; and subordinates, directing and motivating them. This way, you can lead from anywhere in your organization.

In this short video, Maxwell explains why he decided to write about the 360-degree leadership.

Managers work with processes while leaders work with people

John C. Maxwell

To learn more about these leadership skills, read our previous articles:


You can also check Maxwell’s previous book, 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

For simple, hands on exercises on leadership, download our worksheet Agile Leadership.

We encourage you to understand that leadership is not about knowing but experiencing and learning about your unique leadership style that fosters your own strengths and grow your team’s abilities to excel at their contribution at work. Therefore, we are writing about a few leadership related theories, approaches and techniques that may be useful to you.

Our leadership topics are a free selection by us of authors and streams of theory, without having any commercial or affiliate biases. Hopefully, our articles will inspire you to check out new stuff, or re-visit and value some of the interventions you may have already implemented.

If you find yourself with a few challenges in leading your career, your organization or your team, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Check our online assessment, and book a free coaching call to get clarity on where to start. 

Change starts with taking action!




Executive Coach. Consultant. Trainer. Facilitator.


Contact us

Let's keep in touch!

9 + 13 =

Share This