John Maxwell on Leadership

Taking Your Leadership Out of the Office


Over the past few weeks, I’ve written to you about the concepts of leading up, leading across, and leading down. I hope you’ll explore the whole series, if you haven’t already. All of these ideas are explored in my book The 360° Leader, and I’ve been blown away by so many of the comments left on the posts. So much so that I wanted to encourage you as a 360° leader one more time.

And I’m especially excited about this week’s post because I think it has the potential to help you transform your life – and the lives of those around you. In fact, this might be the most impactful post of the entire series.

So – are you ready?

Because this might just change your life.

 

As a 360° leader, in addition to leading up, across and down, you need to lead out.

Leading out means to be on the forefront of an action. Imagine a military commander leading troops into battle. Picture a team captain rallying her teammates for one last push. Leading out means extending your leadership and influence beyond your comfort zone. And it’s actually present in almost everything I write about leadership.

In fact, even though leading out isn’t explicitly stated in my book, it’s a critical component of being a 360° leader. The concept is so essential, it’s almost inseparable from the idea of leadership itself.

Now, this has all kinds of practical applications in a business or office setting. You lead out when you change the status quo. You lead out when you encourage others to follow your lead by growing and stretching themselves. You lead out when you challenge sloppy thinking, poor planning, or half-hearted effort. That’s just what a good leader does.

But that’s not what I’m encouraging you to do today. What I want you to understand is that you need to lead out in areas other than just your office.

In our modern culture, there is a leadership vacuum. We are desperate for leaders. The world needs men and women of character and integrity willing to step up to the plate and lead others well. But too often we talk about leadership as if it’s only applicable in the workplace. It’s almost like we think that people only need to be led when they’re at work – but nothing could be further from the truth! People need leadership in all aspects of their lives.

And that’s why you, the 360° leader, need to be ready to step up to the challenge. So where do you begin?

I see three areas where our society is in desperate need of fully-formed leaders:

1. Families

No matter what kind of family you have, you need to lead it well. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across a superstar business leader whose family was in shambles. And why?

Because there was no leadership at home.

I think being a leader at home is as important as being a leader at work. In fact, your home and family is probably the biggest sphere of influence you have as a leader. It’s where you will find the most teachable moments, the most opportunities for growth, and the most potential for developing other leaders who can help shape the world. It’s also the place where you can see – and savor – your greatest success.

2. Community

There are hundreds of people who live within minutes of you who struggle with life. They wonder if they have a purpose. They worry how they might pay their bills. They dream of things that could make the community stronger, if only someone would listen. To put it bluntly, there are hundreds of people in your corner of the world who are looking for a leader to help take them to the next level.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to start a non-profit organization or try to become a one-person army for doing good. In fact, it begins where all leadership begins: by valuing people. Just like you invest in the people who share your office space, look for ways to value the people you run into on a day-to-day basis near your home.

Smile at folks. Give them a friendly wave. Hold doors for people. Tip generously when you’re in a local restaurant. Make a positive impact within your community, and others will follow your lead.

3. Government

Now, I’m not going to get into politics the way most people would expect. When I talk about leading your government, I’m thinking of a few simple, yet effective ways you can influence how things work at the local, state, and national level.

The most obvious way of leading your government is by exercising your right to vote. Leadership is influence, and voting is one of the most influential things you can do. And as a good leader, you need to exercise that right. But you also have influence through your voice. You can email your representatives, make a phone call, and in some cases utilize social media to make your thoughts known to those who are elected to represent you. And you should.

After all, you wouldn’t sit by silently and watch your company struggle, would you? So why would you allow apathy to guide you when it comes to your local and national government?

Being a 360° leader is about more than just leading well in your office. It’s about being a leader in all areas of your life. It’s about looking at your home, your community and your country with a leader’s eye – seeking places where you can add value to others to help make things better. You have the potential to change so much more than the team you lead or the place you work.

You have the potential to change the world. And my hope is that you will.


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