Six Simple Ways to Help Your Leader

Hands down, my favorite book on leadership is The 360 Leader, by John Maxwell. In his book, Maxwell believes that 99% leadership comes from the middle of an organization, not from the top. The fundamental concept that Maxwell presents is that a leader must lead down, across, and up relative to their position in the organization. This enables a leader to fully understand the needs of the knowledge workers, work closely with their, and to execute the strategies that upper management establishes.

In this 3 part series, I’ll cover some basic concepts that I believe help leaders at all levels.

6 Ways That You Can Help Your Leader, Today

Summarized below are 6 simple things you can do that will immediately add value to your leader.

  1. Build a solid relationship with your leader.  Take the time to understand and get to know your leader, even if the two of you have little in common.  Find out their interests, nuggets about their personal life, even favorite foods! This will foster communication and help the two of you stay on the same page consistently.
  2. Identify and appreciate your leaders strengths.  Take the time to assess your leader’s strengths and how they impact the organization.  You may not admire or find value in those strengths, but that doesn’t matter.  You need to understand how those strengths impact the organization.
  3. Commit yourself to adding to your leaders strengths.  Working with your leader is the best path to success in an organization.  Once you know their strengths, find ways to complement and add value to them.  By leveraging your leaders strengths, you increase your ability to be a valued and successful asset to your leader.
  4. Publicly affirm you leader.  Your peers and the people you lead need to hear you affirm your leader at every opportunity.  This doesn’t mean you should compromise your principles if your leader makes a poor decision.  It means laying out the scenario for your people and commit to executing your leader’s decision.  Consistently criticizing your leader increases your frustration as well as the people you lead and eventually will eventually come back to haunt you.  As long as you remain truthful and honest, people will develop their own take on the leaders in the organization. 
  5. Ask how you can lessen your leader’s load.  Nobody wants more work, but people want to add value wherever possible.  Find ways to lessen the load your leader has to bear.  Do they constantly write a report that you could write for them?  Do they have an upcoming meeting where you could provide some information that will help them be better prepared?  Don’t be afraid to point out to your leader where you could save them some time and energy.
  6. Be prepared every time you take your leader’s time.  Everyone is pressed for time.  Your leader especially is constantly balancing how to best spend his/her time in a way that adds the most value to the organization.  Commit yourself to being prepared every time you meet with your leader.  At the start of a meeting, take 2 minutes to agree to the purpose and desired outcome from the meeting.  If you are presenting a complex scenario, anticipate ahead of time what your leader is going to ask.  Find ways to avoid meetings and instead use email or some other form of communication.  You will receive greater satisfaction in the time you spend with your leader as well as minimize wasted time for both of you.

Next up, how you can assist the leaders at the same level in the organization as yourself.


4 Responses to “Six Simple Ways to Help Your Leader”

  1. 1 helene November 20, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Great post I haven’t read this book yet. But ur summary has me thinking that I may need to.

  2. 2 Sam Davis November 20, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Wow, nice summary. I think I’ll pick up a copy of this from my local “liberry”

  1. 1 Six Simple Ways to Lead Your Peers « Geek In the Stacks Trackback on November 24, 2008 at 7:39 am
  2. 2 Five Simple Ways to Lead Your Peers « Geek In the Stacks Trackback on November 24, 2008 at 7:41 am

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My name is Greg Syferd. Here I share my thoughts, ideas, and random stuff I come across. For work, I am a Systems Manager at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. When unplugged I'm a husband/father, read books, and aspire to be a photographer.
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