This is the first book review I have ever written before actually finishing the book. Currently, I am little over 1/2 the way through.
He starts the book with the following observation:
“The reality is that 99 percent of all leadership occurs not from the top but from the middle of an organization. Usually, an organization has only one person who is the leader. So what do you do if you are not that one person?”
This grabbed my attention. I have read several leadership books, some Christian and some “secular,” over the past 15 years. Maxwell is right. It seems that most books are geared to the person in charge. But I am not. Yet, I want to have a significant impact on the organization I am a part of as well as the people around me. So where do I go? What do I read?
Chapter by chapter, Maxwell lays out principles, encouragement, attitude checks, challenges, stories, emotional advice, reminders, and vision for being the leader that, though in the middle, doesn’t get lost in translation. Here is a sample of a few of the chapter titles:
Myth #2 – The Destination Myth: “When I get to the top, then I’ll learn to lead.”
Myth #6 – The Potential Myth: “I can’t reach my potential if I’m not the top leader.”
Challenge #4 – The Ego Challenge: You’re Often Hidden in the Middle
Section 3 is a collection of chapters dealing with how you can influence those above you.
Section 4 is a group of chapters dealing with how to lead others across from you, on the same “authority” level as you in the organization.
Section 5 is a group of chapters about how to lead people below you in an effective manner.
This is an overall snapshot. I use my words carefully, so I hope you will take what I am about to say seriously: This book has challenged my attitude, my effort, my heart toward authority, my selfishness, and many other things that have the tragic potential of keeping me from giving my best.
Are you waiting till you are a senior pastor to give your all?
Are you waiting till you own a business to have a good attitude?
Are you waiting till you have more people under you and than over before you embrace authority?
Are you waiting till a vision is your own before you make huge to see it come to pass?
Are you waiting till you are in a position where you will receive a ton of credit to really take ownership of a vision?
Do you have to be on top of an organization to care?
Jesus needs middlemen like the seven chose in the Book of Acts. Luke recorded that there were “seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3) who were appointed over taking care of widows and food distribution (among other duties) so that the higher-up leaders could stay focused on “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).
If not being on top of an organization is keeping you from serving/working with all of you heart, then you would be a horrible top leader. Here is the question I always ask myself, “Am I being the middleman I would want on my staff if I was the senior leader?”