The 5 Levels Of Leadership

There is so much written about Leadership and from my point of view, Leadership is only demonstrated through action, not words. The world is desperate for true leaders. Those who lead with conviction, strengthen communities with passion, with a vision, and can communicate the path and inspire.

In my view, there is no better authority than John Maxwell on the subject so I thought I would share with you at a high level his 5 Levels Of Leadership and you can determine which level you are at and what it takes to reach the top.

Level 1 – Position

The position is the lowest level of leadership. It is entry-level. The only influence a positional leader has is that which comes with the job title. People follow because they have to, not because they want to or feel compelled to.

Positional leadership is based on the authority that the position has. Nothing is wrong with having a leadership position. This is where it all starts. There is a huge problem if a person uses their position of leadership to get people to follow them. In other words “I am the leader, so you will do what I say”! Position is a very poor substitute for influence.

Positional leaders often rely on the regiment, strict rules and regulations, and policies to control their people. And their people will often only follow them within the stated boundaries of their control. There is very rarely extra effort given by the team.

You could safely say that positional leaders remain bosses, they are not true leaders, as they do not influence others, rather control them. Anyone can be appointed to a leadership position; it is what they do beyond this that counts.

Level 2 – Permission

Level 2 Leadership is based entirely on relationships. When you reach level 2, people will follow you because they want to, not because they have to. When you genuinely like people, treat them as individuals and understand their strengths, you can begin to develop influence with them. You start to develop trust and this is when the leadership environment can take a big leap forward for you.

For Level 2 leaders the key is getting to know your people, understanding them, and working out the best way to build a relationship with them. This is what true leaders do. They understand the time they invest in this will bring them huge rewards in the near future.

There is of course a balancing act that needs to be played out here. Level 2 is about connecting with people and being able to have the right conversations at the right time. Including the hard conversation that so many leaders put on the back burner to the detriment of the employee and the organization and indeed themselves.

Many leaders can be tempted to stop at level 2 believing that once they have great relationships with their people, once they have grown towards each other, they have done enough. People are speaking favorably about them and things are going well. The next challenge that will take us into Level 3 is about getting people to work for you. It’s one thing to have a great working environment, it’s another to get things done!

Level 3 – Leadership Production

The production level is what really separates leaders from those who merely occupy leadership positions. Good leaders make things happen. They get results. They have a significant impact on an organization and the people within it. Not only are they productive but they get the best out of those who work for them. This is the level that gives leaders more credibility, influence, and confidence.

Level 3 leadership creates momentum. One of the dangers of achieving Level 2 leadership is the temptation to stop there. Good leaders don’t just want to create a pleasant working environment, they know they need to produce. And when they produce, work gets done, morale goes up, profits improve, staff turnover goes down and goals are achieved.

Level 3 leaders are a great model and are walking and talking example of productivity and inspiring productivity through others. Leading and influencing others can become fun on this level. When you are being successful, it’s like the saying goes, success breeds success. It’s contagious.

The challenge, however, for Level 3 leaders is to keep the momentum and the culture going, especially when things get tough. The weight of creating results can weigh heavily on a leader, and it can also mean some very hard decisions need to be made. Hence, the importance of Level 2 leadership and building on this.

Leading a productive team is quite an achievement. Achieving goals can be very rewarding. So what is a higher level of leadership than leading a team that is producing and contributing to the bottom line? It’s creating leaders to lead with you and what’s next.

Level 4 – People Development

Leaders become great because of their ability to empower others. That is what leaders do when they reach Level 4. They use their position (level 1), relationships (level 2), and ability to achieve results (level 3) to invest in their people. In doing this, they are developing leaders in their own right. Leaders are developing leaders.

You may have heard of the saying, you are only as good as your people. Or a business is only as good as its people. This is so true. Your people are your power in business and any astute business leader will understand this, remove their ego, and ensure they are doing their best to develop their successors. They look at every person to gauge his or her potential to grow and lead. This practice of developing and growing people compound the positives within an organization because bringing the best out of an individual is often the catalyst for bringing the best out in a team.