The 5 Levels of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

A woman named Brandy Holden recommended this book to a group of us at a local seminar. I recommend it to everyone, regardless of the career position you hold. John Maxwell’s writing technique is so easy to follow and understand and I’ve also purchased his book ‘Winning with People.’ In the 5 Levels of Leadership he writes, “The subject of leadership is inexhaustible. Why? Because everything rises and falls on leadership. If you want to make a positive impact on the world, learning to lead better will help you do it.” Here are my takeaways…

Leadership is a process, not a position. The challenge of leadership is to create change and facilitate growth. Those require movement, which is inherent in moving up from one level of leadership to the next.

  1. Level 1 Position- This is very self-explanatory. People follow the Level 1s because of their position. Maybe that’s in management. These people rely on rules and regulations to control the people who follow. When they ask tasks of others, they may only get bare minimum results.
  2. Level 2 Permission- People follow these leaders because they want to. When you like people and treat them with value, you begin to develop an influence on people where you inspire them to want to follow you. You can like people without leading them, but you cannot lead people well without liking them.
  3. Level 3 Production- These leaders don’t just create a pleasant working environment, they get things done! Level 3 is based on results. In the production level, leaders gain influence and credibility based on what they have accomplished. Work gets done, morale improves, profits go up, turnover decreases, and goals are achieved.
  4. Level 4 People Development- Leaders who have the strong ability to empower others. They use their abilities to invest in their followers to develop THEM into leaders. This is known as leadership reproduction. In level 4, teamwork goes to a very high level because the high investment in people deepens relationships and helps people to know one another better (this strengthens loyalty). People follow level 4 leaders because of the impact they’ve had on them personally, creating lifelong relationships.
  5. Level 5 Pinnacle- Level 5 requires not only effort, but a high level of talent and skill. These leaders develop people into level 4 leaders. They create legacy in what they do and people follow them because of what they represent.

It’s important to know that you never leave a level behind once you’ve achieved the next, you only build upon it. To grow to a new level, the leader takes risks, and each level higher typically requires a greater risk. The good news is that every risk at a higher level is a natural extension of the skills the leader has by then developed. People may say, “wow, he really stepped out and took a big risk.” But those observers may not see the growth that has been occuring inside of that leader.

This book offers an assesment to find out what level you’re currently at. It also offers detailed insight on how to climb to the level you desire. It’s important to ask yourself when deciding what level to achieve what legacy you’d like to leave behind, and what kind of impact do you want to make on others?

Thanks for reading! -Laura

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