The 5 Levels of Leadership was written by John C. Maxwell and helps you answer a couple of fundamental questions about leadership.
Namely, where are you as a leader right now, how do you get to the next level, and where should you ultimately aim to be as a leader?
Leadership isn’t a position you hold; it’s a journey and a process. Just because you have the word “manager” in your job title, you’re not automatically a great leader.
Leadership is about dealing with people, and the dynamics between those people, which means that the better you can influence people, the higher your leadership ability. The book provides a roadmap to get your leadership from where you are now to where you want to be.
The book begins by encouraging you to determine which of the 5 Levels of Leadership you are currently at. It provides a four-step process to help you to do this.
You can assess yourself by following this link.
John C. Maxwell is a leadership expert, speaker, minister, and author who has sold over 20 million copies of his books worldwide.
In 2014 Inc. Magazine named him the #1 management and leadership expert worldwide.
The 5 Levels of Leadership are shown in the following diagram.
Here is a very brief overview of each of the 5 Levels of Leadership.
Everyone starts their leadership journey at level one. The 5 Levels of Leadership provides a process to follow to grow as a leader, with the ultimate aim of making it to level five.
The book provides ten insights that can help you make more sense of the interplay between the levels.
Let’s move on and examine each of the 5 Levels of Leadership in some more detail.
Position is the very first level of the 5 Levels of Leadership, and it represents the beginning of everyone’s leadership journey. Leadership at this level is granted because you receive a job title, but you haven’t yet built the influence to command respect from colleagues, either inside of or outside of your team.
While you have authority over your team, at level 1 you don’t wield any real influence over them so its hard to get the most out of them. Your team does what you tell them because they have to.
At level 1, you might be the boss, but you aren’t yet a leader. As such, it’s important not to see being given a management job title as your goal. Instead, try to see it as your starting point.
Some of the upsides of becoming a level 1 leader include:
To learn more about these laws, you will need to purchase the book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, also written by Maxwell.
Before you can get to the next level, you must upgrade your beliefs:
On this level of the 5 Levels of Leadership, your team follows you because they want to. You listen to your people and they, in return, listen to you.
Leaders on this level make people know that they matter. They make each member of their team feel important.
On this level, people want to work for you because they feel liked, valued, included, and trusted. Because of your strong relationships, people permit you to lead them.
As your relationships grow, so does trust, and the workplace becomes a more positive place. Lasting relationships create the foundation of Level 3.
In a nutshell, this level is all about relationships.
Some of the upsides of becoming a level 2 leader include:
This level of the 5 Levels of Leadership is about delivering results. This level separates true leaders from leaders who simply hold a position.
There is more to being a leader than getting on with people. Great leaders get results. When followers see you achieving great results, it gives them a reason to follow you. When you deliver exceptional results, your leadership intensifies.
It’s on level 3 that influencing others can become fun. This is the first level where a leader can become a change agent: tackle thorny issues, big projects, and take their followers to the next level.
A history of achieving results combined with excellent relationships enables you to move your team towards the organization’s vision.
Some of the upsides of becoming a level 3 leader include:
At this level of the 5 Levels of Leadership, leaders change from focusing on delivering results to developing people. Leaders at this level reproduce themselves.
Leaders at this level reproduce and grow their influence as they transform followers into leaders in their own right. As the unique strengths of each new leader are unleashed, the entire organization rises to a higher level.
This level is all about reproduction.
Some of the upsides of becoming a level 4 leader include:
The highest level of the 5 Levels of Leadership is level 5. Maxwell argues that not many people make it to this level and those that do are naturally gifted.
Level 5 leaders develop their followers into level 4 leaders.
Developing leaders who can lead and not just follow is hard. It takes great skill, judgment, and commitment. But if you succeed, you will create a level 5 organization: an organization that is functioning at an extraordinarily high level.
Some of the upsides of becoming a level 5 leader include:
Sometimes leadership books can read like a giant recipe, listing a multitude of things that you need to do and believe to consider yourself a great leader.
One of the things I really liked about this book is that it doesn’t do that. It helps you to figure out where you are right now as a leader and then gives you some advice to help you get to the next level, no matter what level you’re on right now.
In my opinion, it’s a good, detailed, and practical book which makes intuitive sense. However, it isn’t as far as I know backed up by research. Nevertheless, I’d still rate this book as a must-read for aspiring leaders and established leaders alike, and score it 9 out of 10.
To summarize the 5 Levels of Leadership, leadership is about growth in everything you do and everyone you interact with. It’s a lifelong, challenging journey that can be immensely rewarding. The book provides a practical roadmap of how to get from where you are as a leader currently to where you want to be. You just need the courage to embrace it.
Trait Theory of Leadership
Three Levels of Leadership Model
Blake Mouton Managerial Grid
Bureaucratic Theory (Max Weber)
Path-Goal Theory of Leadership
Situational Leadership Model
Fiedler’s Contingency Theory of Leadership