John Maxwell is a well-known author that wrote about the 5 levels of leadership, and how to ascend to greater responsibility and greater knowledge. This book helps leaders understand each level, and gives every leader a compass to see where they need to grow.

Here are the summaries of the five levels of leadership below:

Level 1: Position – People follow you because they have to. This represents the beginning of everyone’s leadership journal. Leadership is only granted because you receive a job title. You have authority but not influence and this is the starting point. The upside is that you’ve been given the job because you deserve it, and it allows you to think of what kind of leader you want to be. The downside is it is misleading and you won’t get the best out of your team. Make the most of this position by not pushing people and not expecting people to come to you. In order to get to the next level, you have to understand that your job title isn’t important and people are your most valuable asset. Good leaders include others and you don’t need to have every answer.

Level 2: Permission – People follow you because they want to and the people know they matter. People permit you to lead them because your relationships grow along with trust. People know that matter and work is more enjoyable when everyone gets on board. This is where good relationships are formed which increases energy and better decision making is had. The downsides including leaving yourself open to be taken advantage of which can make you seem like a weak leader. This will be frustrating. This level means that you have to learn how to gain peoples permission. Here you need to focus on the people rather than tasks and you’ll have to treat others as you want to be treated. Care for your team with praise and candor. You goal is to take your people somewhere and influence them to do their best.

Level 3: Production – People follow you because of what you have done for the organization and this level is about delivering results. When you deliver excellent results, your leadership intensifies. You become a change agent for the organization and this separates you from simply holding a leadership position to being a true leader. The more results you deliver, the more credible you become. You need to build momentum and set a standard of excellence so that people want to be on your team. There is a bigger weight of responsibility here and you can think you are a better leader than you are. It is important to encourage people to work together harmoniously by creating a clear vision and focusing on your strengths. Make sure the focus is on where you can bring in the highest return and biggest results. Value your followers by developing their growth.

Level 4: People Development – People follow you because of what you have done for them. Leaders reproduce results too and the entire organization rises to a higher level. When you focus on growth, it gives you space to work on bigger things. It is very rewarding to see people produce results. Make sure you recruit only the best and place people into the right positions. You can empower and coach people so they can succeed. Your goal should be creating other leaders by teaching and coaching.

Level 5: Pinnacle – People follow you because of who you are and what you represent, and not many people make it to this level. This is hard but success results in a level 5 organization, which is successful and high performing. The upside gives your leadership reach and creates a legacy within the organization. You can forget that there is always more to learn at this level, but you have to work hard to focus on the vision of the company.

Here are 10 insights that can help you make more sense of moving up:

  1. You build on the previous level.
  2. Leadership is dynamic.
  3. The higher you go, the easier it becomes to lead.
  4. There are no shortcuts.
  5. Moving up takes time, but moving down can happen quickly.
  6. The higher you go, the greater the returns.
  7. Moving to the next level always requires growth.
  8. Not getting to the next level limits you and your team.
  9. You rarely stay at the same level when you change position or organization.
  10. You cannot climb the levels alone.

What level leader are you at today? How do you continue to growth in your career?

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