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The Five Levels of Leadership

I really like John Maxwell’s model for levels of leadership:


Source: httpss://

Level 1: Position (Right) – People follow you because they have to. But the position does not make the leader – instead the leader makes the position. Unless you fill a position with content and emotions you remain what they call an “empty suit”. At level 1, leaders often ask the question: “Why am I not getting the best out of my team?”. At this level you get the very least amount of energy form your employees. The deal is time for money.

Level 2: Permission (Relationships) – People follow you because they want to. Relationships are the foundation of leadership. At level 2, the leaders listens well, observes the people and learns. They adopt a servant leadership style.
You get from level 1 to level 2 by connecting to people and starting to like each other.

Level 3: Production (Results) – You have become effective as a leader and you help the bottom line. People follow you because of your contribution. You produce by example. You act as a tour guide instead of a travel agent who has never seen the place. You start to attract people. We attract who we are, not who we want though. At this level you create momentum which by itself will take care of solving about 80% of all problems and you can focus on the rest.

Stufe 4: People Development (Reproduction) – People follow you because you pass on your competencies – because you invest in them. You grow your company by growing people and it starts with recruitment: have a clear picture of what you are looking for and make no compromise! Next, discover what people are good at – observe and watch. Finally you enable your employees to pass on their competencies to other. This step has a clear sequence:

  1. I do it
  2. I do it and you are with me
  3. You do it and I’m with you
  4. You do it
  5. You do it and someone else is with you

Stufe 5: Pinnacle (Respect) – People follow you because of what you have done, are fascinated by your charisma and admire you.

The level of leadership can be different with different people. Leadership never stops – it is an always ongoing process. The leadership level can go up and it also can go down (usually much faster).

Managers are used to solve problems. Momentum is a leaders best friend. The engagement of the employees increases when the level of leadership goes up and the true measure of leadership is influence.

The following video by John Maxwell presents a great summary of this model:


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