Level 2 – Listen, Observe, and Prepare for What’s Next
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Last week I introduced John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership, and we discussed level 1, Position. This week I would like to take a look at level 2, Permission.

5 – The Pinnacle
4 – People Development
3 – Production
2 – Permission
1 – Position

At this level, we are getting better, and people actually start to follow us. They aren’t just doing what they “must” do; they want to follow us. We have started to establish relationships. We are a supervisor that people like, and it feels good. We have learned a fundamental truth, relationships with people are the foundation of leadership.

Level 2 leaders listen well. When we were at level 1, we listened with the intent to respond. Now, as a level two leader, we listen with the intent to understand and learn. As Dr. Stephen Covey said in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Listening is one of the most important tools we have, and sadly one of the least used.

Level 2 Leaders have learned to observe. In one of my early experiences with John Maxwell, I remember him saying “walk slowly through the crowd.” I am a person who seems to be in a hurry all the time. Taking a slow or leisurely walk is almost torture. When I heard John say those five words, it hit me like a ton of bricks (I guess that proves what level I was spending most of my time at). I was missing so much because I was rushing through life with great purpose but very little observation. To help myself combat that tendency, I put a sign next to my office door that simply said SLOW DOWN.

Before we begin to think Level 2 Leaders are perfect, let’s look at the challenges we face at this level.

  • Often a permission leader is viewed as too tolerant or soft. Those on their team who might be high achievers often get frustrated because their leader appears to be more focused on how people feel than what they are actually accomplishing.
  • Because of a desire to maintain the relationship and be liked, the permission leader is often taken advantage of.
  • Permission leaders can lose sight of the goal and view relationships as a metric of success.

Level 2 sounds like a good place to be as a leader, but if we stay there, we will never reach our potential.  Join Marisa and me on The Next Page podcast when we talk about the skills and tools needed to move up to level 3 leadership.

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