Take Your Leadership to the Next Level
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

In 2011, John Maxwell released one of his bestselling books The Five Levels of Leadership. If you asked John about the book, he would tell you that it started as “The Five Levels of Influence.” His publisher got involved, and the name was changed. Leadership is influencing, plain and simple. So, what level are you at? John identifies the levels as follows:

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

Over my many years in manufacturing, I am sorry to say that I have seen very few leaders move beyond level three leadership. Those who did were clearly exceptional and their organizations flourished because of that. I believe that most leaders want to do the best job they can, but they simply don’t understand the principles and practices needed to progress to a higher level of influence. Over the next few weeks, I will highlight these five levels.

Position – This is the first level of leadership. At this level, you have been given a leadership-related title and at least for a short period of time people will follow simply because of your position. We need to realize that at this level we have simply been invited to the leadership table.  If we continue to rely on our position for influencing others, we end up working very hard at maintaining that position rather than building relationships with our team. We begin to distrust our team, assuming they will take advantage of the organization and us whenever possible. A Us and Them mentality develops. In an effort to make ourselves look better we resort to putting others down through hurtful comments, criticism, and micro-managing.  T.S. Elliot put it best when he wrote “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They do not mean to do harm; they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

The results of positional leadership become very evident. The positional leader gets the bear minimum from their team. They work because they have to, and as soon as they get a way out, they leave. Those who stay feel forced, trapped, and will rely on their rights. They will watch the clock and are the first out the door. The best a positional leader can hope for is a disengaged worker. Someone who shows up every day, does what they are required to do, and not an ounce more. The good news is you don’t have to stay at a level one leader. You can grow. You don’t need to stay a Positional Leader.

Join Marisa and me on The Next Page podcast when we talk about the skill and tools needed to move up the leadership ladder.

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