by Michael Holland    

I recently finished John Maxwell’s, The 5 Levels of Leadership.  I’m struck by the simplicity and power he reveals in his model for describing the role leaders attempt to play.  The simplicity of the 5 Levels – Position, Permission, Production, People Development, and Pinnacle – is a basic path through increase of power and influence.  However, Maxwell’s depth comes from painting a shift in paradigm with regard to how power and influence are wielded.  Most intriguing for me is the movement from the 3rd Level, Production, a level revealing leaders making things happen and separating themselves from the pack with high production through a team or teams, to Level 4, a level summarized as developing leaders into leaders who can lead others.

Take a moment and re-read the last 8 words: developing leaders into leaders who can lead others.  Think about the skill, maturity, and emotional intelligence gap which exists from leading teams to produce to developing leaders to lead.  Becoming a great leader will require you to identify, grow, equip, and support leaders.

Ultimately, you lead well not through your perceived power, but through empowering others – other leaders as well as employees – who become successful because of the leadership you model.

Here’s a rundown of Maxwell’s 5 Levels:

Level 1:  Position – It’s a great place to visit, but you won’t want to stay there.

Level 2:  Permission – You can’t lead people until you like people

Level 3:  Production – Making things happen separates real leaders from wannabes

Level 4:  People Development – Helping individual leaders grow extends your influence and impact

Level 5:  Pinnacle – The highest leadership accomplishment is developing other leaders to Level 4