Levels of Leadership

I was able to participate in the Chick-fil-a Leadercast back in May 2011. John Maxwell opened the conference and talked about his new book that is coming out this fall, 2011, on the Levels of Leadership. I am a note-taker, so here are the insights I gained from Maxwell’s talk:

Maxwell has said before that everything rises and falls on leadership, and that leadership is defined as influence. Since we all have influence on other people (some more than others) we are all in essence, leaders. He emphasized that leadership is not a noun, it is a verb, it is active. Here are the five levels of leadership:

1) The Position Level: this has to do with rights. People follow because they have to; they follow because that person is the boss. The positive part is that you are able to shape and define your leadership skills. The negative is that people give you the least amount of effort. It is tough being in a position where people don’t want to follow you or like you. On this level, clearing the desk at the end of the day is the best part of the job. Do your people back into their parking space so they can get away quicker? Do people prepared to leave the office on company time (visit, rest room, change shoes)?

2) The Permission Level: this level deals with relationships. People follow you because they want to; they like you. It is much easier to lead when people actually like you. There are three good things about the leader in this level: He listens well, observes well and learns with an attitude of servanthood.

3) The Production Level: this level has to do with results and effectiveness. This leader will produce by example because people do what people see. Travel agents send people all over the world, where they have not personally been; a tour guide brings people with them. The law of magnetism tells us that we attract who we are, not who we want. Maxwell challenges us to develop momentum rather than just solve problems. Momentum solves problems. Hitting a five foot thick wall with momentum is better than a one inch wall without it.

4) The People Development Level: this is about recruiting. Leaders recognize that their greatest asset is their people. If you grow your people, you will grow your company. Development of personhood is better than accomplishment of the task. I can be a better coach when I have better players. It’s about getting the right people on the bus, then having the right people (recruiting) in the right seats on the bus (position). Successful people know their strengths; successful leaders know the strengths of others. Imagine a team of first string players, all playing in new positions, taking on a team of second string players in their positions. The right person, position and skills equal equipping. You do it, get someone to do it with you, you watch them do it on their own.

5) The Pinnacle Level: this level has to do with respect. This leader has done it so long and so well that people will follow you because of who you are and what you have done.

The truth is that we are not always on the same level all the time. With some people you are on one level and with others you are on a higher level. One key is that higher levels require higher commitment.

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