More Insights Into The 5 Levels Of Leadership John Maxwell


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6. The Higher You Go, the Greater the Return


You may give more to climb to higher levels of leadership, but you get more, too. As a leader, your return on investment increases with each level. On Level 2, you earn trust and the right to lead. On Level 3, you add to the productivity of the organization. 

On Level 4, you multiply that productivity because every time you add another leader to an organization, you add all the horsepower of that leader’s team. On Level 5, the growth and productivity become exponential as you add leaders to the organization who not only lead others but alsocreate generations of leadership development that keep on producing. 

The better the leaders are in an organization, the better everyone in the organization becomes. When productivity is high, chemistry is good, morale is high, and momentum is strong, then the payoffs increase.


7. Moving Farther Up Always Requires Further Growth


Each time a leader moves up to a higher level of leadership, greater skill is required. For that reason, each step of growth requires further development on the part of the leader. 

But here’s the good news. Each level of leadership achieved functions as a platform from which the leader can grow into the next. Here’s how this works. To grow to a new level, leaders take risks. At the lower levels, the risks are smaller and more easily won. 

For example, to make the climb from Level 1 toLevel 2, leaders risk initiating relationships. When leaders getto higher levels, the risks get bigger. For example, on Level 3, leaders may rally the team to try to accomplish a lofty goal onlyto fail; that could cost the leader credibility, stop momentum, and demotivate team members. 

But here’s the good news: every risk at a higher level is a natural extension of the skillsthat leaders have by then developed. Outsiders might look at a leader and say, “Wow, he really stepped out and took a big risk.” But those observers may not see the growth that has occurred in the leader. By the time the next risk must be undertaken, the leader has grown into it.


“Growing as a leader requires a combination of intentional growth and leadership experience. 

Growing as a leader requires a combination of intentional growth and leadership experience. If people rely only on experience without intentionally learning and preparing for the next level, they won’t progress as leaders. 

On the other hand, if they only prepare mentally yet obtain no experience through risk and reward, and trial and error, then they still won’t progress. It takes both—plus some amount of talent. But you have no control over how much talent you possess. 

You control only what you do with it. You see this dynamic when athletes try to move up from the college ranks to the pros. They all have a degree of talent. What helps those who succeed are intentional growth and experience. 

The athletes who rely only on their college experience often don’t make it. And the ones who prepare mentally and physically but never get actual game experience often have the same negative outcome.

It takes both to be successful. If you possess a natural gift for leadership, you probably have a passion for growth. You like to see things build. It’s part of your wiring. Go with it. If you have a more  modest amount of talent, don’t lose hope. 

You can make up for a lot by becoming a highly intentional student of leadership, thereby making the most of every opportunity. Either way, remember that success at any level helps you to be successful at every level. So work hard to win the level you’re on now. It will prepare you for the future.


8. Not Climbing The Levels Limits You and Your People


The Law of the Lid in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership states, “Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” In short, your effectiveness in getting things done and your ability to work through others is always limited by your leadership. 

If your leadership is a 4 out of 10, then your effectiveness will be no higher than a 4. Additionally, the Law of Respect says, “People naturally follow leaders strongerthan themselves.” That means that if you remain a 4, then you will never attract and keep any leaders better than a 3! One of the burdens of leadership is that as we go, so go the people we lead. 

Reaching our potential sets an environment for others to reach theirs. When leaders stop climbing, two questions need to be asked: “Can they improve?” and “Will they improve?” Some people can’t; they’ve reached their limit. 

Others won’t. Capacity is not the problem: choice and attitude are. If people are willing to choose improvement and change their attitude, the sky is the limit.


“One of the burdens of leadership is that as we go, so go thepeople we lead. Reaching our potential sets an environment for others to reach theirs. 

Your leadership ability today is whatever it is. You can’t change the past. However, you can change the future. You have a choice concerning your leadership ability from this day forward. 

If you learn to climb the Levels of Leadership, your leadership ability will improve. And that will positively impact your overall leadership capacity. However, if you choose not to grow as a leader, you better get used to being wherever you currently are, because your situation isn’t likely to improve.


9. When You Change Positions or Organizations, You Seldom Stay at the Same Level


What happens when leaders make a job change and begin leading a new group of people? If you assumed that they stay on the same Level of Leadership, you are mistaken. 

Every time you lead different people you start the process over again. People don’t recognize you as a Level 4 People Developer when you haven’t worked with them. You have to earn that. The same goes for  Levels 3 and 2. 

You start over at Level 1. However, there is good news. If you reached Level 4 with some other group of people, you already know how to get there. And because you’ve done it before, you can move up the levels much more quickly than the previous time. 

Each time you go through the process with a new group of people, you become even more skilled at it. And after you’ve done it enough times, you won’t be discouraged by the prospect of having to repeat it with others. 

For example, for twenty-five years I led in the religious world. In that time I worked in four different organizations, and in each I had to climb the levels of leadership with the people there. 

Fortunately, in that world I was able to reach Level 4 with many people, even many who were outside of those particular organizations. However, when I started teaching leadership in the business world, everything changed. 

I started back at Level 1 with many people. I didn’t let that intimidate or discourage me. I was willing to prove myself and work my way up through the levels again. 

And now, fifteen years later, I’m enjoying the credibility I’ve earned by developing relationships, being productive in that world, and developing leaders. Positional leaders are reluctant to have to start over. 

Because they think of leadership as a destination instead of a process—a noun instead of a verb—they want to hold onto what they have. Their hope is to do it once and be done. 

Good leaders are willing to re-earn their way back into leadership because they understand that the leadership life will almost always require them to start again at the bottom more than once.


10. You Cannot Climb the Levels Alone


“Leadership is accepting people where they are, then taking them somewhere.” - C. W. Perry 

One of my favorite sayings is, “If you think you’re leading but no one is following, then you are only taking a walk.” That thought captures the true nature of leadership and also expresses the most important insight about the 5 Levels of Leadership. 

To succeed as a leader, you must help others follow you up the levels. If people aren’t following you, you’re not moving up from Level 1 to Levels 2 and 3. If other people following you up the levels aren’t becoming leaders themselves, then you haven’t reached Level 4. 

And if the people you’re developing aren’t on Level 4 developing generations of leaders, then you will not achieve Level 5. The entire process includes other people and focuses on helping them. 

As Quaker leader C. W. Perry said, “Leadership is accepting people where they are, then taking them somewhere.” That’s what the 5 Levels of Leadership is all about!


It’s Time to Go to the Next Level


I trust that you now have a basic understanding of the 5 Levels  of Leadership and how it works. But I’m guessing that by now you’re asking yourself, What level am I on with most of my people? I make this assertion because every time I teach the 5 Levels, that is a question people want answered. 

I’ll help you to do that in a moment, but first let me say this: understanding the 5 Levels of Leadership and knowing what level you are on with each person will determine how you lead them. 

Good leaders do not lead everyone the same way. Why? Because every person is different, and you’re not on the same level of leadership with every person. Effective leaders interact with followers based on:

·        Where they are with that specific follower,

·        Where the follower perceives the leader to be, and

·        Where the followers are in their own leadership development.

Each of these factors comes into play as you evaluate your leadership and work to develop it. I believe every person has the ability to improve in leadership. Becoming a leader isn’t a mystical subject. 

It can be approached very practically, and everyone has the potential to move up to a higher level of leadership. What is your potential? Do you have the capacity and the desire to become a Level 3, 4, or 5 leader? There’s only one way to find out. 

Accept the leadership challenge, give growth your best effort, and dive into leadership. If you’re willing to pick up the gauntlet, you’ll never regret it, because there is no better way to increase your positive impact on the world and add value to others than to increase your leadership ability. 

I believe this book, with its guides for growth at each level, will help you to navigate the process and help you climb. So good reading, good growing, and as my friend Zig Ziglar says, “I’ll see you at the top.”



The 5 Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell pg. 31-40

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