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Are you a Leader? If not what kind of Leader are you following?

I just finished reading the #1 New York Times Bestselling Author John C. Maxwell’s The 5 Levels of Leadership.  In this book he states as a leader, you have great power to lift people up.  Mother Teresa said “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are endless.” 

Are you a Leader?  If not what kind of Leader are you following?

How many times have you ever shook your head in doubt and wondered “how did they become the boss/leader?”  Or maybe you have followed someone great who is a leader and stated “they are just the best boss/leader ever!”  Leadership is not necessarily a natural behavior one just knows how to do (though it can be its just not common).  There are some people who think just because they have a title that they have become a leader.  Of course we all know that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Everything rises and falls on leadership, EVERYTHING!  So what does it take to be a leader or to know if you are following one that has true leadership qualities?  Everyone can learn to master leadership the question is are you ready?

Well, let’s take a look at Mr. Maxwell’s out line for the 5 levels of leadership.   Level 1 is POSITION – people follow because they have to.  This is considered the lowest level of leadership and recognized as entry level.  These leaders focus on control instead of contribution. It is not influential and one that comes with the title.  I remember when I got my first title in the Army as a sargent.  The title gave me the power to give orders.  I relied on rules, regulations, policies and the Army’s manuals to guide and control my subordinates.   These subordinates will do only what is required of them because they have a positional leader and not one who is influential.  Anyone can be appointed to a position.  My favorite quote in this chapter of the book is by T.S. Eliot and states “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.   


Level 2 is PERMISSION – people follow because they want to and this is based entirely on relationships.  “You can like people without leading them, but you cannot lead people well without liking them.”  To me this is such an important level of leadership.  You must be able to take the time to build a relationship with others and get to know them.  In getting to know them it will also give you the tools to be able to know how to get along with them.  When you build the relationship, know what makes them tick and then you start building trust and influence with them.  

Level 3 is Production – people follow because of what you have done for the organization.  At this level people always believe what we do more than what we say.  So you have the title and you have built a relationship, it doesn’t stop there (however some leaders do stop there and never go to the next level).  The next level once you build a great relationship with your followers is getting things done, production.  John states that “many positive things begin happening when leaders get to level 3, work gets done, moral improves, profits go up, turnover goes down and goals are achieved.”  Who wouldn’t want to be on level 3 in any organization or leadership position?  Those are all great things.   

Level 4 is People Development – One of my favorite levels in the book is Level 4 People Development – people follow because of what you have done for them personally.  In my opinion John hits the nail on the head when he states leaders on level 4 “use their position, relationships and productivity to invest in their followers and develop them until those followers become leaders in their own right.”  I love love love this and the reason why is too many times leaders don’t get to this point because of fear.  They fear if they train others to be leaders they might outperform the leader.  So they do everything that they can to not encourage or train others to be lifted to higher levels of leadership.  However in doing so what they miss out on is the opportunity to change the lives of the people they lead and the possibility of a lifelong relationship.  I call this passing the baton.  The next generation of leaders need to be groomed and lifted and the way you do that is reach out to them and guide them, encourage them to be part of and not excluding them.  At some point in your leadership you will not be able to or want to be the leader any more.  If you don’t have someone there to take your place all of your efforts will be for not.  This also follows John’s idea of the law of the lid.  “Don’t allow yourself to become the lid on your organization.  Give it the best chance for a bright future by developing other leaders.”  

Level 5 The Pinnacle – people follow because of who you are and what you represent.  John states this is the highest and the most difficult level of leadership.   He also states that you must be talented and naturally gifted.  “Level 5 leaders develop level 5 organizations.  Level 5 leaders often transcend their position, their organization and sometimes their industry.”  RE-read that last statement transcend their position, their organization and sometimes their industry.  How powerful is that?  As a Realtor I think of Gary Keller being Level 5 in leaders.  For decades he has truly built a company that has transcended the industry and made Keller Williams Realty the #1 real estate company on the planet.   In just 32 short years he has transformed how we do real estate in today’s industry.  What would your Level 5 example be?  In looking over these 5 steps where do you see yourself as a leader?  When you follow someone what level do you see them performing at? The one thing you always need to remember is no matter what level you are be teachable and humbled.

Thank you to February 2015 Heart of Gwinnett media sponsors – SHOP LOCAL! 

This article is sponsored by Heart of Gwinnett (formerly New Lawrenceville). Heart of Gwinnett is a FREE networking organization of businesses and volunteers that are working to bring community together.

Author Rodney Camren helps to lead Heart of Gwinnett in an effort to promote buying locally, educate the community on issues that affect our community. Rodney Camren is a Real Estate Agent with Keller Wiliams.