The Different Levels of Leadership

Leadership is a very difficult to define concept. So difficult, in fact, that there are many self-professed ‘gurus’ who have written thousands of books on the subject, and made millions. Each of these has a completely different concept on what leadership is, how someone can become a leader, what personality traits they must have, and more. One thing that they do seem to agree on, however, is that there five levels of leadership, and that leadership is about influencing people.

Navigating the Different Levels of Leadership

Leaders are found across all levels of society, from Fortune 500 companies to charitable organizations, and from domestic homes to community groups. Take Infor CEO Charles Phillips and his wife, for instance, who are both true leaders but in very different fields. Regardless of where someone leads, however, they must go through the aforementioned five levels to get to the top. Each of these levels takes longer to navigate through, as well as more commitment and effort.

The Five Levels of Leadership

  1. Position, which is the first level. This means that you may be a leader, but only in name. For instance, you could have been given a managerial role in a certain company. Just because you take up that position does not mean you instantly lead people, however. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that you have the ability to lead.
  2. Permission, which is a huge step up from position. Once at this level, you will notice that others around you allow you to lead them. To be an effective leader, this is absolutely fundamental. If your team is resistant to your influence, you will not be able to guide them to where you want them to go either.
  3. Production, which happens when people not only give you permission to lead them, but actually start to follow your direction. This is where you will see an increase in productivity. At this point, it is easy to think that you have made it, because you start to achieve goals towards reaching the overall mission of the organization you work for. However, it is important to not become complacent, because it doesn’t actually end here.
  4. People development is the next important phase. Here, you will start to become inspirational to others, ensuring that they not only meet the company’s overall vision and mission, but that they actually become better themselves. A true leader always tries to develop more leaders, to give back to those who also want to climb the ladder.
  5. Finally, there is personhood. It is when you get to this position that you truly are a leader, a level taken up by people like Charles Phillips and his wife. It is a very hard level to reach, but it can be done. Essentially, people know who you are here and they know what you represent, and this is something that fills them with respect.

If you are currently in a position of leadership, you need to know at which level you are. In so doing, you can also support yourself to grow.

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