Friday, September 14, 2012

Level 5 Leadership: The Pinnacle

(Credit: John Maxwell)
For the past few weeks, we have been reflecting on John Maxwell's 5 levels of leadership. We have covered the Positional (Level 1), the Permission (Level 2), the Production (Level 3), and last week, we dealt with Level 4, the People Development level of leadership.

In this final stage and the highest level of leadership, people will follow because of who you are, and what you represent. Level 1 is about rights, titles, and jostling for position. Level 2 is about relationships. Level 3 is about production where results are key factors for leadership influence. Level 4 is about reproduction where the leader is helping others succeed. Level 5 represents the pinnacle of leadership, where respect is the trademark. The problem is that this level is often not a permanent position. They are often playing at Level 4 because their primary task is to develop Level 4 leaders.

A) Upsides of Level 5 Leadership

There are three major upsides according to Maxwell. The first is that Level 5 leaders will work toward creating a Level 5 leadership culture within the organization. It is about empowering. It is about a high level leading. It is about rising above the rest. Second, Level 5 leaders aim toward creating and leaving behind a legacy. Whether convictions or principles, leaders are measured on how well they have developed other leaders. Third, level 5 leaders set the stage or the platform for developing others. They learn, they earn, and they eventually return back the benefits in some way.

B) Downsides of Level 5 Leadership

Likewise, Maxwell highlights three major downsides. First, leaders may start to let pride in, and think one has arrived. They fall on their own idea of achievement that they fail to be humble and grow. Second, they start trusting themselves more than others. They deceive themselves. They start to think whatever they touch turns into gold. Third, they lose focus of the key objectives the moment the focus move to self.

C) Toward a Level 5 Leadership Level

Thankfully, there is a way. People wanting to grow to this level of leadership have six ways to do that.
  1. They make room for others at the top
  2. They continually mentor other potential Level 5 leaders
  3. They create an inner circle that they may be held accountable
  4. They let their unique leadership level do unique things for the sake of the organization
  5. They plan for succession
  6. They leave a positive legacy.
Of all the six, I think the most important is to be able to move away from "being needed" toward "be succeeded."  Such leaders work on other people's strengths instead of exploiting their weaknesses. They learn to give rather than to keep for themselves. 

D) Some notable Quotes

  • "Wouldn't having more leaders create less room? No. And here's why: when you develop a leader who develops other leaders, you create more room at the top because you increase the size and power of the entire organization. Every time you develop good leaders and help find a place for them to lead and make an impact, they gather more good people to them." (243-4)
  • "Leadership author and former FedEx executive Fred A. Manske Jr., observed, 'The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they eventually surpass him or her in knowledge and ability.' On the Pinnacle level, that should always be your goal." (244)
  • "Writer Lorin Woolfe says, 'The ultimate test for a leader is not whether he or she makes smart decisions and takes decisive action, but whether he or she teaches others to be leaders and builds an organization that can sustain its success even when he or she is not around.' True leaders put ego aside and strive to create successors who go beyond them. And they plan to hand off the baton of leadership in stride when they are still running at their peak." (250)

My Comments

We have come to the end of the reflection on John Maxwell's five levels of leadership. It is an enriching exercise. While there is no such thing as a permanent "laws" per se, the framework drawn up by Maxwell is an easy to follow structure for us to learn within. Most importantly, the framework tells us that leadership is not about ourselves. It is about others. At every level, this single most important point needs to guide our thinking and our leading. If leaders fail to show the way toward unselfish leadership, they are risking becoming pawns that build up a selfish organization where every worker only cares for themselves. When this happens, it is the beginning of the end, not just for the organization, but for the individual as well. Let me close with this snippet from Coach John Wooden.

Making the Most of One's Self
  • Be true to your self
  • Make each day your masterpiece
  • Help others
  • Drink deeply from good books
  • Make friendship a fine art
  • Build shelter against a rainy day
  • Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Thank you for following me on this series on the Five Levels of Leadership.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

taffrislThanks for quoting my book.

Lorin Woolfe
Author, The Bible on Leadership

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