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The Five Levels of Leadership Summary

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The Five Levels of Leadership SummaryProven Steps to Maximize Your Potential

Is a leader created or born? Can a leader change, and become better?

Find the answers below.

Who Should Read “The Five Levels of Leadership”? and Why?

Being a leader is not something you are born with, or you become – and that is it. Instead, it is a journey that requires constant learning through your entire lifetime.

If you have always wanted to know what it takes to be a leader, and how you can become one, “The Five Levels of Leadership” is the book for you.

John C. Maxwell explains how you can understand your current position, and how you can move upwards on the leadership ladder built of five levels: influencing others, building relationships, producing results, developing your employees’ talents and finally, creating future leaders.

About John C. Maxwell

John C. MaxwellJohn C. Maxwell is a bestselling author, speaker, and leadership expert.

“The Five Levels of Leadership Summary”

You cannot “become” a leader since “becoming” alludes to a final position, a reached goal.

Instead, you can “be” a leader, since leadership is a journey that lasts your whole life.

As you develop, you will move through five levels, which will multiply your amount of work, but at the same time, with each passed stage, you will feel that leadership gets easier.

There is no shortcut since every new level is built upon the previous one.

Moving up takes a long time, a lot of patience and commitment, but the higher you get, the more fulfilled you will feel until you finally see the end goal: to build a legacy.

So, what are these five levels we are telling you about?

You are on level 1, or the “Position” level, when you first begin as a manager.

When you sit on the managerial stool, your first task is to show your boss and the employees that they made the right decision, and show them how you can help them succeed.

Now, just having a managerial title does not mean you are a leader since a title is not equal to power, but it does mean that your status has improved.

Do not use your position to order people around.

Instead, use your powers to inspire and motivate people and build a following. Caring about your position only will do you harm since people cannot tolerate leaders who do not value them, which can cause a high turnaround.

The next level is the “permission” level which is where the real leadership begins.

Most people chose between two paths: either working hard and being productive or forming relationships.

However, productivity is essential at level 3, and as we said, you cannot skip levels. So, this level is all about the “soft” path and forming relationships with your employees.

We assure you, your employees will work harder and better as they feel mutual support, trust and respect.

The third level, as we already mentioned, is the “production” stage, and it is the one which differentiates between a “title” and a real leader.


Simple: you cannot fake production, and you have to produce results to be able to grow as a leader.

To boost productivity, focus on tasks that yield the greatest returns, and eliminate everything that might slow, or even limit your productivity.

On this level you will face hard decisions, taking responsibility and accountability for mistakes.

When you get to this stage, the relationships with your employees will change, since not everyone will follow you on the path to higher productivity.

Once you successfully pass level three, you will find yourself on the “people development” level.

There you will move from leading a productive team to creating a leadership culture.

In other words, you get to level 4 when you have developed your employees from followers to leaders.

Create units of people that complement each other, and use each individual’s strengths to increase the overall productivity. Invest in people – they are the only resources that do not depreciate.

We will not lie to you, reaching high levels of leadership is no easy thing to do. You need to know in which level you are at the moment, so you can know what to focus on.

For example, many leaders who reach level 4 continue focusing on increasing production, when they should be training future leaders instead.

So, learning to change your mindset from “doing” to “developing” is essential.

When you are a level 4 leader, you are at the top of a pyramid of leaders you created. The company reaps benefits from all those leaders. So take your time and build your pyramid.

Be ready to work hard, since working with people and motivating them to develop may be the most laborious task you will face.

You will reach level 5 by never stopping the learning process, training the best people, and fighting your own fears and insecurities.

At level 5 your main goal is defining leadership, practicing what you preach, developing leaders, and thus creating a leadership culture.

Try to think of what leadership should be, and create a legacy.

Most leaders may not make it this far, or they reach this level late in their careers.

The important thing to note is that when you reach this level if you do, you will influence not only your organization but the whole society.

Key Lessons from “The Five Levels of Leadership”

1.      The Risk of Not Trying
2.      Choose Your Successor
3.      Use Pain to Your Advantage

The Risk of Not Trying

Level 1 and Level 5 leaders have one thing in common: they both think that they have reached their destination, so – they stop trying.

Never forget that many people contributed to your evolution, so return the favor and teach those around you how they can climb to the next level.

Choose Your Successor

Nobody is irreplaceable. So, knowing this, you might as well decide who will succeed you.

Mentor many candidates, and help level 4 leaders reach level 5. The thing with this task is that you have to do it yourself, and you cannot delegate it since only you can tell who is ready to move up.

When you choose leaders to develop, use the four Cs for assessment: “chemistry, character, capacity” and “contribution.”

Before you leave an organization, be the one who chooses your successor, to make sure that your life work will fall into the right hands.

Use Pain to Your Advantage

When people face stressful situations, they have a choice: to become victims, or use the lessons they learn to become leaders.

Do not fear to share your knowledge. When you become successful, do not forget to encourage employees at all levels.

People will respect you for it.

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“The Five Levels of Leadership” Quotes

Nobody achieves anything great by giving the minimum. No teams win championships without making sacrifices and giving their best. Click To Tweet The challenge of leadership is to create change and facilitate growth. Click To Tweet Position is a poor substitute for influence. Click To Tweet Your values are the soul of your leadership, and they drive your behavior. Click To Tweet When you like people and treat them like individuals who have value, you begin to develop influence with them. You develop trust. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Maxwell, although may seem to give partially clichéd advice, he does it in a way that is clear, concise, and provides an actually workable blueprint for leadership development.

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