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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"The 5 Levels of Leadership" (John C. Maxwell)

TITLE: The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential
AUTHOR: John C. Maxwell
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Center Street, 2011, (296 pages).

As a leadership guru, John Maxwell has a way of putting important ideas into a very teachable format. Through what he calls the 5 levels of leadership, he enables readers to immediately hook on the intentionality of leadership. He says that the book is a result of more than 5 years of work, as well as his most popular request so far among all his leadership materials. The 5 levels of leadership in increasing order of influence are:

  1. POSITION - closely linked to your rights, where people follow you simply because they have to.
  2. PERMISSION - associated more with the level of your relationships, people follow you because they respect you.
  3. PRODUCTION - linked to results, people follow you because you are competent and delivers results.
  4. PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT - linked to reproduction, people follow you because you are a people developer based on what you have done for them.
  5. PINNACLE - linked to respect, people follow you because of what you represent and for the person that you are.

Following this model, Maxwell provides 10 insights to use with regards to the progression of leadership levels. Of course, one needs to move from Level 1 to the highest Level 5.
(John Maxwell, The Five Levels of Leadership, p6)

  1. You can move up a level but you never leave the previous one behind
  2. You are not on the same level with every person
  3. The higher you go, the easier it is to lead
  4. The higher you go, the more time and commitment is required to win a level
  5. Moving up levels occurs slowly, but going down can happen quickly
  6. The higher you go, the greater the return
  7. Moving farther up always requires further growth
  8. Not climbing the levels limits you and your people
  9. When you change positions or organizations, you seldom stay at the same level
  10. You cannot climb the levels alone.

It is tempting to think that there is nothing really new with regards to the author's way of explaining leadership. Yet, I admit it is amazing for Maxwell to be able to present his ideas in simple ways, packed with  witty advice, and concise applications. He gives a leadership assessment exercise for readers to immediately use and apply in order to determine their present levels. He explains each level in detail, complete with survey results, stories, experience, and humor. One of the pleasant finds in the book is the examples he used. For instance, the Chinese word,  has been explained through the following ways:

  • Ears (耳) - I hear what you say
  • Eyes (眼) - I see what you say
  • Heart (心) - I feel what you say
  • Undivided attention - I value who you are and what you say.
It is a simple word, but the explanation itself is compelling. While the concepts are really simple, I must acknowledge the brilliance behind the way the author is able to keep the readers engrossed in the book's stories. Learning is fun and educational! As a learning tool, the book is an excellent tool to motivate leaders to improve. It is easy to use and very entertaining as well. On the application side, things are not necessarily as neat as what Maxwell has painted it to be. Life is often more complex than the 5 levels of leadership. Perhaps, the best way to use this book is to have it as a rough map for one to determine leadership style and position. The true measure of one's leadership ultimately lies in the practice of leadership. Good teaching and good tools can only help one so far. There is the school of hard knocks. Both success and failure of leadership efforts are also teachers of leadership in their own ways. Powerful stuff this book may contain, do not be too myopic to limit your leadership learning only to this book. It is important for readers to use this book as one of their many resources of leadership.

That said, if you have not read any of John Maxwell's book before, I strongly recommend that you pick this book as your first. 


1 comment:

  1. Great recommendation, I'm starting a new admin job with good opportunities to move up the chain and have been eating up books on leadership.