levels-of-leadershipFive leadership levels

John Maxwell wrote about five levels of leadership, which I will briefly share here. Your leadership can be developed and elevated to new levels. In practice, there are five levels of leadership: position, permission, production, people development and personal maturity.

1.    Position

This is the basic entry-level of leadership. The only influence that you have at this level is in virtue of your title. At this level people appeal to rights and titles. In other words if someone has the title, he is the boss and that’s it.

True leadership is much more than simply a title that confers authority. True leadership expresses you as someone who others follow joyfully. An authentic leader knows the difference between a boss and a leader. God did not call us to be chieftains, but to be leaders. Think for a minute, what is the basic difference between a boss and a leader?

This level of leadership is generally acquired by nomination. Such is the case when your leader nominates you to be a small group leader or chooses you to lead another group in which no one knows you. In this case, your leadership initially will be merely positional.

People do not follow a positional leader beyond their specific realm of authority. They limit themselves to do only what is required when the leader requests it. When there is no confidence in the leader, the members do not commit themselves.

Few people are prepared to follow us because of our titles. Our joy and our success in leading a small group or a network depend on our ability to continue reaching new levels of leadership.

  • At this level of leadership, you must:
  • Completely know the attributes of a small group leader
  • Be clear of what the vision of the church is
  • Be on board with the leadership of your network in the church
  • Accept responsibilities and challenges
  • Develop your work with visible excellence
  • Do more than is expected of you
  • Propose creative ideas for improvement and positive change

2.   Permission

“Leadership is moving people to cooperate with you when they are not obligated to do so”. This will only happen when you advance to the second level of influence. People do not care about your title until they perceive how much you care about them. Leadership begins in the heart and not in the head.

Level 1 leaders lead by intimidation. We advance to the second level only when we relate and demonstrate real interest and love for our followers. You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them.

Be careful not to attempt to skip this level. We cannot advance in leadership without gaining the people’s permission. On this level of leadership, you must:

  • Love the people in your group
  • Help the members help themselves with their battles
  • See through the eyes of the people
  • Place the members as a priority
  • Position yourself confidently before the group
  • Include all the members of the small group in fellowship
  • Treat difficult and resistant people with wisdom

3.   Production

Everyone is oriented toward results. Invariably results and goals that we reach are the principal reason for leadership and the principal reason why leaders must be established. Once strong and lasting relationships are established, people are open to cooperate on the third level, which is production. It will do no good to try to reach goals or fulfill tasks if we have not reached the prior level.

The level 1 position is the door to leadership, but level 2, the level of permission is the foundation. Therefore, in the third level we must:

Accept the challenge and responsibility to multiply our leadership

  • Pursue the purpose of growth
  • Make everyone accountable including ourselves
  • Plan strategies that will help reach the goal
  • Communicate the strategy and vision of the church
  • Transform ourselves into instruments of challenge for the members
  • Make the difficult decisions that will establish change

4.   People development

We can identify a leader through or by way of his recognition. Recognition exists when leaders constantly exhibit superior development of functions entrusted to them. The leader becomes great not because of his power, but because of his ability to delegate power to others. Success without a successor breeds failure.

The principal responsibility of the worker is to do his work. The principal responsibility of a leader is to develop other leaders. The small group leader must have leaders in training. Therefore, if the small group does not have leaders in training this means that he has not yet attained the fourth level of developing people.

In the second leadership level, the members of the small group learn to love the leader. In the third level, they learn to admire him. In the fourth level, the leader wins the loyalty of the cell, winning the hearts of his followers by helping them grow spiritually. However:

  • You must continue meeting together systematically teaching those that are under your small group leadership
  • Be aware that the lives of your team members are your most valuable assets and must be your focus of work
  • Prioritize the discipleship of your team
  • Be an example for them to imitate
  • Concentrate your efforts on leaders in training
  • Provide growth opportunities for them
  • Learn to attract overcomers around you

5.   Personal maturity

On this level, you lead and inspire people simply because you have already reached total recognition. You have become an example of leadership because of the results of your ministry over a long time. On this level, it must be evident that:

  • The members of the small group or network are loyal to you and willing to make sacrifices
  • You have spent years orienting and molding leaders
  • You have become a discipler or pastor with a testimony worthy to be followed
  • Your greatest joy consists of observing other leaders grow and multiply

Beginning with the recognition of these levels we can build a structure that helps us to understand influence and what can be done to increase it. In order to go to the top, a leader must do two things:

  1. Recognize what level he is presently operating in and
  2. Know and apply the necessary qualities for success in each level

Whatever your position within an organization or group, you will only grow as a leader when you successfully identify on which level of leadership you currently operate and identify the aspects lacking in your leadership to move to the next level. Then it is a matter of striving to overcome what hinders leadership growth and acquire the qualities necessary to move past the next level. Cultivate the attitude that this process will continue for the rest of your life.