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Booktalking "The Five Levels of Leadership" by John Maxwell

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This work presents a positive view of people and their potential. Effective leaders should not simply search for work performance problems to correct. They help staff to develop their skills and achieve their goals. Then, the staff will repay the leaders and the company with their dedication, hard work, and potentially their ability to lead others on the path to success. It is also important for companies to recruit the best staff in order to have a winning team. Maxwell has devises a leveled approach to the sophistication of skills that leaders can develop.

Level 1: Position

Many people receive an opportunity to lead out of an appointment to a position, winning a job, or sheer necessity. Everyone must start at this level in order to develop leadership skills. Here, subordinates follow simply because they are required to. They wish to retain their employment. Leaders at Level 1 are very tied to their job titles, and they believe that they must know more than everyone else in order to feel worthy. Leaders at this level can be very insecure about their abilities. They look for problems with their staff, and they fail to see staff as people with varying skill sets in their own right. 

Level 2: Permission

This level is about relationships with staff, and people with good interpersonal skills can master this level. People follow at this level because they want to and they like the leader. This level is an improvement over Level 1, but sometimes teams do not accomplish much at this level.

Level 3: Production

Leaders at this level produce much, so they tend to attract others who wish to be part of a winning team. Some leaders at this level are stronger in productivity than they are in business relationships, which they may need to work on. 

Level 4: People Development

This is where leaders develop other staff into leaders. This is a very sophisticated level of leadership and interpersonal skill that only about 10% of leaders ever achieve. Leaders must choose others with a natural inclination and talent for leading. Most of these administrators' professional lives are spent dealing with the thorny interpersonal problems that arise during the course of business.

Level 5: Pinnacle

Only 1% of Leaders achieve this level, which consists of teaching leaders to become capable of developing other leaders. This level is extremely complex and difficult to achieve and maintain. Leaders at this level need to strive for humility since their is an aura that surrounds them. Think of Steve Jobs and Mahatma Gandhi. Pinnacle leaders need to continually strive to create leaders and develop people's potential. Resting on one's laurels can mean the downfall of a company.

The Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell, 1960

I heard of this book during a Women's Media Group presentation at the Book Expo America conference. It completely metamorphosed the way that I think about business leadership. It freed me to think about developing staff and my function in the workplace in a different, more awesome way. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to excel at leadership, enjoy the people they work with, and help them to succeed. Even though this is an older book, it is still relevant today!

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