The 5 Levels Of Leadership Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The 5 Levels Of Leadership will teach you how to lead others with lasting influence by focusing on your people instead of your position.

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5 Levels Of Leadership Summary

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Have you ever had someone tell you that you are a natural leader? When I was younger I would hear people say this to me and wondered what they were talking about. Leadership seemed like a confusing thing that required more confidence than I had.

But over the years, and through John C. Maxwell’s The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential, I’ve learned the deeper truths about what makes a great leader. Maxwell’s five levels, or ladders, that a great leader must climb are:

  1. Position
  2. Permission
  3. Production
  4. People Development
  5. Pinnacle

These steps will teach you how to go from the kind of manager your employees dread being around, to one that has an affect on their entire career and lives.

Here are 3 of the greatest leadership lessons I’ve learned from this book:

  1. Your management position means nothing to those you lead when compared to the power of your personality and values.
  2. Developing relationships of trust is one of the most important things you can do to have a long-term impact for good. 
  3. To make the biggest difference in your company and the lives of your people, you must train others to be leaders themselves. 

Are you as excited as I am to learn the keys to motivational leadership? Let’s get started!

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Lesson 1: Use your personality and values to lead, not your management title.

Have you ever had a leader that you felt was constantly defending their position in the company? This person might have built a large staff or got the highest budget just to make themselves look important. We’ve all seen these types of leaders. They’re more focused on their position than people, and thus end up wasting time, energy, and the potential of their team. 

Although position isn’t everything, it is important to have to lead, and is the first step of the five levels. Align your vision with the idea that a title is not a goal, but instead a starting point for you and your organization. Rather than a “big promotion” for you, this is a chance to set your people up for lifelong success.

To give your status within the company life and meaning, use your personality. What are your core values that you’d like to help your teammates develop also? Which practices will help you be the most productive? There are many different styles of leadership, and any one can work as long as it fits your identity.

An experience of a Southwest Airlines former CEO shows how this works. He watched how two court litigators acted. While one was emotional and assertive, the other fostered calmness and diplomacy. Both of these leaders were successful even though they had different styles.

Lesson 2: Get people’s permission to let you lead them by building a relationship of trust with them.

While position is important for making a difference in people’s lives, it’s not enough for them to follow you. It’s vital that you get their permission for you to lead them. Doing this is as simple as changing your focus from yourself to others. 

Think of a person that you have to spend time with that you don’t like. How do you feel when you are around them? For most of us, these kinds of people sap our energy and give us a negative attitude about life. 

In contrast, getting lunch with a best friend is energizing and fulfilling. Often the reason our friends have such a positive influence is because they like us. They listen to what we have to say and help us when we need it. 

Leadership must remain more formal than friendship. But you’ve got to be the kind of leader that gives these kinds of feelings to your employees by valuing them. When your employees feel that you care, they will trust you. And once they do that, they will give you permission to lead them.

Lesson 3: Prepare those you lead to be future leaders themselves to create a legacy of greatness.

Although the journey might be long and different for everyone, the process of creating leaders must be a continual cycle. You can do this best by aiming to turn those you lead into leaders themselves.

It’s crucial that we train new leaders for a few reasons. First, if you’ve ever had an organizational bottleneck, you know how awful they are for productivity. Building up the new generation of leaders fixes this problem by dividing the work between multiple people. A smart manager will prepare his team to work as a flock of geese, continually switching who is at the head of the V formation.

Avoiding a bottleneck isn’t the only benefit to having multiple leaders, though. When the person in charge quits and the next person to take their place is prepared, it makes the transition much smoother. This requires creating a culture of leadership that empowers every person to lead.

Let’s look at an example. Did you know that Socrates’ passed his knowledge down so well that it influenced Alexander the Great? Plato was a student of Socrates who’s academy taught Aristotle, who was a vital mentor to Alexander the Great. 

While all of these lessons are important reasons to build up new leadership, the most important is the rewards it gives you. As Jim Carrey once said:

“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is.”

Getting to see others grow is the best gift that will come from learning how to be a great leader.

The 5 Levels Of Leadership Review

The 5 Levels of Leadership is a really inspiring book. It felt like some of the ideas were things I’d heard before, but I really think there is a lot of power in the basics of good leadership. I’m excited to try to practice these principles myself to really make a difference in people’s lives!

Who would I recommend The 5 Levels Of Leadership summary to?

The 45-year-old CEO who would like to influence his employees for good beyond their paychecks and benefits, the 29-year-old college grad who is young in their career and wants to make a difference, and anyone who is in a position of leadership.

Last Updated on August 23, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.