All of us complement many different roles in our lives at the same time. Are you a parent? Are you a manager at your job? Are you a Captain or a shipping officer? Are you coordinating a volunteer association? Whether you are one or several of these things, one thing is certain: you are a leader.
Leadership is a complex concept. Although there are cases of ‘born leaders’, leadership is certainly a ‘soft skill’, and skills can always be taught and developed through working on them. And what is a better way to start working on it if not diving into it? In a relevant book, New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell explains how true leadership works by citing the five levels of leadership. Let us have a look:
1. Position leadership: Leading a team from a position of authority
This is the lowest level of leadership and is based on the authority and power given to a person because of their position in an organization. Anyone can get appointed to a position -for example, thanks to the right networking or thanks to pure luck-, but what happens when relying only on that position to get people to follow?
This is why, according to Maxwell, leaders at this level find it hard to cooperate with volunteers. Because volunteers don’t have to follow someone; they only do because they want to and/or they are inspired to.
However, it does not mean that being at this level of leadership is necessarily bad. This level is a great starting point for young leaders who aspire to invest in their growth, learn and move gradually to the next levels.
Position leadership typically involves making decisions, setting guidelines, and providing guidance to others in order to achieve organizational goals. Position leadership is often associated with management roles and typically requires strong interpersonal and organizational skills.
2. Permission leadership: Leading in a way that builds relationships and inspires
The second level is a style of leadership based on creating an environment of trust, respect, and collaboration. It involves creating a culture in which team members feel comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas, and in which everyone’s contributions are valued. This is why level 2 is where solid relationships are built that create the foundation for the next level.
Permission leadership includes active listening, open communication, positive reinforcement, and providing clear direction. It also involves creating an atmosphere of psychological safety, where team members are encouraged to take risks and try new things without feeling judged or criticized.
3. Production leadership: Leading in a way that gets things done
On this level, leaders who produce results build their influence and credibility. In business, production leadership is focused on the production and operations side. It involves planning, organizing, directing, and controlling the production and operations process, as well as monitoring and improving the quality of the output.
This level of leadership is focused on achieving results, and it requires the leader to have a comprehensive knowledge of the production process, equipment, and materials, the right skills and knowledge, as well as be able to motivate and inspire their team to achieve their goals.
4. People development leadership: Leading to reproduce
This level of leadership is focused on developing the skills and abilities of team members in order to create more leaders. In the work setting, this leads not only to a stronger and more cohesive team, but also helps the organization to accomplish more of its goals.
People development leadership is a leadership style that focuses on helping people grow and develop their skills, knowledge, and abilities. It encourages employees to become the best version of themselves and provides them with ongoing support to help them reach their goals.
As a result, people development Leaders can create a culture of learning and development and strive to create an environment where employees can reach their full potential.
5. Pinnacle leadership: Leading in a way that you invest your life into
This is the highest level of leadership. In the fifth and final stage, people follow you because of what you represent, such as the values and personality traits you display. This level of leadership is all about being a role model and inspiring people to be their best selves.
Pinnacle leadership focuses on building trust and respect, and challenging individuals to reach their highest potential. It focuses on building relationships, encouraging self-awareness, developing communication and problem-solving skills, and inspiring others to take ownership of their work.
Finally, pinnacle leadership helps create an environment that values high performance, and where everyone is empowered to bring their best to the table and reach their goals.
In which of the above leadership levels do you think you are standing? Whichever one you are in, there is never a better time than now to aim for the next one. Read a related book. Listen to a podcast. Commit to yourself that you will develop and lead, both professionally and personally, regardless of your position. After all, leadership is all about growth; the personal one and the one of the people around you!
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