Levels of Leadership

A leader must never cease to learn.Leadership growth is important to maximise the potential of followers. Progress in increasing leadership abilities and expanding the influence is Leadership Growth.

John Maxwell in his book The Five Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to maximise your potential provides a great paradigm for understanding leadership. In his book he gives details of each level and limitations. Also, he gives direction on how to climb up these levels and develop leadership qualities.


This the level of right. People follow you because of their position. You are the boss and they have no choice. They have to follow you whether they like your leadership or don’t.

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Leadership style & people management

  • It is the lowest level of leadership.
  • There is no influence because of the person. Job title is the influencing factor.
  • Leadership at this level is proportional to the rights granted by position and title.
  • People follow you because they have to follow you.
  • Execution is done through rules, regulations, policies & charts etc are used for controlling people.

People management

  • It is difficult to work with youngsters, highly educated people at this level.
  • People are subordinates and not team players.
  • No or little effort or ability is requires to achieve this level.
  • Anyone with or without capabilities can be appointed a position.
  • People under him never go out of the way to achieve results. They only do what they are required to do.
  • Conflict Resolution Style : Competition is the pre-dominant style of conflict resolution.


People follow you, because they like you and they want to follow you. They trust you. They enjoy your leadership. They can go beyond their work domain. The work is fun at this level.

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Leadership style

  • It is based on relationships.
  • Influencing factor is the liking for each other.
  • It is not about position it is knowing about people and figuring out how to work with them.
  • Leaders carry out execution by knowing who they people are and build solid relationships with them to get the work done
  • The aim is to create the pleasant working environment, where everyone enjoys working.

People management

  • It is a very glamorous level, where the danger is that leader might stop there.
  • Leaders may give lot of importance to relationships and results might take back seats.
  • Good leaders not only create pleasant working environment, they also get things done and this may crop up as a pain point.
  • Conflict Resolution Style – Accommodation in the pre-dominant style of conflict resolution.


People follow the leader because of his accomplishments . Nothing succeeds like success. People know that if they are there with you, the probability of them being successful is high and therefore they accept you as a leader.

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Leadership Style

  • Leaders influence because of their achievements and accomplishments.
  • Leaders are change agents for the people , for the organisations at this level.
  • Works get done, ,morale improves, profits go up and everyone sees delta.
  • Leaders take risks , take tough decisions, deal with thorny issues.

People management

  • Lots of trainings and learnings for the people.
  • People are taken to the next level of effectiveness.
  • Conflict Resolution – Compromise the pre-dominant style of conflict resolution at this level.


People follow you because of “what is in for them ” (WIIFM).

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“When you are winning, nothing hurts”

– Joe Namath

Leadership Style

  • They reproduce themselves.
  • There are more leaders on team.
  • Leaders use position, relationships and productivity to invest in the followers and develop them until they become leaders in their own right.
  • Lots of trainings and learnings happen for the followers.

People Management

  • Production may win games and people development wins championships.
  • High investment in people deepens relationships , helps people know each other better and strengthens loyalty.
  • Team work goes to the highest.
  • Performance increases at this level, everyone’s performance improves.
  • Conflict Resolution – Collaboration is the pre-dominant style of conflict resolution.


People follow you because of who you are . What value system you represent. Very few people make it to this level . These are bigger than life.

Leadership Style

  • Highest and the most difficult level of leadership.
  • Except for this level, all the other levels of leadership can be learnt.
  • This level requires not only efforts, skills and intention, but also a high level of talent.
  • Only naturally gifted leaders make up to this level.
  • This leadership is about developing other leaders to become level 4 leaders i.e. leaders of people development.
  • It requires much more than simply leading followers.

People Management

  • People follow these leaders, even if they are not there in flesh and bone.
  • The leadership tenure outlives life of a leaders itself.
  • They don’t manage followers. They get inspired by their lives and conduct.
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Further reading