5 LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP

LEADING FROM THE MIDDLE: 5 LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP 

There are 5 levels of leadership. The level you are on determines the degree of effectiveness of your leadership. 
POSITION: The first and lowest level of leadership is the level of Position.

In reality this is not actually leadership, it is more an opportunity to get leadership. 

If we understand the nature of leadership we will understand why Position is not really leadership. Why it isn’t leadership is that positions are given but leadership is not given, it is earned.
Positions come through a variety of ways, but leadership comes through just one way.
Positions can be given in organizations for instance; if a person has developed his capacity to the extent where he can function consistently at a certain level in his industry he will naturally fit into certain types of posts or positions. 

But leadership cannot be given in and by any organization.

People can be given positions by birth.
For instance the monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth, has her first son Charles, as the Prince of Wales.
He did nothing to attain that.
He will become monarch after her death. 
He did nothing to attain that.
That is the nature of position; but that is not the nature of leadership and as we will see position does not mean leadership.

To illustrate the above point might I ask you a question?
 “Have you had a teacher at school when you were little, or a boss at your workplace who you didn’t like very much but whose instructions you nevertheless carried out because he or she was ahead of you?”
Maybe you have, and if you did obey them it would possibly be because you felt like you had no choice.
Now envision a scenario where you meet that same person again, let’s call her Mrs. Brown; so you meet Mrs. Brown but this time outside of the usual environment, probably after you left your previous workplace where you had her as the obnoxious boss; and let’s say you just managed to bump into her someplace else, in a mall or other public place. 

Now what would you do if she gave you the same sort of instructions and in the same tone as she used to give while you worked under her? 
If you were a polite person you would probably just smile and walk away, and if you aren’t you would give her a piece of your mind; most likely a huge chunk that she wouldn’t forget in a hurry.
The reason for this is quite simple; what she had over you was a position and not leadership. She lost her position and so lost the ability to give you any instructions. 

This is why people who remain on the level of Position find it difficult to work with volunteers; volunteers know they are not duty bound to follow just anyone and so they will only follow those that have influence (more on that soon) over them.
Now if all you have over a person is a position then you don’t have leadership. 

PERMISSION: This is where genuine leadership begins and is the point at which influence is exercised.
If you remember our discussion on “Understanding Leadership” you will recall that we defined leadership very simply as “influence”.
 The level of Permission is that point where people begin to willingly follow you and submit to you of their volition. It is that point where you have started exerting influence over them. 
The level of Permission is based on relationship. At this level people will follow you because they like you and because you have influence over them. 

Most of us are usually influenced by people we either aspire to be like or by people who show care and concern for our welfare. We tend to model ourselves after people that inspire us and trust that those who show concern for us have our interests at heart and so we normally won’t have any reservations following them or listening to their counsel.

A leader on this level works to connect with his people, and he does this by increasing his emotional intelligence; as he builds this he gets to create more positive energy in the environment and people tend to gravitate towards him. Trust usually grows at this point and as it does it leads to respect.
So when a person begins to influence other people he has entered this level of leadership.

This is basically what permission is all about, and this is really where real leadership begins.

PERFORMANCE (PRODUCTION): 
The next level of leadership is production. People will be comfortable with you when they know you have concern for their welfare, and they might attempt to emulate you if you inspire them, but they will only respect you if you are productive. 
Most people do not argue with results; they respect results.
So what this level of leadership speaks of is RESULTS.
People will follow you at this level because of your track record.
How many times have we seen people that call themselves leaders but are all talk and no action? I am sure it is something you have seen a lot of, “leaders” who do not walk their talk. It is quite hard to respect a person who doesn’t produce results in any field he aims to command loyalty in; you realize that when a leader produces results he builds credibility and this is instructive because there are two components of credibility/trust- they are character and competence; if a person has character you can bank on his words, but then we also realize there are times when only character will not suffice; there are times when we must go beyond words. 
If for instance you are trustworthy in character I will have no qualms in handing over to you something precious to me in order for you to keep it safely for me, but if you have character but are not a competent driver it is not likely that I would give you my 2017 Sport Utility Vehicle to take out for a spin.
This applies in practically every endeavor in which we engage and so in politics for instance we can also  understand this if we see that as much as we might like some candidates in a particular election because of their mannerisms and charm,or even because of more serious things like their sense of probity and moral rectitude, when we want to elect leaders that will get the job done we look towards track records. We look for their competence and commit our trust to them on that basis. 

At this level of leadership in organizations work gets done and as a result motivation increases, profits improve, stagnation gets kicked out of the window and everyone gets more committed to the task at hand as they see the commitment and performance of the leader.
Everyone works seamlessly as a team and overall effectiveness goes up at this point.

PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT:-
This is leadership by reproduction. At this level the leader realizes that his successes will be measured not by how much he has personally accomplished but by how much the people that work with him have accomplished, and so he works at this point to raise manpower.

Someone once said “It is called ‘manpower’ because where there are no men there is no power”. 

A real leader knows that in order to expand his followership base, whether in boosting his clientele or subscribers or audience, he must first expand his leadership base. So his goal at this point is to identify and develop as many leaders as he possibly can by investing in them  and helping them through their growth phases.

A good leader knows it is more honorable to be a coach than it is to be a player. 

It is also much more productive. The reason is easy to grasp you see- when there are more leaders more of the overall objectives of the organization will be accomplished. Also where there are more leaders the top dog will be able to grow into other things as he will no longer be restricted with performing the tasks he has now developed people to handle. 
As you invest in people you will command a much higher level of loyalty as people will begin to follow you for what you have done for them. 

PERSONHOOD (PINNACLE): At this level of leadership the leader has become an institution and people will follow him for his reputation. People will follow you at this level because of the legacy you would have set.
This level requires you to stick with your principles at all costs; it will require you to give up a lot and sacrifice very much because this level of leadership focuses on posterity.
So what this means is that at this level a leader thinks generationally. He thinks in terms of what structures and systems to develop for succeeding sets of leaders as well as ways to ensure the organization remains relevant even in his absence and for many more years ahead. 
By the nature of this level of leadership there are many instances where the philosophy of leaders at this point become schools of thought. 
Think of Chairman Mao Zedong of Communist China and his Maoist movement. Maoism is today a political theory derived from the teachings of Mao Zedong and a substantial proportion of the Chinese ruling class are adherents of this philosophy.
There are so many other examples to draw from but I assume the point has been made thus far.

So, what level would you say you operate in?

LEADERSHIP SERIES: UNDERSTANDING LEADERSHIP

UNDERSTANDING LEADERSHIP

One of the most interesting topics for me is the subject of Leadership. Before I took up the appellations of  “Life Coach” and “Leadership Consultant” I had discovered that helping people discover and develop leadership was something I was very passionate about and it was something that was central to my being.

So, we are about to engage in a topic that resonates very greatly with me.

We will start here with a definition of leadership.
Leadership expert John Maxwell has summed it into one word. He has very simply defined it as “influence.” 
That is essentially what leadership is- Influence.
At the risk of sounding a little more technical I will give my definition of Leadership as “the art of influencing people to act out of their volition towards the attainment or accomplishment of a collective objective.”

Read that definition again. Then let’s unpack it. 

The first thing you will notice there is that Leadership is an art; it is first a skill that needs to be developed before it is anything else. 

I do not accept that leaders are born.

While there are people who are born with traits that can be developed to make them effective leaders I believe genuine leaders are made, and this is largely because when exposed to the necessary environment and guided properly ANYONE can become a leader.

The next component you will notice in our definition is the word “Influence.” 
Real leadership is not merely authority or some sort of position anyone has over another person; real leadership is influence. It is the ability to exercise the sort of clout and leverage that precludes constraint and is void of coercion over another person or persons.
The minute compulsion is involved in any process it ceases to be leadership driven or guided. 
Authority evokes images of force and compulsion, but Influence is quite different- it evokes thoughts of willingness.
When Authority is involved people act because they have to, but when Influence is involved people act because they want to. 
When all a person has over someone else is a position you can safely note that what he has is authority, but like we will see in a later article authority is not an end in itself but simply a means. In fact, authority is an opportunity to build influence. Authority is a means to Influence.
So, we need to ask ourselves a pertinent question at this juncture- “How can one build influence?”
There might be very many ways through which we can build influence but through my years of personal study and experience in the art of leadership I have come to see that I can synopsize or encapsulate these into about three major ways- 

(1) Living a life that is exemplary and is a model to others
(2) Being genuinely concerned about people
(3) Getting others to understand they have a future in what you are doing 

The first key to building Influence over people is the power of an example. If others see in you what they want to become it will be very easy for them to follow you. If they see their future in you they will have little hesitation in modeling themselves after what you do and say, and this is where a moral burden comes on the aspiring leader. Trust, once violated, becomes harder to build, and so every leader has the obligation to ensure he does not violate the trust reposed in him by those that aspire to be like him.

The second key to building Influence over people is a compound one. It is a mixture of Empathy- the ability to relate to and associate vicariously with the pains of others, Compassion- understanding and having a desire to ameliorate the pains of others, and Care- feeling concern for and interest in others. 
All these three can be substituted for Emotional Intelligence. 
Emotional Intelligence can be defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express ones emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships resourcefully and empathetically. It is the capability of individuals to recognize the interplay of emotions both in themselves and in others, to label them appropriately, and to use the information to guide thinking and behavior in a bid to adapt to different environments and achieve ones goals.
 It takes emotional intelligence to build influence, and anyone who cannot empathize with others and then act in a compassionate way towards them cannot build influence.

Even the corporate world has started making a distinction.
We now hear about two types of ethics people are taught to distinguish between; Character Ethics, and Personality Ethics.
Character Ethics refers to teaching people and helping them imbibe inner values when dealing with others; for instance there are now modules that attempt to show employees the benefits of loving clients and being genuinely pleasant to them, and these training methods attempt to inculcate and imbue in them these values.
Personality Ethics on the other hand are all about teaching people to develop cosmetic/aesthetic values when dealing with others; so some employees in several organizations are taught to smile even when they might dislike a person. It’s a bit like a “fake it if you can’t make it” type of thing.
But beyond the workplace and in life generally if you will learn to really care for people it will be easy to build influence over them and to get their allegiance.
It is not how much you know as much as it is how much you care that helps you develop influence over others.
People are more prone to following you if they are convinced you have their interests at heart. 

The third key to building Influence is what I’ll just call Vision Ownership. When a person can get others to own his vision he will be able to very effortlessly build influence over them. If people will follow you without let, hindrance or reservations they will do so because they see their future in where you are going. If they see you are headed in the same direction as they are it will be very easy to have influence over them, and the average person will be more inclined to contribute his quota to the actualizing of anything he will benefit directly from.

This brings us to the next component of our definition. Leadership is the art of influencing people to act of their “volition”.
To act of their volition is for their actions to be voluntary. If a person feels compelled to do whatever he is doing at anytime then you could be exercising any number of things over him from intimidation, blackmail, and threats; any of all the aforementioned, but anything other than leadership.
Once people are not acting willingly anymore it is manipulation and not leadership that is being implemented.
If in your workplace, church, school, or any point of social activity where you have subordinates people under you feel like they are being compelled or manipulated then what you have over them is not leadership. 
If you had it once but have now resorted to such underhand tactics to keep it then you have lost it without even knowing.

The final component in the definition of Leadership I have given above is “collective”. Leadership is the art of influencing people to act of their own volition towards the attainment or accomplishment of a common goal or collective objective. 
This sort of brings us back to what we had earlier spoken about concerning how to build Influence. People will not follow you when they do not own your vision, and until they own your vision they will not see what you are trying to accomplish as theirs; they will not consider it a corporate or collective objective.
Leadership is not seen in a bid to attain an individual’s objective, it is seen in an attempt to accomplish a collective goal. So if you cannot sell your vision to others and get them to see their part in it, as well as what they stand to benefit from it, you cannot be an effective leader. 

Having defined Leadership we will now move to another important juncture in understanding it. 

There are 2 Dynamics in Leadership- The Visionary Dynamic, and the Responsive Dynamic in Leadership. These two are required in effective leadership but unfortunately most people tend to incline towards one or the other.
 Any person who learns to strike a balance and draw an equivalence between the two of them will be a very successful leader. 
The Visionary Dynamic is that part of leadership that is interested in attaining the objective.
Those who are more inclined towards this are usually fixated on the task and pay very little mind to the people who are critical in its accomplishment. What happens more often than not in this case is they accomplish the task but leave a litany of broken people who feel used. Usually the visionary oriented people damage others wittingly or unwittingly, and so when they have another task to accomplish they do not find those that previously worked with them willing to do so anymore as they would have lost all the goodwill they might once have held.
The Responsive Dynamic is that part of leadership that is focused on managing relationships. 
Those who are more inclined towards this are fixated on people and how they feel. The challenge here is that such people do not accomplish very much eventually; you probably are not going to get things done and deadlines met if you are a responsive oriented person or you commit to a responsive oriented person time bound objectives that will require team work. 
Such a person will spend all his time mothering and smothering people until the deadline passes; he is the regular Mr. Nice Guy who cares for people but the problem is he cares too much about people’s feelings to be of much use to them or the organization.

A good leader knows the right balance between the two and knows how to put the squeeze just enough on his people as well as the right moment to let it go.

If we place the two in a way in which they are inextricably intertwined we will have the right formula for effective leadership- Building bridges while accomplishing tasks.
The visionary oriented person builds walls and the responsive oriented person accomplishes very little tasks. But the good leader builds bridges while accomplishing tasks.

In the next article we will be looking at the 5 levels of leadership.
See you then.