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.
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.
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?
2 responses to “5 LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP”
Blessed and enriched by the depth of insight. Still evaluating cadre. I’ve got to improve. Permission to copy Sir! And of course with appropriate references. Keep this up.
Feel free brother