Levels of leadership

Levels of leadership
See also

John C. Maxwell defines 5 levels of leadership:

  • Level 1 - Position - “People follow you because they have to.”
  • Level 2 - Permission - “People follow you because they want to.”
  • Level 3 - Production - „People follow because of what you have done for the organization. “
  • Level 4 - People development - “People follow because of what you have done for them.”
  • Level 5 - Pinnacle - “People follow you because of who you are and what you represent.”

Position – level 1[edit]

This is the doorway to the leadership. It mean that person is on this level where he can manage an organization with no problem. This position is achievable for everyone. That is why it does not describe the leadership qualities. Leader has almost no impact or a really small one on others. His responsibility is to make sure things are done. He only uses his position to achieve that because he has no knowledge about different solutions. People from this level are never truly leaders, the most they can achieve is being a boss.

Permission – level 2[edit]

The key to open the door to 2nd level is ‘’relationships’’. Person on leader's position need to focus on having a good relationships with his employees. It is also a person who is able to encourage people to maintain good connections with others. Leader can help employees to realize that doing their best makes sense. It is because employees have a trust in a leader and they are in a good relationship with him. Manager motivates people around him and it is easier to convince co-workers to follow his decision. Hence, whatever goals the leader has, employees will follow. Teams with leader on 2nd level, with a permission to actually be a leader, have a more positive attitude than the ones on 1st level.

Production – level 3[edit]

Achieving this level is a little more than having a good relationship with employees. This is about what benefits can leader get from working with people who trust and believe in one another, how much can this team – this people – produce. The key of this level is the possibility of measurement the leader's results. Leader at 3rd level is a part of the team, employees like him, but on the other hand he can be treated as a threat.

People development – level 4[edit]

At fourth level this is all about encouraging people to develop. For a growing company it is very important to have leaders at this level. This leader does everything to give an employee the possibility to learn and evaluate. One of the tool the leader uses is delegating work. This gives employees the feeling that someone believes in them and they are doing their best to achieve the goal so as not to disappoint expectations. It is important that leader informs co-worker about the confidence he has in them. At this level production is not as important anymore. But what the leader achieves here is the chain effect, when he teaches other how to be a leader it gives a value to a company.

Pinnacle – level 5[edit]

This level is very difficult to achieve. There is not a lot of leaders on 5th level. Person on this level presents exceptional abilities to create and train a lot of leaders who can be 4th level leaders. Leadership at this level brings up all company and makes it a desirable environment to work in. Leader at 5th level is being put up as an example and other wants to be like him. Even after work, employees still have leader's words, actions and behavior in mind and try to imitate[1][2]



  1. Maxwell, J. C. (1993). Developing the leader within you, p. 5-11
  2. Maxwell, J. C (2011). 5 levels of leadership, p. 3-12

Author: Ewelina Kruszewska