Levels of Leadership

If you’ve ever found yourself in a leadership position, whether it be on your school’s athletic team, in your fraternity or sorority, or in your student government association or professional association, you have probably asked yourself many times, “What does it take to become a good leader?”

I know, personally, that this topic has always intrigued me. Believe it or not, teachers are considered leaders too you know. You don’t have to manage anyone or tell someone what to do to be considered a leader. The fact is, if you’re in a position to influence anyone (which almost everyone is), then you’re a leader (sorry Charles Barkley — you are indeed a role model).

Reading dozens of books on the subject, a close friend of mine (What’s up John?) recommended a great book to me called “Developing the Leader Within You” by John C. Maxwell. Leadership just happens to be Maxwell’s area of expertise. Maxwell is the founder and president of INJOY, a leadership development institute committed to increasing the effectiveness of people in all areas of life. He’s written several books including the highly acclaimed, “Becoming a Person of Influence” (one of my all-time favorites).

In “Developing the Leader Within You,” Maxwell suggests that there are five level of leadership. Each level is a step, and you must be successful at each level before you can advance to the next. You can’t afford to skip over any of them. It’s a steady progression. I’ve highlighted those five levels for you. Below each of the levels are the characteristics you must possess before you can advance to the next level:

Level 1: Position (People follow you because they have to)

Do you know your job thoroughly?
Do you do your job with consistent excellence?
Do you do more than what’s expected of you?
Do you accept responsibility for the failures as well as the successes?
Do you offer creative ideas for change and improvement?

Level 2: Permission (People follow you because they want to)

Do you possess a genuine love for people?
Do you make those who work around you more successful?
Do you always look for “win-win” outcomes and compromises?
Do you include others in your plans?
Do you deal wisely with difficult people?

Level 3: Production (People follow you because of what you have done for the organization/team)

Do you initiate and accept responsibility for growth?
Do you follow a statement of purpose?
Do you develop accountability for results, beginning with yourself?
Do you communicate the strategy and vision of the team or organization?
Do you make the difficult decisions that will make a difference?

Level 4: People Development (People follow you because of what you have done for them)

Do you place a priority on developing people?
Do you realize that people are your most valuable asset?
Do see yourself as a model others should follow?
Do you attract other leaders and producers to the common goal?

Level 5: Personhood (People follow you because of who you are and what you represent)

Are your followers loyal and sacrificial (i.e., willing to put it all on the line for you)?
Are you considered a mentor to younger members in your organization?
Are you excited about watching others develop their skills to lead?
Has the organization gone to a higher level because of your leadership?

If you are a student leader on your campus, use this list to maximize your strengths and build up your weaknesses. Some of the qualities listed above may have come naturally to you, but other qualities may still continue be a struggle for you; that’s okay. The key is awareness. The first step in fixing a problem is identifying the problem.

If you would like to see RealWorld University address any of the leadership qualities listed above, please feel free to write us with your comments and questions. Thanks for visiting RealWorld University, and please come again. And as always, live purposefully.

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