The five levels of leadership
CHAYAN BHATTACHARJEE Feb 08,2013
The Brief: Becoming an effective leader is a lot like being in the stock market.
You don’t make your fortune in a day; you make it daily, a little bit at a time. What mattersmost is what you do day after day, over the long haul. The secret to leadership success is investing in your leadership development, much like letting your assets compound. The final result is “Leadership Growth” over time.
Leaders aren’t born; they are made. The process of leadership is long, complicated and is made of various elements. Respect, dignity, discipline, people skills, vision,emotional strength, opportunity, preparedness and experience are just some of the intangible elements which come into play when talking leadership. We can, over a period of time, increase our leadership potential if we can understand and accept the five levels of leadership which would be discussed in this title.
Level One – Leadership from Position
This is the basic level of leadership. At this level people follow you because they have to. Your ability to lead people is totally geared by your position and does not exceed beyond the lines of your job description or the authority granted to you by the company and your boss. Your security with the company is based on title and position, not talent.
To be an effective leader at this level you need to know your job, be prepared to accept responsibility, exercise authority with caution, assess the strengths and short comings of your people, do more than what is expected and challenge people with interesting and tough assignments. It is important that we recognize that Positional Level is the doorway to leadership and every successful leader must pass through this doorway.
Level Two – Leadership from Respect
At the respect level of leadership people follow you because they want to which is the core of Leadership. People see you as a mission partner, sharing the same goals and the same challenges along the way. Leadership will flourish because respect will breed lasting trusted professional relationships and that, in turn will provide the basis for effective leadership.
To be effective at the respect level, you need to possess a genuine concern for your people. It is important that you see life through their eyes, in other words you need to be highly empathetic. Deal wisely with difficult people and make employees or mission partners successful by setting them up for success. Since leadership from respect is built on mission objective relationships, it forms the foundation for leadership success.
Level Three – Leadership from Results
People follow you because of what you have done for the company or for the mission. People admire you for your accomplishments and respect your tenacity. At this point leadership becomes fun. Going to work is fun, work related challenges are seen to be opportunities for a more stable work environment people emulate what you do and you can create unbelievable outcomes the purpose of minds of all people or team members around you are aligned to your intention of achieving the mission objective. Resistance power to novel ideas that you may come forthwith will have little strength as the group has accepted your leadership in a wholesome manner.Good things happen at the results level. Making profit, low employee turnover, higher employee morale and solving problems with ease are some of the items that become evident at this level.
To be an effective leader at this level, be prepared to initiate and accept responsibility for growth by developing a purpose and seeing it through to completion. Develop accountability for results, beginning with you and ending with your people. Make the difficult decisions that will result in positive long term gains while championing change as a change agent and understanding the process of change. Own up the responsibility for failure if any in the project but give the credit to the team for attaining success. Leadership from results is built on admiration for the leader.
Level Four – Leadership from People Development
People follow you because of what you have done for them. It is a leader’s responsibility to develop their people so that they can do the work that is expected to contribute for the future growth opportunities of the company or organization and the people who serve it. People are loyal to you because they see firsthand personal growth opportunities for them as well as the company. The see a symbiotic growth design. Leadership success is underscored by a win – win scenario and a high commitment to success.
To be effective at this level place a priority on developing people. Focus your attention on the fact that people are your most valuable asset which has no depreciation rate or period and your leadership success will depend on your ability to surround yourself with an inner core of competent people who compliment your leadership style and goals. Leadership from people development is built on loyalty and firm belief on mutual growth.
Level Five – Leadership from Mentorship
People follow you because they respect you. As a leader your image is bigger than life and your success is shown through a life of accomplishments. People seek you out after you have left the company because you have left an indelible mark on the organization and the employees.
Although less than five per cent of all leaders will get to this level of leadership (John Mayberry from Dofasco, Darek Nowakowski from Con Agra and Clare Proctor from E.D. Smith come to mind) it is a level worth striving for. In all others levels, your leadership is tested when you are there, but in this level leadership effect is examined when you are not there.
To put all the levels of leadership in perspective, position or title is the lowest level of leading people and if you have to remind your people that you are the boss – you,probably, aren’t leading much. So from the very inception of your leadership phase,ensure that you develop an eco system where respect is determined by the command of your work and not by any demand. All of the leadership levels when done well over time would lead to the respect you were anticipating at the highest level – because you would be living the Personhood of a Leader.