According to John C. Maxwell in his book How Successful People Lead, there are 5 levels of leadership that can be achieved in order of Position, Permission, Production, People Development, and finally, The Pinnacle level of leadership.
The level of Position leadership is, as it sounds, when a person is appointed as a leader or to a position of management.
Usually, such an assignment to leadership comes because the person has been recognized as possessing qualities of promising leadership potential, this level of leadership has the least amount of influence on others. Without positional leadership, however, a person can never lead a group of people to accomplish anything because the next four kinds of leadership, or levels of leadership, are made possible by positional leadership.
The Permission level of leadership is achieved when followers begin to take direction from a positional leader, not because their leadership status, but because they have taken a liking to them, begun to believing in them, and/or started to trusting them as a leader.
Permission to lead is achieve through developing a genuine relationship with followers. Because the highest levels of leadership hinge on the development of others, in achieving the Permission level a leader is beginning to understanding the work-life variables that will need to be accounted for when helping a follower achieve their full potential.
The Production level of leadership is all about measuring deliverables. The purpose of leadership is always to achieve some greater goal or set of objectives, and the Production level of leadership is where really great team members can be distinguish from true leaders, people capable of leading towards actual group accomplishment.
In achieving the Production level of leadership tough decisions have to be made.
Often, recognizing the failed investment of building a relationship with individuals who hinder the achievement potential of the team as a whole has to take place. This can mean removing or isolating an individual that, for one reason or another, is inhibiting progress.
The level of People Development leadership is achieved by mentoring others to be competent leaders in their own right. By reaching this level a leader expands their own reach by teaching others to lead in their absence. In a large organization this can free a leader to concentrate on higher level tasks or decision that need to be made while lower level leaders manage day-to-day leadership tasks.
The Pinnacle level of leadership, the highest level of leadership, is reached by developing followers into leaders that continue to serve their own followers through development, creating a perpetuating network of quality leaders throughout a team or organization.
As explained by Maxwell in How Successful People Lead each of these different kinds of leadership play a big role in the success and failure of teams and organization. He also goes on to explain the limitation to each level of leadership –even the Pinnacle level of leadership – and how individuals can develop themselves to achieving each level and also avoid falling from the Pinnacle level of leadership.
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