The Better Leader You Are, The More Influence You Have

Have you heard of John Maxwell?  He is a well-known leadership expert and coach. I have several of his books on my bookshelf.  He speaks a great deal about the servanthood of leadership and the influence (as opposed to power) you have over others.


One of his long-time philosophies has been the 5 LEVELS OF LEADERSHIP.  As we develop and grow, we find ourselves moving from level to level, perhaps without knowing it. Each level represents the amount of positive influence that we have on others. 


If you knew what each level represented, you would see what you could do to grow your influence. 


It’s rather like driving around and hoping to end up where you want to be. Yet, at the same time, leaving it to chance as to whether you get there or not.  

Leadership Levels Apply to Your Life in General

As I summarize his leadership levels, I want you to appreciate that they apply to life in general – not just in organizations. Each level is dependent on what you learned in the last level. 


They build upon each other. 


Leaders at Level 5 are still incorporating the behaviors that they demonstrated at Level 1.


John Maxwell’s Leadership Levels


Level 1 – Position Leadership

Leading by position is the lowest level of leadership because it requires no ability or effort.  People follow you because they must. 

People often use their Level 1 Leadership Position to get compliance from people only by using their authority. I guarantee none of us enjoy being on the receiving end of that kind of leadership.

If you are in Level 1 because of the job title on your business card, this is the perfect time to invest in your personal growth as a leader.  You can begin learning to lead yourself by establishing priorities and self-discipline. 


 Level 2  – Permission Leadership


People follow you because they want to, not because they have to.


At this stage of our leadership journey, we are getting to know the people we lead. We connect with people and find commonalities by merely showing up and being interested in them as human beings. 


Trust grows when you validate each person for the value that they bring as individuals and the impact that they have.   At this stage, you begin to develop influence.


Trusting relationships develop through permission leadership and create the foundation for the next level, production leadership.


Level 3 – Production Leadership


You will continue to grow your influence and credibility because of your results – tangible proof that they can get stuff done. These leaders have teams that share the successes as they also experience positive results and become motivated.


Work gets done, morale improves, and goals are achieved – leading to an overall heightened sense of “we are getting better.”


Level 4 – People Development


What an exciting stage when leaders identify and help grow others.


I love thinking of leadership as being like a gardener. Our job is to provide a nurturing environment where plants can grow and bloom – becoming the very best version of themselves that they can be. These influencers are generous with their time and their experience. They lead by developing others.


Creating a culture of learning and growing is an opportunity that Level 4 leaders embrace. 


In fact, the name of our company, Fiore Group, is taken from the Italian Word to grow – to bloom – to get better.

Level 5 – Pinnacle


PINNACLE – where people follow as a result of who the person is and what they represent.


Maxwell talks about this level being equally challenging and rewarding and requiring intentionality and longevity. 


Level 5 leaders grow and develop Level 5 organizations and communities of practice – they are developing and creating a legacy by what they do.


All of us want to make a difference with our lives – it is one of our core purposes for being on this planet: to count for something – to matter.


As Maxwell says, “Never underestimate the power of one person of influence.”