Adam Drake

Notes on John Maxwell's Five Levels of Leadership

Leadership is influence.

Note: when you talk about your vision with people, they see you through the lens of these levels. So the person who sees you in level 1 will not absorb or be motivated by the vision in the same way as someone who sees you in level 4.

You get the position and the title. Basically nothing here besides imparted authority. People follow you because it’s their job, or they must for some reason. The upside is you get to start working on yourself. The people will give you the least amount of their energy, effort, and mind.

A leader at this level is effective because they build relationships with people in their team and they are likable.

At this level you have rapport with your people, everyone generally likes each other. The leader is generally likable and is seen as constructive.

Relationships with people are the foundation of leadership and you cannot have a relationship with people that are antagonized or irritated by you.

People on this level do 3 things well:

  • Listen

  • Observe

  • Learn

In the process of doing those 3 things, the leaders have an attitude of servitude. They exist to serve their people.

At this level, the effectiveness of leaders is measured by what they can produce and how they help the bottom line. They produce by examples of how to be effective and productive.

Be a tour guide, not a travel agent.

Leaders here gain credibility from their teams by fleshing out and modeling for the people around them the things that they want to see and need to produce. By these acts they start to attract people who want to produce like they do.

We attract who we are, not what we want.

At this level, who you are as a leader is who you attract on your team. Much problem solving is taken care of here.

Managers try to solve problems, but leaders try to create momentum. Leaders know you can solve 80% of problems with momentum. A train traveling at 100kph will smash through a 2m thick concrete block with ease, but if you put a 2cm block in front of the wheels when it’s stopped it won’t even be able to get moving (or will have a hard time doing so).

This level is all about people development. The most appreciable asset you have in an organization is the people in that organization. You commit yourself to developing the people, and you grow the company by growing the people.

Three thoughts on developing people:

  • The key to developing good people is recruitment. The better people you bring in, the more you can do with them. Eighty percent of your success of equipping people to be successful is on the front door when you decide whom to hire.

  • Positioning. Put the people you recruit in the right places. Successful people always position themselves well. People are successful because they have found their sweet spot. Successful leaders discover what other people are good at. Successful people position themselves well, but successful leaders position other people well too.

  • Equipping people. Development and training. The 5 step equipping process

    • I do it

    • I do it and you’re with me

    • You do it and I’m with you

    • You do it

    • You do it and somebody’s with you (CRITICAL STEP - you never really equip somebody until they can equip somebody else)

This is the pinnacle level. You’ve done so well by so many for so long that people just absolutely follow you. They follow you because of who you are, the qualities of have, and what you’ve done.

The full video is on YouTube.