Levels of Leadership

Last weekend I participated in my church’s leadership retreat. These two days were set aside to motivate and inspire the leaders within the church so that we might effectively carry out the vision of our church. Our theme this year is “founded by faith, focused on family”. Our focus for this year’s retreat was learning to be servant leaders. Our presenter for the Friday night session introduced many of us to John C. Maxwell.

Dr. John C. Maxwell is an author, speaker and pastor, who has written many books, primarily focusing on leadership. We watched and discussed a small clip from one of his speeches about leadership. Because of this class, I was even more interested in researching him further. In my quest, I came across his philosophy on the levels of leadership, about which he has written several books and  given numerous speeches.

Although I learned about Dr. Maxwell’s teachings in a church setting, much of what he believes about leadership can be applied to any type of leadership. A true leader often leads in many facets of life. Often our leadership roles are intertwined and correlated. Therefore, I could easily see how Dr. Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership could be applied to educational leadership.

In this speech, Dr. Maxwell details his beliefs about the levels of leadership that are found in his book , The 5 Levels of Leadership.

Level 1: Position- Described as the lowest level of leadership. People only follow the leader because they have to because of their position. Many people at this level are bosses, not leaders.

Level 2: Permission- Described as the first real step into leadership. People follow the leader because they want to. Leaders on this level begin to influence followers with relationship.

Level 3: Production- People follow leaders at this level because of what they have done for the organization. The productive leader makes things happen and gets results.

Level 4: People Development-Leaders on level 4 invest their time, energy , money and thinking into growing others as leaders. People follow them because of what the leaders have done for them.

Level 5: The Pinnacle- At this level, people follow leaders because of who they are and what they represent.  Leaders who reach level 5 lead so well for so long that they create a legacy of leadership in the organization they serve.

Although level 5 is described as the “pinnacle”, it is not the final resting place of a good leader. It is from this place that leaders should lift up as many leaders as they can and take on as many great challenges as possible. Few leaders ever reach this level but those who do are regarded as a cut above the others.


J. Maxwell. (2013,November 22). John Maxwell on Leadership:The 5 Levels of Leadership      Retrieved from http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/the-5-levels-of-leadership

Maxwell, J. (2013, September 10). The 5 Levels of Leadership. Retrieved from      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPwXeg8ThWI

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