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These 10 Tips Will Help You Rise Through the 5 Levels of Leadership

Are you struggling with being an effective leader? Mastering these 5 levels of leadership will help you succeed effortlessly through the ranks.

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Are you struggling with being an effective leader? Mastering these 5 levels of leadership will help you succeed effortlessly through the ranks.


You are never too old to start your leadership development journey. Leadership skills apply to all aspects of your life, not just your career. You don’t have to be special to become a leader. All you have to do is know the five levels of leadership, as stated by John C. Maxwell in his book The 5 Levels of Leadership.

When you think about accomplished leaders, names like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Oprah Winfrey pop up. The good news is you can be a great leader with the right principles, motivation, and support. Many great leaders started as employees and crawled their way to the top. We all know the come-up story of Oprah Winfrey when she was fired from her first job as a news reporter. Through this loss, she found her calling and has won awards, including an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

Anyone can sit on an executive spinning chair in a spacious corner office and delegate work. However, very few people can effectively lead teams and coordinate tasks to completion successfully. So, you might be wondering where you stand on the levels of leadership and how to get to the next level. Well, worry no more. We’ve got your back.


What are the five levels of leadership?

The five levels of leadership represent the process you have to go through to get to the apex of leadership, which means you cannot become a leader overnight. The levels of leadership are popular and have successfully helped leaders like the Ex-COO of Microsoft, B. Kevin Turner, to get to where they are today. These five levels of leadership, also known as the five ‘Ps,’ are:

Level 1: Position

Position level is the first step of your leadership journey. As the name suggests, this level has everything to do with your position. Here, you are probably in charge of your team or a department at work, and people follow you because they have to. The power of your job position is the only thing that gets work done. It involves relying on regulations, policies, and company rules to lead other employees.

Level 2: Permission

The Permission stage is also known as the relationship stage, where people follow you as a personal choice. They permit you to be their leader because they value your input. At this stage, you understand that leadership is more about developing personal connections than authority.

Level 3: Production

The production level is also known as the results stage, where people follow you because of your input into the organization. Results speak volumes about your credibility and impact on the organization. At this stage, you have built a working relationship with your employees enough to deliver results. The trust between you and your employees allows you to delegate and count on them to deliver.

Level 4: People development

The 4th stage is the reproduction stage, where people will follow you because of what you have done for them. For example, their careers will skyrocket because of their proximity to you. The reproduction level allows you to give back to society by holding the hands of other aspiring leaders who have begun their journey. You will have to invest your money, time, and energy into the development of other leaders. People development is about your legacy and leaving a mark on other people. Think about mentoring, training talent, and preparing a path for future leaders.

Level 5: Pinnacle

When you hit the pinnacle stage, you're at the top of the food chain. People follow you because of your qualities, personality, and the respect they have for you. Every leader wants to get to this level of leadership. The truth is that it can’t happen overnight. 

Unlike the other levels of leadership, the 5th stage is about improving the next generation of leaders. You have to aspire to mentor others and achieve your success through other people’s success. Mentoring is the theme of the 5th level of leadership.


10 tips to rise through the five levels of leadership

Now that you understand the five levels of leadership, you must be wondering how you too can become crème de la crème. Well, honestly, being a leader is like being a parent. There is no manual. You have to hit the ground running. However, when you apply these tips, you can start running your race on solid ground.

1. Do some shadow work

Shadow work involves managing and learning more about yourself. As you start the levels of leadership, you have to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Do a self-audit or ask your peers to help you out. Through shadow work, you will learn your leadership style and can customize it to rise through the levels of leadership.

2. Appreciate and recognize the input of your employees

Now that you know your leadership style, you need to learn more about the people who work for you. What are their fears, beliefs, values, and motivations? In this case, listening to and observing the employees is enough; don’t go beyond the working relationship. Everyone likes feeling appreciated and recognized at work. Harvard Business Review revealed that recognition at work would motivate 40% of employees to work harder.

3. Get a mentor

The truth is, you can’t achieve the five levels of leadership on your own. You have to get guidance from someone with more experience and knowledge in your field. Getting a career coach or mentor is the shortcut to success that we all need. Furthermore, it will teach you how to mentor others when you get to level five of leadership.

4. Be a team player

Michael Jordan once said talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. Anyone can lead a team, but few people can be great leaders. For example, you could be the most talented and brightest person in the room, but if you try to do all the work, you will get burned out. Delegating work is a core skill for all leaders.

Being a team player starts with building trust among your co-workers. Celebrate their wins, be open-minded and reliable, and appreciate their input. Once there is trust, you will comfortably delegate and trust that your employees meet your work standards.

5. Define your goals

Have a priority goal, something your employees can work towards achieving. With a clear mission, your actions will align with achieving your goals and values. Therefore, you should set, define, and communicate a clear work goal for your organization to build a strong team.

6. Stay humble

Humility includes leading by example. Get your feet dirty once in a while rather than delegating everything from your corner office. Serving others will help in building respect and trust among your employees.

7. Encourage professional and personal growth

Show some interest in the growth and success of your employees. Take time to empower your employees to learn and build their skills through training and online courses. Provide challenging opportunities at work to expand their experience and knowledge. For example, you can expose them to a challenging work situation or client to test their problem-solving skills. 

8. Maintain a positive attitude

A big part of the five levels of leadership is learning how to deal with obstacles daily. Handling a negative situation at the workplace speaks volumes about your leadership skills. In the book The Measure of a Leader by Robert Mann, you should maintain a positive attitude by picking out the positive parts of a situation before identifying the negative. Focusing on the positive aspects of a challenge as you tackle the negative ones will help maintain a positive attitude.

9. Give constructive feedback during performance reviews

Providing and receiving honest feedback is the only way to guide your team in the right direction. Use performance reviews to teach and communicate the basic principles to individual employees. Once the guiding principles are in place, you can set deadlines, regular check-ins, future performance reviews, structure, and processes. Don’t forget to recognize the input and accomplishments of employees during their performance reviews.

10. Be open to new ideas

Your emotional intelligence plays a big part in the five levels of leadership. Embracing change, ideas, and different ways of thinking will skyrocket your leadership journey. When you open up to actively listening to all the thoughts around you, you embrace your true potential and possibility. Always allow team members to take part in problem-solving.



Leadership is all about growth and continuous improvement. The five levels of leadership give you a markup of where you are in your leadership journey and what you do to get to the next level. We would like to know, where are you in your leadership journey? 

Written by

Lilian Nerima Musonge

Nerima Musonge is a Lawyer who is passionate about Content Creation and Copywriting. She is constantly trying to broaden her artistic pursuits and find out how they can integrate with the law. When she is not squinting behind a laptop, she is mothering, cracking jokes, and living her best life

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