Level 5 Leadership


Over three decades ago, I heard one of my earliest leadership mentors, Dr. John Maxwell, speak about the five levels of leadership. He described them this way:

1) POSITION (Rights) People follow you because they have to.

2) PERMISSION (Relationships) People follow you because they want to.

3) PRODUCTION (Results) People follow because of what you have done for the organization.

4) PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT (Reproduction) People follow because of what you have done for them.

5) PINNACLE (Respect) People follow because of who you are and what you represent.

As a young 30-something church planter, I set my sights on Level 5.

About 15 years later, Jim Collins book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t was published and I was introduced to another definition of the five levels of leadership. Collins and his team had researched the best performing companies in America to find out what commonalities were true of these companies that had performed far above the market average over a sustained period. Some of the key commonalities I recall were the Flywheel Effect, the Hedgehog Effect, Confronting the Brutal Facts, Getting the Right People on the Bus and Level 5 Leadership. Collins identified Level 5 leaders as humble and driven to do what’s best for the company.

Once again, something about Jim Collins discussion of Level 5 leadership caught my attention. I wanted to be a great leader, not just a good one. So, I tried to be brutally honest with myself at that stage of my leadership. Am I a Level 5 leader? Do people follow me because of who I am and what I represent? Am I walking with humility or has my success of starting and growing a larger-than-average church distorted my ego? Am I driven to do what’s best for the organization I launched some 15 years prior?  My answers  continued to direct my focus toward Level 5 Leadership.

Ultimately, an honest conversation with myself, led me to a five-year process of developing a succession plan in my organization, Cape Christian. If the church I started and was leading, was going to thrive beyond my tenure, I needed to make sure it was set up for success. Way too often, I had watched churches go through a life cycle; growth, stabilization, stagnation, and decline. I couldn’t think of anything more disappointing in my leadership journey than to watch my major leadership investment fade to a declining second-rate organization during my older years when I wanted to move toward lessening involvement. So, I prepared a succession plan for a younger leader to take the lead role, sooner, rather than later.

Want to hear more? My next blog post will be a more detailed discussion of Level 5 Leadership and the characteristics that Jim Collins found in the greatest leaders. And, then, I will post a blog to share with you how I developed my succession plan over ten years ago and the amazing successes in our organization during this journey. Stay tuned!


NOTE:  I would love to hear your comments about Level 5 Leaders that you have encountered along the way.  And I would be honored if you share this new blog with others who might be interested!



2 Replies to “Level 5 Leadership”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.