Many people have used the word influence in their definitions of leadership. I believe, Leadership is an influence process. John Maxwell and others have written about five levels of leadership. Maxwell’s terms for these are Level one, Positional, Level two, Permission, Level three, Production, Level four, People Development, and Level five, Personhood. Level one being the lowest level of leadership, where the least amount of true leading actually takes place, and level five being the highest level, a level very few people ever attain.
When entering a new position or job promotion, most everyone will enter at level one. You are not yet proven in this position. Therefore, you must lead from position. The only leadership credential you have with employees (volunteers) is that of a title. People will follow for a short time a person who only leads from level one, positional leadership. Sooner than later, using your position to accomplish the work and goals of your organization, will wane. So will morale and attitudes within the organization. People will begin to leave your organization, beginning with the best workers and potential leaders. I literally scratch and shake my head when I see people attempting to lead via positional leadership. Especially when it appears this is the only leadership style he/she knows. It is plainly ineffective as a leadership style.
Level one leadership has also been known for decades as autocratic leadership. Autocratic leaders are authoritarian leaders and this type of leadership dates back to some of the earliest tribes known to have recorded information. Here’s one small snippet of what Wikipedia says about this type of leadership: “An authoritarian leadership style is exemplified when a leader dictates policies and procedures, decides what goals are to be achieved, and directs and controls all activities without any meaningful participation by the subordinates…The group is expected to complete the tasks under very close supervision, while unlimited authority is granted to the leader.”
Level one leadership will severely strangle the effectiveness of any organization. Using the five levels of leadership listed above, the highest level of effectiveness and organizational success comes with the highest level of leadership, level five. True effectiveness of leadership begins to appear in level three, production, and rises as the leadership rises to level four and five.
The higher levels in leadership represent more supportive roles by leadership, whereas lower levels represent directive roles from leaders. Autocratic leaders expect results, my way. Subordinates have no say in how something is to be carried out.
Higher level, supportive leadership, on the other hand, gives freedom and empowers subordinates. You will see more of a democratic leadership style in place in these organizations. Involvement of followers (subordinates) in decision making.
Autocratic – derives power from position or title – expect results my way – morale killer.
Democratic – places an emphasis on personal power of every person in the organization – morale booster = effectiveness.
If you are a leader ask yourself this question: “If I were not in leadership, which of these would I want to serve/work under?” I believe you’ll choose the higher level democratic leader. So, why not begin today, striving to become one. Set your goals to progress through the levels of leadership, striving to become the highest level leader you possibly can be.
Your true leadership style is the behavior pattern that you use with other people when trying to influence them, as they perceive it. (Not what you think it is, but as they perceive you)
George Yates is a Life Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in reaching their full God-given potential.