As a leader, you’re probably already familiar with John Maxwell’s work on leadership. He’s a best-selling author, coach and speaker, and was named the world’s most influential leadership expert by Inc. in 2014.

One of my favourite models from John is his 5 levels or stages of the leadership journey.

In this model, he talks about how many of us start at the bottom, or level 1 – we’re leaders by title and so our teams follow us because they have to. It’s obviously not a state we want to remain in for long: John talks about how he can always tell a level 1 organisation, because everyone’s packing up getting ready to leave half an hour before finishing time. They don’t really want to be there and are generally just turning up so they’ll get paid.

In level 2, things are starting to improve. You’ve made an effort to connect with your people: to really listen, observe and learn from them. You’ve built a connection and because of this, your people are happy to give you a little more discretionary effort – because they like you.

In level 3, things really begin ramping up. You’ve established some momentum with your team and shown them you can be effective because you can produce. You’ve worked in the trenches and achieved results – which feeds into your credibility. People see that you’re willing to put in the effort with them and are happy to follow your lead.

Level 4 is a whole new world. At this stage, you’ve realised that your people are the most important asset your business has and you know that when you increase the capacity of your people, you increase the capacity of the whole organisation. You’re focused on hiring the very best people, putting them in the right positions, and equipping them with everything they need to perform the way you expect them to.

Level 5 leaders are incredibly rare. They’re at the absolute top of their game and usually arrive there later in their careers, having worked hard to master the previous 4 levels. In many cases, they’re the ones helping the next generation make it to level 4.

As you can imagine, where you are on this leadership journey has a profound impact on your people. How your people behave at work is in many cases a direct reflection of you as a leader: the kind of people you’ve let in the door, including their skills and capacity, and the way you lead them.

We’ve put together this brief infographic to help you work out where you are in terms of the five stages.

John Maxwell - 5 levels of leadership

If you’d like some help understanding where your leadership is at, the impact it’s having on your team and how to improve, we’d be happy to help. You can get started right now with a free evaluation to assess your leadership style, skills and development areas.