We all have a natural leadership entry point and we can all grow into new levels of leadership. Or can we? Using John Maxwell’s, The 5 Levels of Leadership system, We start naturally at one of these 5 levels.

Leadership Level 1 – Position. 

Leadership Level 2 – Permission. 

Leadership Level 3 – Production. 

Leadership Level 4 – People Development. 

Leadership Level 5 – Pinnacle.

John Maxwell says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. The greatest leadership is by example. You must do, act, say, and be the person you want your team to be. Leadership is a visual thing. You cannot take others on a journey with an unknown destination”.

In business and in life I am naturally a Level 3 leader. My comfort zone is production mode and people follow me because of my track record. That trust of me “having done it before”. 

Now that’s great however in business, scaling up need’s duplication. “To create something that doesn’t require our direct involvement, we need to be able to duplicate effectively.” Josh Kaufman

How do we duplicate? When we are in relationships with our teams, people follow us because they want to. This is being a Level 2 Leader in the Maxwell system, verses to being a Level 1 leader where people only follow us “if they believe that they have to.”  

So, in my case I was trying to be a Level 4 Leader, driving that duplication by trying to grow my people and I kept failing. Why? As a Level 4 Leader, “people will follow you because of what you’ve done for them personally.” The goal being to identify and develop as many leaders as I could by investing in them and helping them grow. Sounds easy unless you have been a lone wolf all of your life. 

What’s a lone wolf? Because I am a natural producer, I have stayed in my comfort zone and powered ahead. By Myself! Not stepping on others to succeed, simply just not taking them with me. This comes from being the shy kid, the introvert, the one who ran from being with others. As I have grown up and gotten into business, my business stalled consequently, not experiencing the growth that time and input should have showed. 

I understand the logic. It is important to build trust with your team in order to be an effective leader. A good leader should be open and honest with their team, listen to their ideas and concerns, and make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. Showing your team that you care about them and their success will help to create a strong connection and inspire them to follow you. I get it.

Maxwell’s book helped me understand the impact of my being a lone wolf. I cannot go to being a level 4 leader, no matter how hard I try when I have skipped being a Level 2 leader – being in a relationship with my team. Expecting people to give me permission to lead them without me getting to know and connect with them, was an unrealisable dream.

So where does the growth have to start? For myself, actively letting myself be uncomfortable while being mindfully curious has helped. Listening, respectfully encouraging, showing compassion, fostering collaboration, investing my time and showing my appreciation has helped me grow. Am I still a work in progress? Yes, for sure and is it worth it? Absolutely!

The learning in life and business continues forever. Ultimately, I love that, no matter how uncomfortable it is at the time.