I came up with the idea of five distinct levels of leadership many years ago, and first described the concept in a book in Developing the Leader Within You. Making the shift from Position to Permission brings a person’s first real step into leadership. When people feel liked, cared for, included, valued, and trusted, they begin to work together with their leader and each other. Production qualifies and separates true leaders from people who merely occupy leadership positions. Good leaders on Level 4 invest their time, energy, money, and thinking into growing others as leaders.
Like his books, all of John Maxwell’s leadership development and personal growth articles are easy to understand and easy to implement.
The John Maxwell Learning systems can be given as a regular training event or a learning process over the course of a number of weeks. The training event is great to pass on information about how to accomplish certain management and leadership tasks, but the learning process helps to change behaviors. We can also offer the John Maxwell Companies 360 Degree Assessment and can meet with each employee to debrief them on the results. Learn how to identify with people and relate to others in a way that increases your influence with them. We venerate great leaders, and we have the tendency to assume their accomplishments came about regardless of the assistance they received from others.
People are inspired by and desire to be like great leaders yet become overwhelmed by the perceived knowledge needed to learn the skills of leadership. Whatever your vocation or aspiration, you can increase your impact on others by Becoming a Person of Influence. Each chapter is packed with information on how to live a better life, develop sustaining relationships and lead others.


Learning is not easy during down times; it takes discipline to do the right thing when everything is wrong. And in 2011, I devoted an entire book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, to exploring the levels – their upsides, downsides, the best behaviors for that level, the beliefs that help a leader move up to the next level, and how the level relates to the Laws of Leadership.
Leadership is influence, and when a leader learns to function on the Permission level, everything changes. The ability to create a high-productivity team, department, or organization indicates a higher level of leadership ability than most others display. Not only is leadership at this level a culmination of leading well on the other four levels, but it also requires both a high degree of skill and some amount of natural leadership ability. For direct access to new leadership articles each month, subscribe to John's blog, John Maxwell on Leadership. To be a successful leader, you need to learn to communicate in a way that connects with others. The truth, however, is that no leader would be great without the support and help of teammates. It is a rather simple recipe yet requires awareness, study, practice and mentoring to achieve.
Learn simple, insightful ways to interact more positively with others, and watch your personal and organizational success go off the charts. This means that position is a fine starting point, but every leader should aspire to grow beyond Level 1. But to reach the upper levels of leadership that create elite organizations, leaders must transition from producers to developers. Leaders on the People Development level of leadership shift their focus from the production achieved by others to the development of their potential.
It takes a lot to be able to develop other leaders so that they reach Level 4; that’s what Level 5 leaders do.


Leadership at this high level lifts the entire organization and creates an environment that benefits everyone in it, contributing to their success. For permission to reprint or reproduce any content in these articles please complete this Copyright Permission Form.
Participants are assigned a chapter per week with questions to discuss during that chapters review.
They rely on rules, regulations, policies, and organization charts to control their people.
When that is the case, it’s usually because they lack the self-discipline, work ethic, organization, or skills to be productive. And they put only 20 percent of their focus on their personal productivity while putting 80 percent of it on developing and leading others. The individuals who reach Level 5 lead so well for so long that they create a legacy of leadership in the organization they serve. Level 5 leaders often possess an influence that transcends the organization and the industry the leader works in. Not only are they productive individually, but they also are able to help the team produce.
This can be a difficult shift for highly productive people who are used to getting their hands dirty, but it’s a change that can revolutionize an organization and give it a much brighter future.
With gratitude and humility, they should lift up as many leaders as they can, tackle as many great challenges as possible, and extend their influence to make a positive difference beyond their own organization and industry. Either you’re producing for the organization and adding to its bottom line (whatever that may be), or you’re not.



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