The 5 Levels of Leadership

by Ron Haynes

The 5 Levels of Leadership

Becoming a leader in your organization is not always an easy task. Many times, we need to modify certain behavioral traits and much of the time, we need to abandon others altogether. NEVER make excuses just because” that’s the way I am.” We must constantly examine ourselves to insure that we’re connecting with our co-workers, bosses, subordinates, and customers in a positive meaningful way that drives business and relationships forward.

You don’t need, of course, to be your boss’s best friend but the relationships should be respectful and results oriented. Most people understand respectful, it’s the results oriented part that causes confusion.

Results orientation means that you think before you speak or act. Could my words or actions be demotivating or demoralizing? Could they cause someone to throw in the towel and just follow your instructions robotically? Could they cause someone to seek solace in or CareerBuilder?


Many people in business have experienced varying degrees of management prowess from their supervisors. Some have been inspiring and motivating while others … not so much. The good ones know themselves and have a pretty good idea about you too. The very best have learned to use powerful assessment products to learn their own behavioral tendencies and how to adapt them so that their communications are effective.

Here are the 5 levels of leadership. Where are you? Where do you want to be?

Level One – Title
Your influence will not extend beyond your title. No one takes what you say seriously unless it is associated with your realm of authority. Staying at this level will result in turnover, job dissatisfaction among your direct reports, and/or people overlooking you for advice. People roll their eyes when this type of leader shows up. If you constantly find yourself on the outside of the “goings on,” it could be because you’re only a title leader.

Level Two – Teamwork
People follow this type of leader because work is fun and enjoyable. This leader has followers by choice, not title, and people follow beyond this leader’s stated authority. People who have played team sports understand this leadership level and many, like Brian Lee of Genius Types prefer to work with and for those who have played team sports. You can access Brian’s article here. One warning though: staying at this level for too long will result in restlessness among highly motivated direct reports and they may seek opportunities for better leadership and career growth.

Level Three – Testimony
People follow this leader because of his or her contributions to the organization as a whole. People sense a level of success from leaders at this level and they generally like this leader. Challenges are easier to overcome because this leader naturally generates momentum. People are willing to talk about this leader in a positive sense to others inside and outside the organization.

Level Four – Training
People follow this leader because of his or her contributions to individuals since this leader develops people to a higher potential. When an organization has a large number of Level Four leaders it will experience long range growth. You should do whatever is necessary to achieve and stay at this leadership level.

Level Five – Treasure
People follow this leader out of deep respect. Leadership at this level is developed over years and people follow because of who the leader is and what he or she represents. Very few people ever make it to Level Five and those who do are treasured by individuals within and without the organization.

So there you have it. Where are you in this hierarchy of leadership? Where do you want to be? Resolve today that you will strive to become more than just a title leader or a team builder. Each person has an operating range for leadership and where you today isn’t necessarily where you’ll be three years from now. Make a decision that you will expand your leadership operating range by:

  • Reading and applying books on leadership.
  • Reading leadership blogs such as Leadership Now or Kevin Eikenberry’s Leadership Blog.
  • Studying great leaders and working to develop your own style.
  • Listening to how you and others respond to leaders in your organization.
  • Learning how to manage your emotions and responses to others.

Set a goal to become the leader you should be . . . the leader your organization, company, or family needs.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 988 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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