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Book: 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell


Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. ~Jack Welch

I picked the book ‘5 Levels of Leadership’ by John Maxwell as the text for my upcoming training class. I chose the book based on the description in the overleaf without having actually read the book. Some would think this is a bit reckless but I have been following John Maxwell since my early 30s and knew he was quality when it comes to the topic of leadership. When it comes to leadership knowledge and training, he is brilliant.

I have since devoured the book, highlighted so many of his pearls of wisdom in the process that the book, rather the eBook, looks yelllowed by time. (I must say I am completely smitten with having an eBook reader because I always have a variety of books at my fingertip.) This book aligns perfectly with the six sessions I had planned for my leadership training sessions, gives a very solid structure to my vision for my students.

My plan is for the first session to be an introduction to leadership, a general overview of what it means to be a leader, an assessment as to where they are on the leadership path, why they want to lead. This is key because if they want to lead for power they are in the wrong class. If their desire is to lead for the good of the led, then they are, in my opinion, fit to begin their journey through the 5 levels. The sessions are one month apart so they will have time to view the world through lenses tinted by their growing understanding of what it means to be a leader, what it means to answer the call of leadership.

The second session will dovetail nicely with their current place in the company. Everyone that has applied, so far, is in a Level One leadership role or their next step will be to a Level One leadership role. Level One  is the entry level and is characterized by leadership based on having a position of authority. I have added material to supplement the reading they will undertake before they come to the second session, materials designed to cement the ideas into their heads. Leaving this class, they will have an understanding that the next level, the one the want to get to relatively quickly, is based on relationship with their team.

Level two relationships requires empathy, is a level which is make or break for these aspiring leaders. Engineers are not known for their ability to empathize so, this level, will require them to stretch. It will require them to go deep with the people they lead. If they care about people, this will be relatively easy. If they don’t then they will be miserable and will be forever consigned to be a level one leader.

It will be interesting to see how many of them have what it takes to excel at levels one and two and how many have what the character to move on to levels 3, 4, and 5. My execution of this training class will be one of my few forays into level four leadership. This will let me know if I have what it takes to operate as a level four leader or if I am living in a world of self delusion.

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