Why I wrote The 5 Levels of Leadership

It’s coming! I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe that August is already here. Before I know it, September and then October will arrive. And with October (on October 4, to be exact), comes my newest book, The 5 Levels of Leadership. With just weeks to go, I’ve decided to give you a sneak peek. For the next few posts, I’ll be sharing excerpts and concepts from the book right here on the blog. 
Today’s excerpt describes why I wrote The 5 Levels of Leadership. Hopefully it will give you an idea of what you can expect from the book:

You Can Have a Leadership Game Plan for Your Life

Leadership is one of my passions. So is teaching it. I’ve dedicated more than thirty years of my life to helping others learn what I know about leading. In fact, I spend about eighty days every year teaching leadership. In the last several years, I’ve taught about it on six continents. The subject is inexhaustible. Why? Because everything rises and falls on leadership. If you want to make a positive impact on the world, learning to lead better will help you do it.

In all the years that I’ve taught about leadership, there has been one lecture that I have been asked to give more often than any other—from West Point to Microsoft and in countries all around the world. That lecture explains how leadership works, and it provides a game plan for learning how to become a leader. It’s “The 5 Levels of Leadership.”

My belief that everything rises and falls on leadership solidified in 1976, and it set me on a leadership journey that I am still traveling to this day. I began the journey by asking many questions. How do you define leadership? What is a leader? How does leadership work? Unfortunately, people’s usual answers to those questions are not very helpful. Some people identify leadership with obtaining a leadership position. But I’ve known bad leaders who had good positions and good leaders who had no position at all. Haven’t you? Other people say of leadership, “I can’t describe it, but I know it when I see it.” While that may be true, it doesn’t help anyone learn how to lead.

The conclusion I came to early on is that leadership is influence. If people can increase their influence with others, they can lead more effectively. As I reflected on that, a concept for how leadership works began to crystallize in my mind. That concept was the 5 Levels of Leadership, which took me about five years to develop. I have been teaching it ever since. And whenever I present it, one of the questions people always ask is, “When are you going to write a book about this?” As you can see, I’m finally answering that question.

You Can Learn Practical Leadership Tools

There are a lot of books about leadership lining people’s bookshelves. Why should you read this one? Because it works. The 5 Levels has been used to train leaders in companies of every size and configuration, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. It has been used to help nonprofit organizations understand how to lead volunteers. And it’s been taught in more than 120 countries around the world. Every time I talk about it, people ask questions and make observations. Those things have helped the 5 Levels of Leadership to become stronger and to develop greater depth. The concept is tested and proven. In addition, it offers several other benefits:

The 5 Levels of Leadership Provides a Clear Picture of Leadership

How do people get a handle on leadership? For those who are not naturally gifted for it, leadership can be a mystery. For them, leading people is like walking down a dark corridor. They have a sense of where they want to go, but they can’t see ahead and they don’t know where the problems and pitfalls are going to lie. For many people in the academic world, leadership is a theoretical exercise, an equation whose variables are worthy of research, study, and rigorous debate. In contrast, the 5 Levels of Leadership is visually straightforward, so anyone can learn it.

The 5 Levels of Leadership Defines Leading as a Verb, Not a Noun

Leadership is a process, not a position. There was a time when people used the terms leadership and management interchangeably. I think most people now recognize that there is a significant difference between the two. Management is at its best when things stay the same.

Leadership deals with people and their dynamics, which are continually changing. They are never static. The challenge of leadership is to create change and facilitate growth. Those require movement, which, as you will soon see, is inherent in moving up from one level of leadership to the next.

The 5 Levels of Leadership Breaks Down Leading into Understandable Steps

The subject of leadership can be overwhelming and confusing. Where does leadership start? What should we do first? What processes should we use? How can we gain influence with others? How can we develop a productive team? How do we help followers become leaders in their own right? The 5 Levels of Leadership gives answers to these questions using understandable steps.

The 5 Levels of Leadership Provides a Clear Game Plan for Leadership Development

Too often when people think of their journey into leadership, they envision a career path. What they should be thinking about is their own leadership development! Good leadership isn’t about advancing yourself. It’s about advancing your team. The 5 Levels of Leadership provides clear steps for leadership growth. Lead people well and help members of your team to become effective leaders, and a successful career path is almost guaranteed.

The 5 Levels of Leadership Aligns Leadership Practices, Principles, and Values

When I developed the 5 Levels, I conceived of each level as a practice that could be used to lead more effectively. As time went by and I used and taught the levels, I realized they were actually principles. Here’s the difference: a practice is an action that may work in one situation but not necessarily in another. A principle is an external truth that is as reliable as a physical law. For example, when Solomon said, “A gentle answer turns away every wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” he stated a principle that is universal and timeless. Principles are important because they function like a map, allowing us to make wise decisions. If we embrace a principle and internalize it, it becomes a part of our values. The 5 Levels influences my leadership life every day.

 
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If you’re interested in pre-ordering The 5 Levels of Leadership, click the publisher’s link above for more information. Next week, I’ll give you more of an overview and teach on Level 1!

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