Understanding the four levels of leadership

Although leadership can seem like a fairly simple concept and something that is the same in many different places, it is important to recognise that leadership has different levels.  We need to understand these different levels or we can risk great leadership not resulting in the outcomes we expected.

Tony Morgan, on his blog Tony Morgan Live, helpfully identifies four fundamental levels of leadership.  We might find ourselves moving through this list as the organisation or ministry that we lead grows over time, but also we might need to utilise different levels in different areas of life at the same time.  Here are the four levels:

  • Lead by example – doing a lot of the work with the intention that others watch and are inspired
  • Lead other people – working with those who are doing the work and helping them to fulfil their potential
  • Lead other leaders – working with leaders who are operating as above, encouraging them to release potential in others
  • Lead by vision – leading as above, but with a wider focus and influence which comes not from ‘line management’ responsibility but as a result of others buying into the vision

The original article is well worth a read.

The key thing is recognising what is required of us.  It seems to me that applying the wrong level of leadership to any given situation, even if that leadership is well undertaken in terms of competency, will not result in a good outcome.  Therefore, we need to be able to operate at different levels in different contexts.

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One Response to “Understanding the four levels of leadership”

  1. […] way is to consider levels of leadership (e.g. leading by doing or leading other leaders) as in this post.  Another way might be to look at functional roles within a team using a tool like Belbin.  All […]

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