At The John Maxwell Company, we talk often about the Five Levels of Leadership.
But while we frequently discuss the importance of progressing from one leadership level to the next, it’s important to understand any roadblocks that might stand in your way in achieving forward momentum. One key potential danger zone is not understanding your current leadership level, and the need to engage in learned behavior to help you move to the next plateau.
During our leadership assessments and coaching, we see this happen quite a bit in levels 2 and 3. The reality is that we all have a natural inclination towards making connections and building relationships with those around us (Level 2), or we are a task/production oriented person (Level 3). The problem is that we are often hardwired for one level at the expense of the other, and this can hold us back in our personal and professional growth.
Think about it: You can probably count yourself in one of these two buckets:
Level 2—You walk into the office, grab a cup of coffee, and make the rounds. You see how everyone is doing, investing in their personal lives, and work to engage with them on an intimate level.
Level 3—You walk into the office and start with updating your daily todo list. You measure progress in items completed, keeping a laser-focus on the next goal or metric.
But there’s a problem with each approach, when it happens in a vacuum. Level 2 leaders spend a significant amount of time on people, but do they get things done? We need to produce as leaders and successful leaders don’t make connections for their own sake. Well-rounded leaders build relationships with the goal of achieving shared goals and objectives.
Level 3 leaders can over prioritize tasks at the expense of relationships. As John Maxwell teaches: “As a leader, you will never get ahead until your people are behind you.” If a Level 3 leader is allowing relationships with those in their sphere to wither, then they are probably facing high turnover in their team and those all-important deadlines are not being met.
It’s time to put intentionality over habit
So, how can you break out of your hardwired leadership style and move on to the next level of growth? The first step is self-awareness of your proclivity towards either the building of relationships or the completion of tasks. Once aware, you need to develop learned behaviors to break the gravitational pull of your own personality. Here are a couple of quick examples:
If you’re a task-oriented person, the next time you’re in a meeting, try MBWA: Management by Walking Around. Go grab that coffee and make the rounds in your office to try and connect with your team. The goal is not to make as many superfluous connections as possible based on small-talk. You want to work towards meaningful conversations that help you learn more about the key individuals within your zone of influence.
If you’re the relationship person, start thinking about the results your team is producing. This means you need to adopt the uncomfortable position of holding people accountable and encouraging them to achieve a higher standard. While it’s natural to care about others, you must balance care with candor if you want to influence people into a mindset of success.
If you want to discover more on how to move your journey forward on the Five Levels of Leadership, try a Maxwell Leadership Assessment. It can help you uncover your leadership style and help you hone the intentional skills necessary to move your leadership, and the performance of your entire team, to the next level.