Hey boss, having a position doesn’t make you a leader.


The best teams, departments, divisions, and organizations all have one thing in common. The people are led not managed. Bosses aren’t allowed, but everyone at every level receives an invitation to lead.

In the very best organizations, leaders are welcomed but bosses are not.
Unfortunately, many people in today’s society strive to be the boss. They desire a position of authority and the related perks. These narcissistic, prideful, and ego driven individuals are drawn to the title, not the people.

Once they get their sought after position, they think they have arrived. They think they are on top of the Leadership mountain. They now have power, control, and authority over other’s lives. Every real leader understands that a boss is not on top of the Leadership mountain. The boss is only at the base of the mountain. All it took was someone else in a position of authority to share their authority with them, to select them, and to give them a position.

“A leader is someone who has followers. If there are no followers, there is no leader. A person may have subordinates, workers, admirers, associates, co-workers, friends, and people who report to him or her, a person may have authority over other people, a person may hold an elective office, and a person may influence a large number of people, but that does not make that person a leader if there are no followers. A follower is someone that has chosen a leader.” ~ Jimmy Collins, Retired President of Chick-fil-A 33 years

Leaders are the only ones that can and that will climb the Leadership mountain. However, only the best leaders will make it to the top. Once the best make it to the top, some will choose to do what only high impact leaders can do. They will go back down the mountain and help other developing leaders climb their way to the top.

Reaching the top of the Leadership mountain is about success. Helping others reach the top of the Leadership mountain is about significance. The #2 book on my all-time reading list is The 5 Levels of Leadership by my mentor, John C. Maxwell. If you aspire to climb the Leadership mountain, this book is a must read. In it, John reveals that position is the lowest level of leadership. When I reference the 5 Levels, I add in that not only is the positional level is the lowest level of leadership, but it is also the highest level of management.

We should lead people, but we must manage things and processes. A boss simply attempts to manage it all: people, things, and processes.

The 5 Levels of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Position. Key word: rights. People follow you only because they have to.
Permission. Key word: relationships. People follow you because they want to. Note: The results of a research study conducted with 17,000 people, reflected a 40% increase in productivity when people follow a leader because they want to compared with following a leader because they have to.
Production. Key word: results. People follow you because of what you have done for the organization.
People-Development. Key word: reproduction. People follow you because of what you have done for them personally.
Pinnacle. Key word: respect. People follow you because of who you are and what your represent.

“Respect is something earned, not a feature of a title, office, rank, or position.” ~ Jimmy Collins

  • Key things to understand about The 5 Levels of Leadership
    Every time you meet someone, start a new job, get a promotion, or move to a new company, you must always restart at level 1 regardless of where you were with other people or organizations. Note: If you don’t have a position of authority relative to other people, you must climb to level 2 and build a relationship before you can lead (influence) them. If they don’t choose to follow, without a position, you will not be able to lead them.
  • You will be on different levels with different people at the same time.
  • The higher you climb, the harder it gets but the greater your influence will be.
  • You never leave a level behind but rather build on each level with each person like a multi-layered foundation.
  • You must master each level before you can climb to the next level. For instance, I could be a millionaire CEO getting tremendous results (level 3). But, if I don’t truly value the people in my organization and just use them as a means to an end, I am still a level 1 leader getting great results. Or, I may be developing people (level 4). But if the only reason is to get better results and make more profit, I’m still leading from level 1. A true level 4 leader develops people because he values people and wants to see them do well in society not just in his company.

“A transformational leader intentionally engages people to think and act in such a way that it makes a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others.” ~ John C. Maxwell

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