Seven Levels of Personal Leadership; How Do You Measure Up?
In Jim Collin’s bestselling book From Good to Great he writes of five levels of leadership; I
believe that there seven levels of leadership, and I have described each below.
As you read through each description, evaluate not only where you see yourself, but also
where you see those that work with you, and for you.
Meet the internal terrorist! These individuals are negative leaders, starting rumors,
disrupting things, pushing limits, and creating havoc in the organization. They stir things
up, are argumentative without offering positive opinions. When asked how they might do
something better, these individuals have plenty of ideas, but will not take any responsibility.
They enjoy the popularity that their terrorism brings. These individuals have a lot to offer
but the attitude they have makes them a severe liability.
The Present (and Accounted For)
Meet the disengaged employee; they show up on time and follow the rules, but are not
interested in doing more than what is expected. Individuals like this often fight change, are
reluctant to progress upward because it means more work, results and responsibility is
expected. This kind of individual would rather be somewhere else and works only because it
Meet the contributor, the highly capable individual, engaged and loyal. They make
productive contributions to the team, applying their talents, knowledge and skills to
whatever the task is they are assigned. This individual has good work habits, and seeks
opportunities to learn. Every organization should be looking for more individuals like this.
After mastering the skills of a highly capable individual, the next step is to move to being a
contributing team member. (Keep in mind that not every individual, no matter how
talented, wants to be part of a team. Loners abound in the work world). The contributing
team member works well in a group, making a solid effort towards defined group objectives.
The competent manager leads a team. These individuals organize people and other
resources to predetermined objectives. An individual at this level understands and can deal
effectively with individuals who are terrorists or disengaged.
An effective leader is committed to the active pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, and
by their energy, focus and progress, stimulates higher performance from those that they
lead. If a vision is missing, they create it. If the vision becomes cloudy, they refocus until it
becomes clear again. These individuals are persistent, yet realistic. They lead from the
front…their mantra is “follow me.” These individuals are rare, and you can see them from a
distance because they have a contagious attitude worth catching.
This rare individual builds greatness in an organization through a combination of personal
humility and professional will. These are not the people you see on magazine covers or
hosting television shows. Chances are, you have never heard of anyone at this level of
leadership, because they stay out of the limelight, and spend their energy not posturing in
the press but by taking the organization they are responsible for to a different place…a
These definitions and descriptions raise interesting questions. Have you taken a census of
how many of your employees are in each category? Are you tolerating terrorists? Do you
know the cost of having these individuals corrode your company from the inside out? How
did your disengaged employees get there? What are you doing to re-engage them? Are you
developing those individuals who can make a stronger contribution or are you squelching
them? Finally, where do you place yourself and what will you do to move to the next level?