The 7 levels of leadership

It’s out with the old and in with the new! The last decade has seen industries and businesses moving at a faster pace than ever before, and to cope with this rapid evolution, business leaders must adapt to a more modern and agile style of management. Gone are the days of age-based seniority and parental leadership tactics based on control. Today’s employees embrace a flatter management structure, flexibility, accountability, empowerment, development initiatives and continuous learning. 

Before you can strive toward becoming the inspiring leader you need to be, it’s important that you identify where you sit within the 7 levels of leadership, as described below. The first five levels are very much yesterday’s approach to leadership; and the remaining levels are about becoming the new and innovative leaders of tomorrow. Now is the time to become a more refined, mindful and introspective leader; one who understands that leadership is not about you; but about what you can do for others, and how you can best enable them to shine.  

1. The Disliked Manager 

The disliked manager is usually someone who has moved up through the ranks of the organisation and has been promoted into a leadership role purely due to seniority. This person has a lot of industry knowledge and knows the environment quite well but does not understand the true ethos of leadership. They have a poor ‘command and control’ approach to leadership and are therefore disliked and disrespected by their team.  

2. The Disrespected Manager 

The disrespected manager has gone from being disliked to being somewhat liked but has yet to earn the respect of those they lead. There is a considerable learning curve involved in becoming a successful leader, and how long the person stays at this stage is entirely up to their own commitment and skill development.  

3. The Manager/Leader 

The Manager / Leader now understands that there are two distinct skillsets required to becoming a leader: one must be both a great manager and a great leader to lead effectively. This person is learning; they’re reading books or listening to audiobooks, they’re eager and they’re using initiative. At this point, they’ve attained the two crucial key qualities: they’re a good leader and a good manager, and after a while, this takes them to the next level. 

4. The Respected Leader  

The respected leader has now earned respect as both a manager and as a leader. This person is leading more effectively and harmoniously within a team that is receptive and responsive to their newly refined style of leadership and shared goals.  

5. The Accomplished Leader 

The accomplished leader has been in the role for a while and is consistently demonstrating excellent values. They have developed a successful, inclusive, admirable approach to leadership, and they are maintaining the levels of respect they have earned through shared vision and group empowerment.  

These first five levels of leadership are focussed on the outer environment; becoming a strong leader in the environment in which you have been placed. These next levels on the other hand, are more focussed on an inner style of leadership. One doesn’t have to have attained the accomplished leader level to embark on levels six and seven, but an accomplished leader who evolves through these next steps will quickly be seen as a revered influencer by those around you.  

6. The Stress-Free Leader 

The Stress-Free Leader is somewhat focussed on themselves in terms of their own self-awareness and their ability to self-regulate and see the world from a different level – from the coach’s box, you could say. They’re beginning to understand that their outer world is a reflection of their inner world, and that everything is neutral until you give it meaning. It’s about recognizing your thoughts and actively changing them where necessary, and consistently reprogramming your mind. Stress is an unavoidable part of work and life, but the Stress-Free Leader ensures that when they find themselves in a place of stress, they don’t stay there. They assess whether their thought processes are coming from a place of fear, control or emotion (brain focussed thinking), or whether they are coming from a place of empathy, understanding, intelligence and acceptance (heart-centred thinking), and they adjust their decisions accordingly. 

7. The Intuitive Leader 

As you go up the scale from six to seven, you’re moving into a higher state of self-awareness and you are now able to self-regulate on a whim. Your intuitive leadership skills are becoming so refined that you are tapping into your inner intelligence with your every-day decision-making, and rather than chasing life, you’re in flow with life, trusting that your direction is clear and purposeful as you’re now so in touch with your inner compass. The intuitive leader truly embodies the next generation of leadership. 

– Richard Maloney, CEO of Quality Mind Global

Richard Maloney is the author of Stress Free – How to Thrive Under Pressure in Unprecedented Times. He is the CEO of Quality Mind Global, an international mindfulness business with over 500 clients in 30+ countries and founder of the #1 employee engagement licensing company in the world, Engage & Grow Global.

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