John Maxwell: The 5 Levels of Leadership


In this animated book summary from 2016, John Maxwell’s the 5 levels of leadership are explained by Awesome Learner. According to Maxwell himself, this leadership philosophy is developed to make you a more understanding and effective leader.

“You must know where you are, to know where you are going” John Maxwell

You might find it interesting to compare your own leadership style to the 5 levels of leadership and find out at which level of leadership you are presently working. It may help you to define also if you have stagnated progress or you are consistently working to move up the leadership ladder.

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position” John C. Maxwell

The 5 leadership Levels

The 5 leadership levels are as follows:

1: Position

2: Permission

3: Production

4: People Development &

5: Pinnacle (high-point)

Based on the video, we have briefly summarized the main points from each leadership level below.

Leadership Level 1 – Position

This is where it all starts. You’ve got your first leadership position and people follow you because they have to. Position is the lowest level of leadership.

A leader at this level has usually limited experience with leadership. The leadership position is, therefore, more about status than leadership skill; for example the skill of dealing well with employees or customers

With John Maxwell’s own words:

“It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position” John C. Maxwell

Leadership Level 2 – Permission

At this level of leadership, people choose to follow you as a leader because they want to. Level 2 is based on relationship.

At this level, you improve your relationships. You like to work with people and they like working with you. Important spin-offs of relationship building are trust, respect and a more positive working environment.

Leadership Level 3 – Production

This level is about getting things done and great leaders know how to do that. It is at this level you build credibility and influence as you show the results.

As a change agent, you moreover take you and your team to another level of energy and effectiveness as you work together on difficult tasks and move things forward. Essentially, this is when work becomes fun.

Leadership Level 4 – People Development

This level is about reproduction – you want to reproduce great leaders and help them grow. In a nutshell, this allows you to accomplish your mission. By investing in others you reproduce yourself and help them reproduce yet other great leaders and so forth.

Every day you must take intentional steps toward helping people grow. They are likely to become long-lasting relationship due to what you are doing for them personally. Consistently helping other to grow will take you eventually to the next level.

“To lead well, you must embrace your need for continual improvement… “ John Maxwell

Leadership Level 5 – Pinnacle

You are investing your life in other people’s lives. Moreover, you are doing it unswervingly and over time, again and again.

Level 5 is much about commitment, and the rewards are substantial.

Pinnacle leaders create pinnacle organizations

You are at the level where you help your people and organization to embrace opportunities, which others are blind to. You may not only transcend your position and organization, but also your entire industry.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another” John C. Maxwell

Please share your thoughts with us about the 5 level leadership philosophy in the comment section below.


John Maxwell is an American author, speaker, and pastor who has written more than 20 books. Some of these have been on the New York Times Bestseller list. His books are mostly about variations on leadership, success, and leadership development and have sold in millions of copies around the globe.


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