The Five Levels of Leadership, now a book!


October 1, 2010
Delivering the completed manuscript for
The Five Levels of Leadership
to Rolf Zettersten,
Sr Vice President & Publisher,
FaithWords/Center Street

Last week I had the privilege of turning in the manuscript for what I believe is my most important book to date:

The Five Levels of Leadership.

Now, if you know me well, you might be thinking, “But John, you say that EVERY new book or lesson is the best/most important thing you’ve ever done.”

I do say that, don’t I? Well, I can’t really deny it. But in this case, I really do believe that this concept is the best idea I’ve ever had. Why? Because

  1. It’s a concept that I developed over 30 years ago, yet it’s stood the test of time and application by a wide variety of organizations – small businesses, giant corporations, and nonprofits of any size.
  2. The five levels define leadership as a process, not a position.
  3. This means that anyone – even one with little natural gifting – can grow as a leader by learning this concept.
  4. Everywhere I go, it is the one thing I get asked to teach over and over again.
  5. And it’s never been taught at this depth before. In fact, only as we prepared this book did we discover how many layers the concept has.

I know that leadership has been divided into levels before, by communicators from Jim Collins to Bill Joiner. I didn’t create my concept because of a lack of material on the subject, but more because it explained levels in the way that was clearest TO ME. That enabled me to teach it with confidence and authenticity.

The Five Levels of Leadership will be published in Fall, 2011.

But we won’t wait until then to talk more about it here. To start with, here’s the concept in graphical form:

I’m excited about the coming year, as my new publishers take what I already consider a great concept and turn it into an even greater book.

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  1. 1
    Justin JJ says:

    Great!! Cant wait to read this one too!! I enjoy reading then applying your material!! Thanks for writing..


  2. 2
    Laurinda says:

    Looking forward to it!

    I thought your publisher was Thomas Nelson. Is there a reason for the change?

  3. 3
    Caleb says:

    Is it coming out this Fall or next? I’ve seen it listed as both.

  4. 4
    Amy Antonucci says:


    First I want to say that I love all of the books of yours that I’ve read, and the books that of yours I haven’t read are definitely on my list of to-reads! When I hear of the 5 levels of leadership though, I think of Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady’s book Launching a Leadership Revolution. The levels aren’t the same as what you list here, but it still seems awfully close!

  5. 5
    Michael Lotfy says:

    Thank you John for the indescribable difference you make. Please make a plan of writing more books.
    Another thing, please make the cover of this project as a LAW book as 21 laws of leadership. It’s important that you do it as a law book as there is no other level can or could be added to it later.

    I wish I got a 1 phone call with you that I can tell you the secret of secrets.

    Bless you more,

  6. 6
    Christy Moosa says:

    You mean the best idea God has ever given you, and you are honored to be his vessel. To Him be all glory, honor and power forever, Amen!

  7. 7
    Michael Lotfy says:

    To Christy Moosa: Oh you religious people, be quite and learn. It’s John’s potential that he was born to the world with it. No doubt that God is the one who planted it to him, and he does not deny it. He does not require you to remind him of it. He always mention this all over his life. Show us Christy what are you going to do in your life. John’s life speaks for him.
    John, your integrity speaks for you.
    Be blessed more.

  8. 8

    I’m looking forward to studying your new book, John! The Five Levels of Leadership was very influencial to me when I read “Developing the Leader Within You” many years ago. All the best!

  9. 9

    I agree with you that anyone can be a leader and I’m convinced that is it a process. I’m looking forward to reading your new book!

    Thanks for sharing the great news and best wishes to you.

  10. 10
    jinnette anacio says:

    i just bought my fifth book of John Maxwell the revise edition of 21 irrefutable last sep 30 but not yet read it.

    i can’t find the first edition in NBS. i can’t understand but theres a feelin in me that when i go to book store i’l check your books, then i adjust my allowance so i can buy it the following days. where can i get the original 21 irrefutable law of leadership? i try in the biggest book store in our country but not available anymore.
    i’l pray i’l have it soon

  11. 11

    Hello! I am new fan of yours. I purchased two of your books yesterday (Everyone Communicates. Few Connect & The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership). I started reading “Everyone Communicates…) and it’s hard for me to put it down!

    Anyway, I am looking forward to purcashing your “5 Levels of Leadership”. Your expertise and stories to help the reader relate to the message is awesome! My favorite so far is the “nuclear plant being disconnected from the grid”. That alone I had to ponder on because you can relate that on many levels. Well, with me anyway. hahahha

    Good luck and much continued success!

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Ron G. says:

    Will this also be released as an eBook? I hope so as I would really like to download it to my iPad.

  14. 14
    Charlie Wetzel says:

    To Amy Antonucci: John developed The Five Levels of Leadership nearly thirty years ago and has been teaching it that long. I believe Woodward and Brady’s book has been out for only a couple of years. Do they reference John’s work in it?

  15. 15
    Maribeth R. Hickman says:

    I love that your Level 5 is “Respect,” because I believe that it’s the consistent essence of all your books. Your message that whatever we do, we should first be sure that it benefits others, is evident in all that you do in your life. This quality is one of the many I admire about you. Looking forward to the new book!

  16. 16
    Shontal J. says:

    As written in the phenomenal book, Think and Grow Rich, “…more gold has been mined from the brains of men than has ever been taken from the earth”. YOU, Mr. Maxwell, are a true testament of this statement.

    Thanks so much for the great work you do. Keep it coming!

  17. 17
    Mike Benton says:

    WOW, I believe this will be your best book ever because my goal is to grow from the teachings from such leaders as yourself. Your either getting better or your getting worse…..Onward and upward.
    Mike Benton

  18. 18
    Nuril Haya says:

    I’m looking forward to buy it!

    I really love your books. It’s great, inspiring, and what I love most is, it’s applicable!! ^^

  19. 19

    I’m extremely excited about this book. I saw you present this information in San Diego about 2 years ago. It was amazing, but the copy I have of the information is incomplete. I am truly excited to read it and begin finding where I fit in the levels now that I have been working with all this for the past 2 years.

    Well done John! And I agree, I love all your books, but this means more than all of it because it encompasses all of it. So it may truly be the most important book you ever do.

  20. 20

    Sir,am glad to be blessed by you & your books like: failing forward,talent is never enough,21 irrefutable laws of leadership,leadership gold,and developing the leader within you.In developing the leader within you, you on the 5levels of leadership.So,for you to write a book on 5levels of leadership attests that you’re alive & growing for the better.I know you’ll give us a great treatise,so I can’t wait to eat it.Have you change from Thomas Nelson?Shalom!!!.

  21. 21


    This is spot on. It will be fascinating to see you elaborate on the process.

    Chris Paulsen

  22. 22

    Charlie, John has been a great influence in both mine and Chris Brady’s leadership and we reference both John and Jim Collins and starting our discussion on the Five Levels of Influence in our book. Can’t wait to see what John is learning. All leadership builds on each other just as Newton said about Science, “If I have seen further it’s because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” Maxwell and Collins are giants to learn from. thanks, Orrin

  23. 23
    Joo Kwang says:

    I’m looking forward to it. Leadership is such an important thing in life. In some ways, we are all leaders, first of our own lives and when we do it well enough, we try to bring that light to those around us. John, thank you for doing what you have been doing all these years.

  24. 24
    Feather Freebird says:

    Thank you so very much for the continued value you bring to so many lives John. We are all greatly blessed for knowing you. Looking forward to your new book. As always, I am sure it is the best you have ever done.

    Thank you also Stephanie for your help to keep John at our fingertips. You are a blessing as well.

    Thanks again, and wishing you all continued good health, prosperity and happy hearts.

  25. 25
    GLORY UKO says:

    I need a copy of this book once it’s out. i reside in Nigeria. how do i go about getting it

  26. 26
  27. 27
    Yvonne Green says:

    So excited does this mean I have to wait like I did on Everyone Communicates Few Connect [ inside joke]

    So thankful for your teaching and EQUIP your a blessing in so many ways

  28. 28
    BC Alexander says:

    Congratulations Mr. Maxwell. I look forward to reading, learning and applying the wisdom you’ve gifted to us in the form of this book and your life’s work.

    Thank you!

    ~Brylan Charles “BC” Alexander

  29. 29
    Christine says:

    I can’t wait!

  30. 30

    Hello John, thanks for the e-mail about your new book , i am currently reading , Put Your Dreams to the test, and its a hard book to put down, throughly enjoying it writing, with your usual style.

    I also subscribe to success magazine, and also enjoy your audios always with interest..

    I will look forward to your new book also.

    One comment though ! got me thinking, on your chart above, on Position , People follow you because they have to ! , i was a little concerned with that statement, i had memories of what my late dad told me , as he went thru occupied holland during the war , and lost many friends , while he helped the under ground , save many others.

    I think he might not agree with that statement, during those times, many people were forced to follow a certain person because thay had no other choice at that time, possibly a a better choice of words would have been better for No. 1 ? , can you throw some light on your thinking here…… so we can learn from what you are trying to tell us here….

    Make it a great week….. no… make it a fantastic one , its more fun.

    Regards Theo

  31. 31
    jorey amparo says:

    hehehe….I can’t wait for your new book….we need such in our area of ministry!!!….

  32. 32
    dave says:

    Greetings from Kenya- East Africa, looking foward

  33. 33

    Awesome!! Cant wait to read in John!!!

  34. 34
    Samuel Kondeti says:

    Looking forward for the New Book, I really love the fifth level, ” Pinnacle( Respect) wherein people follow you because who You are and what you represent- eagerly waiting to read!

  35. 35
    Hoang Gia Le Huynh Tuyen says:

    I’m a fan of your Leadership style and your valuable experience. May this book will be the best seller book ever.


  36. 36
    David says:

    Hi John,

    Thx for publishing this book. I first read your book three years ago, “Developing Leadership Within You”, where you taught me the five levels of leadership. It’s interesting that you can make such principle into a book by itself!

    I noticed level five is now called “pinnacle”, not “personhood” as in your previous books, Any idea why? (I will buy the book if you included your answer there!)

    Looking forward to connect with you at Hillsong Conference, Sydney, next year!

    God bless


  37. 37
    Vinay Mehta says:

    The concept of 5 levels is really wonderful.

    A leader’s internal growth can be known by for what s/he is being followed for or how they relate to him/her.

    Another interesting fact is that people who follow a leader do change their reason of “follow-ship”, if I can call it that way, by the way the leader acts in his personal life over a period of time.

    Looking forward to the book! – Vinay

  38. 38
    Nicholas Yannacopoulos says:

    I have been receiving your mentoring through your books, Cds and DVDs for alsmost thirteen years. I have red “Building the Leader within you” several times and I think that in the world of today the 5 Levels of Leadership need a solid foundation to stand on. I have come to the conclusion that a sixth P is necessary as the bonding glue and that is P R I N C I P L E S !
    Without them we experience corrupted and manipulating leaders.

    Now, as concerns your most important book. I believe that your most important book is not yet published. I THINK THAT YOUR MOST IMPORTANT BOOK WILL BE PUBLISHED AFTER MANY YEARS AND MANY EXCELLENT BOOKS AND IT WILL BE CALLED


  39. 39
    Shiketa says:

    John Maxwell you are sooo awesome! Your books have helped me to develop the leader in me and I am now able to deal with all types of attitudes and people. Moreover my business has grown and i am a advocate for leadership!! Thank you John Maxwell!!!

    I also love to write and you inspire me to keep writing!!

  40. 40
    Rosette Ramos-Pasetes says:


    As always, you produce nothing but the greatest books that anybody can keep for a lifetime. I have a library full of books written by you. You have helped, taught, contributed, inspired me and my quest for personal development. You are the reason why I am able to help others as well. Your Developing the Leader in Me and Developing the Leaders Around Me became my music to my ears. I have always played your tapes/CDs in my rolling university (my car).

    Thank you for doing what you are doing. You are leaving a legacy that will forever linger in a lot of peoples’ heart. My kids at a very young age are learning from you as well. They are better leaders at their school and thanks to you for helping me mold them the way they are.

    Looking forward to this upcoming book! God Bless!

  41. 41
    Toluhi John Olalekan says:

    you have been a blessing to humanity especially our generation and to me in person, i can wait to reading that book which i know will be a tool of transformation to my life so many. God bless you real good.

    lekan toluhi

  42. 42

    I’ll camp out at the bookstore a week before it hits the stores! Is it fall 2011 yet?

  43. 43

    felicitation Max. i like also the book:” How the successful people think”.

  44. 44
    Noel V. Arceo says:

    I am very much excited about the book!

  45. 45
    Elan Govindasamy says:

    Looking forward to Fall 2011 for the Five Levels. You are a true inspiration.

  46. 46
    Yolanda Delatorre says:

    Got a preview at YMCA General Assembly, I can’t wait for the book!!

  47. 47
    nike says:

    Can’t wait to read, particularly on how to get to the top of the pinnacle. Its not going to be easy but don’t mind retracing back my steps and starting all over again.

  48. 48
    Generation Guidance says:

    We are very blessed with your books one of your books motivate us and promote us from a group to a Community Based Organization.This is so great empowering young boys and girls in this organization.Thanks and may God bless you and your family.

  49. 49

    Iam looking forward to read that book,So that i can apply the principles to my life
    Be blessed
    Dr Maxwell

  50. 50
    Wade D. Sadlier says:

    I can hardly wait to purchase yet this book and read it. I am just finishing Everyone Communicates; Few Connect. John, you are at the top of the leadership field and an inspiration to me. You have certainly impacted my own life and writings.

  51. 51

    Thank you for the tempting preview for your new book. I love the graph. It makes the progression very clear. Can’t wait to learn more.
    Thank you for all you do. I am always learning from you.
    Leelo Bush

  52. 52

    […] the  The Five Levels of Leadership, Maxwell shares his belief that leadership is an ongoing process, not a position. Leaders are […]