Archive for Five Levels of Leadership


Level Up Week 9: Communicate

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Well, March has arrived, and with it the end of our Level Up study of The 5 Levels of Leadership. (Just finding out about it? You can still do the study! Just click HERE to go back to Week 1.)

My team and I are curious about how this project worked for you. We’d appreciate your comments, whether you studied alone or led a group. It will help us decide whether or not to do something like this with other books, like my next one: The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth (Fall, 2012).

Here are the questions we would love for you to answer in the comments:

1. Whether you led or participated in a group, what was the best thing you got out of it?

2. What would you like to see us change if we offer this again for another book?

3. Is there another specific book of mine that you would like to study in this way?

Please feel free to share any other thoughts or reactions to this blog series.


Level Up, Week 8: Evaluate

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Welcome to Week 8 of our group study of The 5 Levels of Leadership. This week we’re wrapping up the study and preparing to apply it to our lives.

The greatest danger in doing a study like this one is that it becomes a project, rather than a process. A person might work on it mentally while in the group, but they don’t take action. Because of that, nothing changes after the group stops meeting. Encourage group members to engage in the process of continual leadership development, of which the 5 Levels of Leadership has been just a small part.

I’ve been working on my leadership for over 40 years, and I’m still not done growing. If you have a teachable mindset, the courage to make changes, and the discipline to follow through, you can become the kind of leader who makes an impact.

DISCUSSION (Facilitator’s Guide)

1. (Icebreaker) What’s your favorite way to learn something new?

2. You read about Coach Wooden becoming a Level 5 leader. Do you think there any career fields in which it would not be possible for a leader to reach Level 5? Explain.

3. Now that you’ve read the book, what has changed in your thinking about leadership and how it works?

4. What are you changing in your leadership style or practices to become a better leader?

5. Personally, what is your greatest barrier to developing through the 5 Levels as a leader?

6. What will you be targeting next in your personal or leadership growth?


Create a plan and timeline for overcoming your greatest leadership barrier. This is a process that may take weeks, months, or years. Give yourself specific and measurable goals or milestones. Create steps for accomplishing each. And be sure to be realistic about the time each will actually take. Remember, leadership development is a lifetime journey.


Level Up, Week 7: The Pinnacle

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Welcome to Week 7 of our group study of The 5 Levels of Leadership. This week we’re studying Level 5, The Pinnacle.

The difficulty with teaching this level is that Level 5 leaders are just not very common. Until now, you’ve spent your time nudging group members to reach for the level being discussed. But to reach Level 5, a leader needs to be developing leaders – and not just leaders but Level 4 leaders – for many years. Most people leading groups won’t have a Level 5 leader in them.

You can still discuss this level, though, by meeting your people where they are. What you need to focus on is how well they are developing leaders right now, and getting them to commit to the process as a way of life.



Portrait of a Level 5 Leader, pages 271-286 (We will discuss this reading assignment and the overall impact of this study in NEXT WEEK’s post.)


DISCUSSION (Facilitator’s Guide)

1. (Icebreaker) tell about a time when you met a celebrity who was important to you.

2. Have you ever known a Level 5 leader? What was that person like?

3. What’s the difference between helping others with personal development versus helping them with leadership development?

4. What have you found to be the best way to teach another person to lead?

5. Describe a crucible moment in your leadership journey. What lesson did you learn from it?

6. How would you go about teaching that lesson to another person?

7. Of all the people you work with, who has the greatest leadership potential?

8. What experiences, resources, and people can you share with those potential leades to help them become better leaders?

9. Do you think there’s plenty of room at the top for addition leaders, or do you believe that space is always limited? Why? How does that impact the way you develop other leaders?

10. What efforts have you made to create an inner circle to help you grow and keep yourself grounded?

11. The chapter says to plan for your succession. Are you currently training someone to replace you? If so, how? If not, what must you do to make that happen?



Take responsibility for creating a leadership development environment. Dedicate significant amounts of your time and talent to it. Recognize and reward leadership accomplishments. And make it your responsibility to mentor your top leaders. This is a commitment required not just for a season, but for a lifetime if you want to someday reach Level 5.


Welcome to Week 6 of our group study of The 5 Levels of Leadership. This week we’re studying Level 4, People Development.

As I wrote in the chapter, people development enables a leader to lead larger. In other words, when you have leaders working with you, they accomplish much more than non-leaders do. However, developing people to become leaders takes a lot of time, effort and resources. That’s why most people don’t do it. Your challenge this week is to help the people in your group to understand the return on the investment, so that they will commit to putting in the effort and sustaining it during the delay between investment and return. Busyness, short-sightedness and insecurity are often the greatest barriers to people-development. Help the people in your group to recognize and overcome these.


Level 5: Pinnacle, pages 229-270 (We will discuss this reading assignment in NEXT WEEK’s post.)

DISCUSSION (Facilitator’s Guide)

1. (Icebreaker) Describe the first time you tried to teach someone how to do something, where the results were either comical or disastrous.

2. Tell about the person from whom you’ve learned the most in your entire life and how it changed you.

3. What happens in an organization when people are not equipped or developed?

4. Describe the difference between equipping and developing. Which do you think is easier to do? Why?

5. What criteria have you used in the past for selecting someone to develop or equip? Has it usually been motivated by strategy, or urgency?

6. What percentage of your time do you currently spend teaching, training and developing others?

7. Flash forward – What would your team, department or organization look like and be able to accomplish if you made people-development a lifestyle?

8. The chapter lists several reasons why most leaders don’t develop others, including self-centeredness, ego, desire for control, lack of trust, short-sightedness. Which of those do you find to be the greatest barrier for you personally? Why?

9. How much time are you willing to give every week to developing people? When will you begin?


Pick the top 20% of people with potential in your sphere of influence. Think about what those individuals need to be equipped, developed, and empowered to succeed. Begin spending time with them every week to help them grow and develop.


Level Up, Week 5: Production

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Welcome to Week 5 of our group study of The 5 Levels of Leadership. This week we’re studying Level 3, Production.

This is the week when the task-oriented members of your group will probably understand the topic intuitively and wonder how anyone could miss the value of production. And the people-oriented individuals might be tempted to devalue production as not relational enough.

The truth is that leaders need both aspects of leadership if they’re going to advance and grow. Production needs to be emphasized this week, because it’s the foundation of teamwork and gives a leader credibility. People have more reasons to follow because the team gets things done and succeeds– more than just a connection to the leader. Leadership without results ultimately doesn’t keep followers motivated. But if you have a vision that you’ve articulated and are modeling, your followers will embrace it and continue the journey with you.


Level 4: People Development, pages 179-228 (We will discuss this reading assignment in NEXT WEEK’s post.)

DISCUSSION (Facilitator’s Guide)

1. (Icebreaker) Tell about something you made or created during your formative years that you were especially proud of.

2. What’s the difference between a producer and a production-level leader?

3. How do you balance remaining productive and leading others at the same time?

4. What’s the benefit of having earned permission on Level 2 before pressing to get work done on Level 3?

5. Why do you think the book says that leadership production is the foundation for team-building?

6. When you get into production mode, do you find yourself neglecting Level 2 Permission? If so, how do you change that?

7. Which of your talents, skills and strengths provide the greatest contribution to the team on Level 3? Would others on your team agree with your assessment? Why or why not?

8. When it comes to modeling, how do the leader’s actions impact the team, either positively or negatively?

9. In what kinds of leadership situations is it worth risking relationships in order to achieve productivity? What are your criteria for making those judgments.

10. Now that you have read about Permission and Productivity, in which area do you most need to grow? What will you do differently to become a more effective leader?


Think about the vision, mission, or objectives of the department or organization that you lead. Define that as clearly as you can. Then take some time  to evaluate each person on your team and the talents, skills, strengths that they could contribute to that vision.

(If you do not currently lead anyone in the workplace, then apply this to your family or volunteer situation.)

Create a strategy for how all those different skill sets could work together to achieve the vision. Keep in mind how the individual personality traits or life experiences of the people involve could hinder or enhance their ability to contribute. Your goal as the leader of your team is to know what needs to be accomplished, know the individual contributors, put everyone in the best place to succeed, and help them overcome personal as well as professional obstacles to succeed.  (No, it’s not easy. But that’s why not everyone wants to lead.)

With that game plan in hand, start working toward implementing it.