The Leader in You: 5 Levels of Leadership

By Mandeep Singh
Partner – Talent & Rewards,

5 levels of leadership in corporate sector

How do you know whether you are a good leader, a wonderful leader, a bad leader or actually not a leader at all? The primary understanding that one needs to have is that the mere concept of having subordinates reporting to you doesn’t make you a leader. This is just a point of reference, situation or an environmental situation that has been created.

There are a host of books on leadership abilities, team management and many areas relating to people management. They talk of extensive ways of building leadership traits, for oneself, for the organization and for other people around you. The idea of this note is not to dwell deeper into any of those areas, but to put down in some basic, simple to follow manner the various ways of growing up as a leader.  And how you move from one stage of team management to the other.

Level One

The first level leader is the one who has to manage people – below, they primarily act as your extended hands. That is, primarily, they are doing your work and do not have deliveries or responsibilities associated with projects. Your primary focus is task management. How best can the people below you manage the tasks assigned to them, the efficiency and the speed. Normally all things associated with doing a good job

Level Two

The second level of leadership is when you start managing people who are still focusing on your deliveries and your responsibilities, but are assigned tasks or projects and are expected to manage them to completion. Even though this still happens under your supervision. That is, they are still extended hands, but ownership transmits, and from only a single owner task, it becomes a joint owner task.

Your primary focus still remains task related matters, i.e: making those below you manage the task effectively, deliver the task effectively and be efficient in doing the tasks assigned to them.

Level Three

As you grow in your leadership levels, the third level of leadership starts to creep in. This is when you manage tasks in your competency area, but have people managing those tasks with complete ownership, the delivery is done by them, the planning is done by them and the entire process from initiation to completion is owned by them. You primarily are titled as supervisor of the individual and by virtue of that become supervisor of the task assigned to the individual also.

You have now moved into a role which is not only limited to task management, but has a fair percentage of people management into it. To succeed here, you need to not only focus on the historical competencies of enhancing task efficiency of the people below you, you also need to manage them and training them in managing others.

Level Four

The fourth level of leadership is when you are really making the real change in life. In the corporate world, it is this level which is moving into strategy, into the senior management into. For majority of the individuals, it is reaching the 4th level which is a major achievement. One can reach the first 3 levels basis ones technical competencies, however reaching the 4th level requires a fair bit of assessment on things beyond the technical skills and a host of assessments go around figuring out who would be an appropriate person to move into the level 4 roles.

In this level you manage people performing tasks that may not necessarily be your area of competency. You are primarily involved in providing vision, strategy and direction to tasks and projects which you may not be a trained technician on. The focus here is on managing the people aspects of the role along with strategy, vision and direction, task orientation is almost negligible.

Level Five

And the last layer of leadership is when you actually do not manage anyone, it is moving into the advisory roles, working on advising and analysing how people around you work and what they should do. You become someone who can advise on people management, on vision and forward strategic guidance to people who are at the fourth level of leadership (or third as the case maybe). A lot of organizations call them coach, mentors and various other names as per their system.

This is how you actually grown in life, so it is good to figure out where you are presently in your leadership journey and see for yourself whether you are appropriately doing what you should be doing. If you’re at Level Four or Level Three, don’t forget to do a thorough analysis of which Level Five leader you want to choose to help you shape your leadership journey.

Happy Journey!

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