Years of experience in a position does not mean you are a good leader
Prime the pump
October 17, 2023
Years of experience in a position does not mean you are a good leader

Years of experience in a position of authority does not determine your leadership level or if you are a good leader.

You’ll be surprised to discover the number of leaders with decades of experience who have not grown past positional leadership.

“Leaders who remain positional get branded and stranded. The position doesn’t make the leader – the leader makes the position” – Neo Ralston.

If you have ever wondered why some leaders lose their fame and respect simultaneously with vacating an office. One of the reasons for this is because they were positional leaders, they had control over their followers because of their position or title. Once they were no longer in the position of control, people were no longer willing to please them.

In his book ‘The 5 Levels of Leadership’ Mr Maxwell said that there are five levels of leadership which he described as Level 1 – Position, Level 2 – Permission, Level 3 – Production, Level 4 – People Development, Level 5 – Pinnacle. Today I want us to begin to examine the different levels of leadership, starting with Level 1 – Position.

Mr Maxwell makes some recommendations on how a positional leader can grow into a permission leader: Acknowledge the people who gave you the opportunity to serve as a leader and thank them. Understand that there are different levels of leadership, determine which level you are at.

Dedicate yourself to leadership growth. Focus on relationships instead of rules. Do not wait for team members to come to you, go to them. Don’t consistently remind people that you are in control. Do not pretend that you know it all, no one expects you to and remember that are many people you can learn from, find a coach.

Today we look at Level 2 of the levels of leadership – Permission. Permission Leadership is based on the leadership relationship with people. At this level, people follow you by choice. A good example of this is a leader of a voluntary organization or a social club. Members leave organizations that are led by poor leaders especially when their pay cheque does not depend on them being there.

One of the biggest mistakes permission leaders make is to focus too much on relationship at the expense of their voice. To maintain respect and mitigate frustration from high achievers whose focus is on getting things done, permission leaders must be assertive. Additionally, permission leaders can be manipulated by team members who recognize how much those leaders value your relationship with them.

However, if you are a permission leader, the pros outweigh the cons. Here is an excerpt from Darya Sinusoid’s article on SHORTFORM Leadership Level 2: Permission Leadership | Shortform Books.

The positives of being a permissional leader are:

1. “It injects the workplace with positive energy. If you’ve ever had to work with a boss or a team you didn’t like, then you know how draining it can be. Conversely, working with people that you like and respect makes the hours go by more quickly. Shifting your focus from yourself to your team has an invigorating effect. It makes your people feel cared for and trusted, creating a friendlier work environment and developing team chemistry. This makes work more pleasant for everyone and gives them more energy and motivation to do their jobs and do them well.

2. Communication becomes a two-way street. Positional leaders tend to talk down to their people. Meanwhile, permissional leaders have conversations that go both ways—to them, listening is just as important as talking. This leads to a greater sense of community, where people feel they can communicate openly, not just with their leader but also with their teammates.

3. Every person feels like a valuable member of the team. When you see and appreciate the uniqueness of every person on your team, they feel valued and respected, which then has a positive impact on their morale. Even little acts can go a long way to make people feel appreciated and give them a sense of personal fulfillment.

4. You develop trust. Once you stop trying to impress people and start trying to develop relationships, you start to gain their trust. Trust opens the doors to collaboration and teamwork—sharing, questioning, creating, and taking risks. People will only give you permission to lead them if they trust you.“


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