People work for a manager because they have to. After all they have the job title, the pay cheque, and the power that goes with them. But at that level of commitment they only give the minimum, never their best. Is that why your team work for you?

A leader is different. People follow a leader because they WANT to – because when it comes to following a leader it’s all about choice.

Let’s illustrate the idea using John Maxwell’s 5 levels of leadership.

Level 1 is when people work for you because you’re the boss – and for no other reason. This is where office hours finish at 5:00pm yet every desk is clear at 4:55 pm for ‘goodbyes’ and nipping to the loo in work time rather than on the way out! Or five minutes before end of the shift there is already a queue at the clock machine, each one changed and poised to slide the card through the reader the moment the shift is officially at an end. This is where people give you their minimum, not their best. However…

  • At level 2 they follow you because of the relationship you have with them. In short – because they like you.
  • At level 3 they follow you because of what you have done for the organisation. They see you as someone who has made things better, someone who delivers.
  • At level 4 they follow you because of what you have done for them as an individual. Working with you has meant they have come closer to fulfilling their true potential – you have helped them grow.
  • At level 5 they follow you because of who you are and what you represent. They believe in you, trust you and respect you not just for who you are, but for everything you stand for. They can see that you don’t just say it – you live it.

Each level represents a significant increase in commitment over the one before. Stepping up from one level to the next is all about choice – but not your choice, theirs. They HAVE to work for you because you are the boss, that’s level 1 – but if they CHOOSE to follow you then you get so much more.

Level 5 is where the magic happens

Level 5 is where people give you their all. Level 5 is where the magic happens. Level 5 is where the penny drops that leadership isn’t a hat we put on when we turn up for work – leadership is about who you are and what you stand for. If you’ve heard me talk about Rule # 1 of leadership and that sounds like a contradiction then hang on in there – we’ll come to that later!

You are probably at different stages with different people. Over the next couple of weeks think about your team – what level have you reached with each one? And how can you move up a level? Because if you haven’t reached level 5 one thing is certain. You are leaving more commitment on the table than you currently have in play. That’s energy, passion and resource that you need. Energy, passion and resource that is yours to receive – if they choose to give.

So when your team look at you – what do they see? A leader whose actions and words are completely aligned? A leader they can believe in, not just for who you are, but for everything you stand for?

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Peter Anderton

Author: Peter Anderton

A sought after coach and change agent, Peter has spent many years in Organisational Development, focusing on developing high performance leadership teams, executive coaching, strategy and change. He builds relationships quickly and is as comfortable in the boardroom as he is at ‘grass roots’. Known for his integrity, energy and a real passion for making things happen, he has a uniquely direct yet supportive style that delivers.

Peter is a qualified NLP master practitioner, a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a Chartered Engineer.