‘The Five Levels of Leadership’ by John Maxwell states that there exists the following leadership levels. 

  • POSITION – Rights:  People follow because they have to.
  • PERMISSION – Relationships:  People follow because they want to.
  • PRODUCTION – Results:  People follow because of what you have done for the organization.
  • PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT – Reproduction:  People follow because of what you have done for them.
  • PERSONHOOD – Respect:  People follow because of who you are and what you represent.

Last year, I was humbled by being the recipient of the HBA (Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association) Luminary Award for being a “shining example of transformational leadership” and “serving as a role model … with a track record of helping advance others’ careers.”.  Although I would like to believe that this is proof that I am at the highest “Personhood” level, the reality is that I’ve made many leadership mistakes and most likely have more people who feel that I’m at the lowest “Position” level that I’d like to admit.

So what’s the solution?  What’s the key to successful leadership?  Well, do you have a lifetime?  There are infinite volumes of books, courses and TED Talks on leadership.  Good luck!  

Instead, I’ll simply share a couple of my mistakes – a couple of laws from John Maxwell’s ’21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’ which I had broken in my leadership moments of past – as learning from others’ mistakes are so much more efficient. 


“A leader must give up to go up…” – Iaccoca understood that leaders have to maintain an attitude of sacrifice in order to turn around an organization.  They have to be willing to do what it takes to get to the next level.  “When you become a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself”.  If leaders have to give up to go up, then they have to give up even more to stay up.  What gets a team to the top is not what keeps it there.  The only way to stay up is to give up even more.  Leadership success requires continual change, improvement and sacrifice.


To add growth, lead followers; to multiply for explosive growth, lead leaders.  It is the leader’s job to build the people who are going to build the company.  Any leader who practices the Law of Explosive Growth makes the shift from followers’ math to leaders’ math, and you do that by building people up.

Leaders Who Develop Followers vs Leaders

  • Need to be needed vs Want to be succeeded
  • Focus on weaknesses vs Focus on strengths
  • Develop bottom 20% vs Develop the top 20%
  • Treat their people the same for “fairness” vs as individuals  for impact
  • Hoard power vs Give away power


Hence, never EVER break these laws.