Leaders appear in many forms. There are several styles of leading. Each style has its supporters and detractors. There are inspiring leaders – demanding leaders. There are those who are all talk and those who get results. Those who plan, those who achieve through others, and those who lead the charge with nothing more than a white feather in his/her hat.

Which style works best is open to debate. The style that works best depends on the situation, the goals, the people involved, and the barriers to success. In short, the right style depends. That being said, the wrong style is easier to predict. Effective leaders may attribute their success to others but they do not blame others for their failure. If they lose the game or lose money in business, they accept responsibility for the loss. They don’t blame the gods, the economy, the government, the team, or the guy sitting at the end of the table.

Jim Collins (Good to Great) and John Maxwell (The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential) talk about five levels of leadership and management.


Level 1 consists of individual who are Capable. They are good at their job, are knowledgeable, and have good work habits. In hiring new employees in is critical to make sure the individual is capable.

The second level requires Teamwork. Being capable does not ensure a person is a team player. There are capable individuals who can never share the limelight or work effectively with others. They are too self centered or too ambitious. In a small business, being a team player is every bit as important as being capable.

The third level of leadership is the Competent Manager. This is a capable team player who is able to organize people and resources to achieve business objectives and goals. This is a person who achieves results with and through others.  In a small business this person might be called a team leader or supervisor. What is important is they effectively manage people and achieve positive results.

According to Collins the fourth level includes Effective Leaders. Individuals who provide a compelling vision and motivate and inspire a group to achieve that vision. These are individuals who set a high standard for others. In Built to Last, Collins talked about Leaders who build very successful companies that do not last. Companies that are built around the personal will and charisma of the owner. Such egocentric owners can be Level Four leaders, but they and the company never achieve Level Five.  Donald Trump is probably an example of a Level Four leader who will never achieve Level Five. Steve Jobs was probably the same.

Level Five leaders are a people who consistently show a mix of humility and determination. They are driven – servant leaders. These leaders focus on getting the best out of others. Level Five leaders build lasting companies because they create a team of Level Four leaders and Level Five executives who can continue the company even when the founder is gone.

When we hire a new employee it is critical to be sure the person is capable and a team player (Level 1 and 2). When we select a person to be a team leader, supervisor, or manager, we must believe the person will prove to be a Competent Manager.

Today and in the future, how a manager achieves results is every bit as important as the results he/she achieves. In selecting a person to manage a unit or team, the wise business owner will consider whether the person shows the potential to be a Level Four or Level Five leader.