Sunday, September 22, 2019

Launching A Leadership Revolution: Mastering the Five Levels of Influence (2005), Book Review

Launching A Leadership Revolution: Mastering the Five Levels of Influence (2005)
by Chris Brady & Orrin Woodward

Soon or later, we are all called to upon to lead. WHEN that time comes, WILL you be ready? That's a good question, right? It's not that you are not going to lead and you don't need to learn how to lead – you will lead most of the time. You're either a good leader or a bad one. No in-between. Might as well, learn to lead well, right? This book will make a difference in your leadership life. Usually, I read on average, 1 book per week, but for this one, I have to slow down because there are too many profound points, practical applications, and good quotes and examples. I believe every one of us has great potential locked away inside us. Leadership is the key! "We have seen people come alive and achieve things they never thought possible," write the authors, "once they started learning to take responsibility for leadership. The result, quite frankly, has been revolutionary."

When I first read the subtitle Mastering the Five Levels of Influence, I remember John C. Maxwell's book entitled The 5 Levels of Leadership (2011) which he first introduced in Developing the Leader Within You (first edition, 1993). Is it similar? In Maxwell's book suggests that there are 5 levels of leadership, given here in ascending power of influence:

#1 Position (RIGHTS)
#2 Permission (RELATIONSHIPS)
#3 Production (RESULTS)
#4 People Development (REPRODUCTION)
#5 Personhood or Pinnacle (RESPECT)

But in Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward's book, they outline the five levels of influence as such, given here in ascending ladders:

#1 LEARN: a leader must be able to learn from anyone
#2 PERFORM: persevere through failure to find success
#3 LEAD: extend your abilities by expanding your team
#4 DEVELOP LEADERS: learn to trust your people

I think the last two #4 and #5 are almost similar. The authors acknowledged Maxwell's works (Jim Collin also introduce his own five levels of leadership in his best-selling book Good to Great). But what makes this book unique is that both authors discussed in details the three important foundations of leadership namely, #1 What a leader brings (essential qualities such as Hungry, Hone-able & Honourable); #2 What a leader does (the Cycle of Achievement, namely, Vision > Goal Setting > Game Planning > Working > Seeking Counsel), and #3 How a leader grow personally (the Trilateral Leadership Ledger, which consists of, Character x Competency x Relationships) before they explain about The Five Levels of Influence. For each level, they share stories of historical leaders who exemplified it.

When I see the ascending order of The 5 Levels of Influence as shown in this book, it reminds me of this truth: Leadership is a PROCESS. It is ongoing and compounding. It doesn't happen overnight, but over time, it happens in undeniable ways. A student once asked me, "How can I be a good leader?" I replied, "You need to learn now. Read a book. Create a habit of growth. The best time is 5 years ago, then the next best is today." The concept of leadership in this book may appear to be daunting but over time, it will become clearer and make more sense. The leadership journey is not clear when I first embark upon it, but with experience (oh, this is so important! especially through failures), growth in influence and gain in knowledge, the journey becomes clearer. Study this The Five Levels of Influence one stair at a time, not leaving one to go to one but build upon it. Be a Learner (Level 1), be a Performer (Level 2), be a Leader (Level 3), be a Mentor (Level 4) and aspire to be a Master (Level 5). Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely! "Becoming a leader should not frighten anyone," they conclude, "It should inspire. Leadership is one of the most rewarding endeavors known to mankind. It is also one of the most important."


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