The 5 Levels of Influence

A framework for influence that every leader should follow

I’m a big fan of John C. Maxwell.

I’ve been reading and applying his thoughts on leadership since the beginning of my career.

Since his early books, John has stated that leadership is influence.

I couldn’t agree with him more.

One of my favourite books is The 5 Levels of Leadership.

In this book, John outlines a framework for influence that every leader should follow.

Here’s my take on it.

Level I – Position

The first level of influence is position.

At this level, people follow you because they have to.

You might be a new manager or running a project.

This level is the weakest because it relies on positional power.

You may have people reporting to you but you haven’t proven yourself as a leader.

Level II – Permission

The second level of influence is permission.

At this level, people follow you because they want to.

You have taken the time to develop a relationship with the people you lead.

The interesting thing is that you can build relationships with people who don’t report to you.

You skip right to level II even if you do not have any direct reports.

This is why you can be a leader regardless of your actual position within an organization.

Level III – Production

The third level of influence is production.

At this level, people follow you because of what you have done for the organization.

People respect leaders who achieve results.

This level is achieved as you build a reputation of making positive things happen and get stuff done.

The secret here is to build a history of positive successes throughout your career.

Know your value, deliver measurable results and build your reputation.

Level IV – People Development

The fourth level of influence is people development.

At this level, people follow you because of what you have done for them.

This level is achieved as you invest your time and energy creating other leaders.

You share your knowledge and mentor the next generation of leaders.

Your value as a leader evolves from your ability to deliver results, even through other leaders.

Level V – Pinnacle

The fifth level of influence is the pinnacle.

At this level, people follow you because of who you are and what you represent.

You have found your purpose and you live your life by a clear set of principles.

You have spent a lifetime improving yourself, achieving results and helping others along the way.

This is the legacy every mindful leader should strive for.


Here’s a chart that summarizes the 5 levels.

Your Influence Action Plan

1) Determine what level you have currently achieved.

Take a moment to reflect on your journey as a leader.

Which level of influence have you achieved?

Is it time to take on the additional responsibilities of the next level?

2) Build positive habits around your current level.

Once you have identified your current level, build positive habits to master it.

Do you need regular appointments in your calendar to build relationships?

Do you need to review your productivity strategy to enhance results?

Is it time to mentor someone on your team and develop their leadership capabilities?

Whatever activities you choose, make sure they are aligned with responsibilities of that level.

3) Don’t neglect the levels below as you move up.

Remember, each level lays the foundation of the one before.

Don’t neglect your responsibilities from the previous level as you move into the next one.

Share Your Journey

Do you have questions about the 5 Levels of Influence?

Simply enter it in the comments below.

I will be sure to read and reply.

If you would like to learn more about influence, simply head over to and sign-up for my free online training called The 31 Lessons of Mindful Leadership.

I help Mindful Leaders battle the forces of mediocrity in their lives, their teams, and their organizations. I do this by helping you create a personalized Rapid Success Strategy that enables you to Walk The Path, Unleash Your Superpower, and Work On Purpose.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.