Here at The Leadership Mission we refer to the different levels of leaders in our challenges and Leader Resources. These levels aren't anything official, they are just our attempt to help keep things in perspective while reading our content. We find it helpful sometimes to know if a particular challenge and/or resource would be right for you or a good use of your time for your current level.
You might fit easily into one level or another and you might be a blend of multiple levels, that's okay. Don't get hung up on which level you might or might not be be in your leadership journey. The point is to always keep growing, learning and honing your leadership craft.
While we do include length of time in our levels, it's important to note that time does not always equal growth as a leader. There are plenty of leaders that have been leaders for decades and have as much leadership skill as an aspiring leader. The opposite is also true that some leaders just have natural skills and abilities and can lead well beyond their years.
Experiences, maturity and life challenges all play a part in how quickly someone might progress through these levels. A 26 year old military veteran with multiple tours of duty in combat zones who is raising children, was captain of their sports team and a volunteer leader in their church has arguably more “leadership experience” than a 45 year old who only ever climbed the corporate ladder, wasn’t involved in outside activities and has no children.
As with anything though, this is very subjective, individualized and unique to each and every leader. Not every situation is as easily distinguishable as the above comparison. Nor is one leader better than another.
Not everyone will fit neatly into one level or another. This is just our way of trying to bring some kind of structure to the complex discussion of leadership!
So here they are in order from least experienced to most experienced.
This level is for the leader is at the very beginning of their leadership journey. Typically this person has less than a year of experience as a leader in any capacity. This might be due to age or it might be this is someone who was happy "just being part of the team/group" or "just punching a clock" and to this point, not looking to make a difference beyond their immediate role. However, they've decided that they want something more and want to start taking on more responsibility.
This level is for the leader that has between 1-5 years of leadership experience. In the workplace, they might be in a front line supervisor or manager position. Or perhaps they have been in a leadership role in their school, church, charity or social/business club.
This leader is just starting to understand soft skills, the importance of emotional intelligence and the dynamics of team leadership.
They have a few tools in their tool belt but can definitely benefit from an experienced or veteran leader to help guide and grow their skills.
This level is usually for the leader that has 5-10+ years of leadership experience. In the workplace, they might be in a senior manager, director and maybe even executive role. Like the new leader, they may also have gained this experience outside of the workplace.
What really distinguishes the experienced leader from the new leader though, is usually a much higher level of emotional intelligence, maturity and range of soft skills.
Experienced leaders start to learn to take their own counsel and need little direction from veteran leaders.
Most leaders spend most of their adult life in this level unless they have had the opportunity to take on an above average amount of challenges.
This highest level of experience for a leader. In the workplace, this individual is usually at the director or executive level with 10-15+ years of leadership experience.
What really separates this level from the experienced level is an extremely high level of emotional intelligence and maturity. This leader has “been there, done that” many times over and isn’t usually surprised by anything.
They typically understand many of the nuances and drivers of human behavior, especially in the workplace. They are often counted on to provide wisdom, sound judgement and a “steady hand on the wheel.”
Veteran leaders are capable of taking their own counsel as they have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from.
As we stated above, many leaders can fall into one of these levels and sometimes a blend of multiple levels.
In no way should anyone ever be either ashamed or complacent with their level. Leaders must always be learning, growing and seeking feedback from their team, peers and loved ones to ensure they are the best leader they can be.
What do you think of our levels? Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear your thoughts!