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Being a CEO is a lot of responsibility. Out of everyone in the company, you will be the one that everyone focuses on. Because of this, you have to set yourself up as a standout person with desirable qualities. Therefore, it would make sense to be someone to look up to and to role model after. That’s where being an influential CEO comes into play. Having influence not just in the company, but the rest of the business world can do great things. That is if you know what you are doing! This article is to explain how to be an influential CEO with 5 levels of leadership. Let’s get started!

 What are the 5 Stages of Leadership

According to leadership expert and author John Maxwell, there are five levels of leadership that can be reached. His book 5 Levels of Leadership states the outlines for the stages of leadership. It then goes into how to get to each stage of leadership.

At level 5, these leaders have mastered their skills, have the qualities that they want, and have mastered several forms of leadership styles. They create successful companies with thriving work cultures.

The 5 Levels of Leadership

Level 1 Position

A leader chooses the right person to lead. For this reason, people follow because that is who is in charge, not because of influence.

Level 2 Permission

The leader focuses on cultivating relationships with their team. Because of this, usually, the team members then accept them to lead.

Level 3 Production

At this stage, a level 3 leader needs to be focusing on increasing their results. People tend to follow because they trust them with their direction.

Level 4 People Development

By this stage, a level 4 leader is someone who teaches and creates more leaders. They gain more followers because people know that they have a positive influence on their lives.

Level 5 Pinnacle

The rarest leader, these bosses are known for their accomplishments and how they have changed the lives of their employees and their company for the better. They are influential because people know what they have done and what they represent.

Why Level 5 Leaders Matter

Maxwell says it best, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

A leader is someone who wants to help people because they see potential in them. They want to create a better world and the best way to do that is to teach them. Those who rely on natural talents or find the easy way around things don’t get as far.

If you are a level 5 leader then you need to make sure that the employees you are training to be leaders are working through the 5 leaders of leadership. This type of skill set and knowledge is not something learned overnight. It takes time to go through the trials of implementation and error.

How to Become a Better Leader

In order to go through the five levels of leadership, one has to do several tasks to get themselves to the next step.

From Level 1 to Level 2

In order to transform into a better leader, work on these:

  • Have a focus on emotional intelligence
  • Practice situational leadership
  •  Weekly one-on-one meetings with the team
  • Communicate appreciation and recognition to employees
  • Work on giving constructive feedback and asking for feedback on leadership

Moving from Level 2 to Level 3

As you continue working on yourself, focus on these to get to level 3:

  • Create and communicate a clear vision for the company
  • Speak with employees about key performance indicators to assist in goal-making.
  • Make realistic deadlines and track progress.
  • Work on time management skills. Focus on the work that only you can do. Everything else should be for those who are better suited.
  • Create days dedicated to planning and strategy.

Going from Level 3 to Level 4

At this point, this is the start of training other future leaders. Focus on the following at this step:

  • Research servant leadership.
  • Make a mentorship program so employees can learn to lead.
  • Invest in employees. Make plans with them about their goals and help them achieve them.
  • Make major career growth and development for others a personal goal
  • Be a delegate and assign “busy work” to upcoming leaders so you can focus on making more leaders.

Level 4 up to Level 5

At this point, this is where you need to get to becoming a level 5 leader. Work on the following:

  • Mentor other leaders daily by creating a timed schedule.
  • Understand the task that you are trying to achieve. Level 5 leaders don’t spring up overnight.
  • Give yourself reasons to pursue level 5 leadership.
  • Keep track of your employees and how they develop over time.

How to Stay a Level 5 Leader

  • This is more of a lifestyle and way of living, remember that.
  • Focus on your vision for the future.
  • Expand your audience.
  • Guide your leaders on how to make leaders.


There is a lot of work to be done by going through the five levels of leadership. This will take you not just years, but probably decades.

You have to earn that leadership with each person you come in contact with. So, don’t be a bad boss, otherwise, you get stuck on being a level 1 leader and you don’t want to do that!

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