I have been reading the book on how Successful people lead by John Maxwell and it is actually enlightening though I have not finished reading it but with my little years of experience I have definitely seen some if not all this pathway play out in leadership, successful people and not so successful people.
Not everyone is born a leader, everyone must learn, unlearn and relearn to become a great leader and the day we stop learning is the day we begin to die. Just like stagnant water we begin to stink and add no value again to life instead we breed negative things.
The first level is POSITION: Many a times this is thrust on one, probably due to heritage, age, longevity at place or work or title but it rarely is a true measure of leadership. Like Maxwell said “People follow you because they have to” we see this a lot in Africa, where there are not great leaders because people follow because they have to not because they necessarily want to and the leader himself or herself do not try to grow or exhibit maturity in this role. If a person remains in this level then he cannot be classified successful and will end up raising disgruntled, unhappy and stagnant people if they only follow him or her because they must.
The second level is PERMISSION: If a leader does great and people begin to see the qualities of a great leader in him or her, he teaches by example, he or she has emotional intelligence, he or she is willing to learn, open to constructive criticism, open to listen to their followers then the followers begin to trust such a person and begin to follow such a person because they want to. It really does not end here because it is one thing for the followers to love you but is your team getting the result?
The Third Level is PRODUCTION: When a result begins to get results, positive results while also developing his followers and carrying them along you begin to see the symptoms of a great leader and people begin to follow such a leader because of what he has done for the organization. His record speaks for him louder than the position thrust on him.
The Fourth Level is PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT: If there is anything that keeps people satisfied, loyal and true to a leader is a people that the leader has done things for in terms of personal development and growth. When a leader invests time, money and knowledge to his followers, they love, respect and go the extra mile for him. But when a leader is only all about his personal performance and nothing about the welfare and growth of his team, he has only robots as workers who would jump ship at the slightest chance. People will follow you for what you have done for them.
Finally, the Fifth Level is the PINNACLE: When you have shown excellence at work, excellence and developing our people, excellence and being in the lead, putting in the work not just barking orders. When you have replicated leaders like you then people will follow you for who you are and what you represent.
We must realize that being successful in leading takes work, dedication, time and sacrifice. You cannot always impose or get your way all the time. In those times when you have to. Your team as to be carried along. You must communicate to them the why. It is no small work, but it is worth it when you see your self replicated in many. Remember for you to be termed a good leader you must be fair, just and objective. Personal bias should be left out and you must realize not everyone would grow at the same rate or speed do not leave any man behind. Finally, you must have successors to be called a successful leader.