Intrapersonal Revolution

By Juan Carlos ErdozĂĄin Rivera

“The 21st century is about the search for rich, meaningful experiences. This search requires self-knowledge, as speed and connectivity make the intangibles more important and more valuable. All the rewards, kudos, and accolades will now come from adding the intangible of who you are to what you do. This means that self-information and personal growth are increasingly in the forefront, since change is driven by self-esteem, not the intellect”

Morris R. Shechtman

Many years ago, most people thought that Leadership could be defined through Charisma, Elegance, Good Manners and preferably with physical beauty.

Then people believed that Leadership was a Divine Gift given to Special Persons, who could hold the positions of Kings and Queens, Counts, Marquises, Presidents of Countries, Prime Ministers, CEOs, CFOs and Directors.

Because of that and fortunately throughout the years, different models have been developed on this topic. Various of gurus like John Kotter, Leonard Schlesinger, Simon Sinek and many more, conducted lots of scientific and empirical studies on leadership skills, styles and theories from a learning and developing point of view.

In addition, there is another group of personalities who have investigated and concluded what leadership really means; among them are Ken Blanchard, Morris R. Shechtman and John Maxwell among others.

As Ken Blanchard says in his book Mission Possible, authentic Leadership is conducted by “Everyone living in organizations today who are dealing with the reality of having to improve their present operation and design their future at the same time”.

In mentioned book Ken ask, Which approach is better- improving what is, or creating what isnÂŽt? The answer is YES! This mean Both.

Because of that, Morris R. Shechtman defined together with scientific sociologists, that humanity has experienced four great waves of change:

First Wave - Agricultural Revolution

Second Wave - Industrial Revolution

Third Wave - Technological Revolution

Fourth Wave - Information/

Communications Revolution

Fifth Wave - Intrapersonal Revolution / The Internal Frontier

On terms of Morris R. Shechtman, Leadership imply “Creating the Personal Transformations that Lead to Success” whom Morris defined as “The Fifth Wave Leadership” because is part of the of Fifth Wave of Change, also known as the INTRAPERSONAL REVOLUTION (INTERNAL FRONTIER) and imply a CHANGE of inside of the person towards the outside.

The Internal Frontier is a process of change from Inside (one of her components is Insight) to Outside (Insight Out), this mean a change capable of generating an internal transformation of the leader that translates to the outside of it, generating a great change in the environment of the person and those who follow.

Insight = Vision

Insight out = Understanding

The goal of organizational leadership is based on growth and to grow, change is required:

a) Growth

b) Change

The administrators normally guarantee a stable business (generally without growth or with little growth) named efficiency and the leaders by the other side, guarantee a good administration but with a Vision of the Future, to achieve the growth of the company and for that the change is required; efficiency and effectiveness

By reasons above mentioned, usually a good administrator is not a good entrepreneur and a good entrepreneur is not a good administrator.

The entrepreneur needs to guarantee his Vision of the Future a second on board to ensure the efficiency in the administration of the company, hence derive the two fundamental concepts mentioned before efficiency and effectiveness and therefore, usually in organizations appear the figures of the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operator Officer.

So, we can say that Leadership is the art of leading others to achieve a result that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. A ship without captain is out of control. Therefore, a good leader is essential within an organization. Leadership is not management or directing, it’s much more than that.

Managers manage things like planning, measuring, monitoring, coordinating, problem solving, people management and so on. Leaders lead or guide people and leadership is the ability to inspire and influence others to achieve the organizational ambitions (Mission, Vision, Core Values and Objectives).

Throughout the years different models have been developed on this topic. Various of gurus like John Kotter, Leonard Schlesinger, Simon Sinek and many more, conducted lots of scientific and empirical studies on leadership skills, styles and theories from a learning and developing point of view.

Because of that, next I will reproduce the article “5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell” by Patty Mulder who is a Dutch expert on Management Skills, Time Management, Personal Effectiveness and Business Communication. She is also a Content writer, Business Coach and Company Trainer and lives in the Netherlands (Europe). Note: her article was written in Dutch and translated in English.

John Maxwell and the 5 Levels of Leadership

Background Levels of Leadership

No matter we’re talking about a business man, a football trainer or a teacher; the thing they have in common is that they are leaders. But at what level of leadership are they, how do they treat their employees, what do they think about results, deadlines and so on? Every leader operates at his own level. According to John C. Maxwell, there are five levels. John C. Maxwell is a well-known American author of mainly leadership books.

In this book “The 5 Levels of Leadership”, he describes 5 leadership levels that eventually lead to a phase of maturity. With this book, he wants to help leaders understand and increase their effectiveness.

What are the 5 Levels of Leadership?

The first level is the starting point of leadership. For each level, John C. Maxwell explains how the respective leader can be identified and what that leader can do to grow to the next, higher level. The leadership level can vary per person and even has to do with the type of organization someone works in and the personal development leaders go through. The levels start with insight into personal relationships and the connections with the results that are being achieved. From there, it continues to the level at which employees believe in their leader’s vision. A result of that is that leaders will properly train their successors. It ends when the leader is perceived as an example by the people around them. According to Maxwell, after every level there is always the possibility to grow to the level above it.

1. Position

This is the starting point of leadership. It is the level at which the leader has achieved the right to lead in an organization without any difficulty. Anyone can be appointed to this position. For that reason, it tells you nothing about the person’s leadership qualities. At this level, the leader is not or barely able to influence others and he uses his job title to get things done. John C. Maxwell argues that the expression, ‘it is lonely at the top’ is typical for this level of leadership; employees do not see the leader as someone they can trust. Let alone someone to discuss things with. Employees who report to a leader like that are generally unmotivated, prefer to avoid him and even consider changing jobs.

This level is common in growing organizations. Departments are getting larger and that means an increased need for managers. Usually, one of the employees is given the newly awarded status of leader. Because he has little or no experience, it is only about his status and not about who he is or how he handles his employees. Only when this new leader realizes that there is more to leadership, will he be able to grow to the next level. This level is therefore a fine starting point to experience and learn the ropes of leadership.

2. Permission

This leadership level is about the human relationships that the leader has built up around him. It is like he is given ‘permission’ to act as leader; he is a trustworthy individual and his employees tend to agree with the decisions he makes. Because he has a good relationship with them, the leader realizes that it becomes easier for employees to make extra effort. Part of their motivation comes from themselves, but it is also a result of their leader believing in them. Vice versa, the employees believe in their leader and the goals he strives for. Good relationships strengthen the cooperation and increase loyalty and mutual trust.

A leader at his level would do well to show genuine interest in his colleagues and employees and get to know them better personally. Colleagues and employees have a home life, health issues, personal traits and hobbies that, deserve attention. It is also wise to compliment colleagues and employees and bring out the best in them. The building of a good relationship, one based on mutual respect, leads to a pleasant working atmosphere and team spirit. However, it does not necessarily always lead to positive results. That requires growing towards leadership level 3.

3. Production

It is about the measurable results that have been achieved under the leader’s leadership. What has the leader meant to the company. The fact that this level comes after building good interpersonal relationships, has to do with the fact that colleagues and employees are vital to achieving positive results. Only when a team can take steps together, believe in one another and trust each other, will it be possible to achieve proper production. When employees are only told to work hard without any show if interest or empathy towards them from the leader, there is the risk that they will burn out. The leaders at this level use their good relationships to make their vision reality. As such, it is important that a leader makes clear to everyone in the organization what his vision is, so everyone can follow the same course.

This leader is much loved within his team. But that is also where a danger lies. If this leader gets another position within the organization, it is likely that the team will disintegrate. After all, they are dependent on the guidance they used to receive from their leader. To avoid leaving the team as a ship adrift in a situation like that, it is possible for the leader to grow to the fourth level of leadership.

4. People development

At this management level, it is about the development and stimulating of employees. It is essential for a growing organization to have leaders at this fourth level. This leader thinks it is important to train his employees. That is why he delegates work to them. By delegating, he gives them confidence and empowers them to develop themselves. This confidence should to be genuine and communicated clearly to the employee. According to John C. Maxwell, the level 4 leader spends about 80% of his time on coaching colleagues and employees, and only 20% on his own productivity. In contrast to level 3 leadership, it means letting go. The focus on results is of secondary importance.

The main challenge for leaders at this level is to put the growth of others first, above their own interests. The more leaders with the right qualities, the better this will be for the organization’s Mission and Vision. The newer leaders are trained, the more this leads to productive teams. Furthermore, these newly trained employees will appreciate what the leader has done for them personally. Some of those ‘mentor relationships’ are likely to last a lifetime.

5. Pinnacle

The leader at this level has reached the top of what is possible. His status is based on a foundation of respect. His employees and colleagues appreciate the leader in see an example in him. This is about leaders who remain in the employees’ thoughts even after they leave, making them live on as legends. From level 4, they will also leave behind new leaders in the company, which will ensure a constant flow of new generations of leaders.

The use of this type of leaders also creates level 5 organizations, who are (globally) successful and whose founders are still famous. Examples of this are the brewer Heineken and the technology company Philips that became successful through research and innovation. The founders themselves were typical level 5 leaders, who left behind a positive reputation through their dedication.


Growth from one level to the next happens slowly but steadily. It is however important to start at the first level; from here leaders can develop and improve, which enables them to take the step to the next level. All levels are built on top of each other and therefore cumulative. A leader will still use the skills he had at level 2 after he reaches level 3. Only when he is effective enough at the 2nd level, can he take the step to the 3rd level. This way, no knowledge or experience is lost, and can the leader continue to improve himself.

In short, and using the evolution of leadership theory, we can say that what mentioned John Maxwell in his book "5 Levels of Leadership" is a very modern and innovative approach where lets us know that leadership is not a goal, it is a Processes that we can all develop; The Leader is sometimes born with those abilities, but also, everyone can develop the process proposed by Maxwell to become Leaders.