Five Levels of Leadership Applied to Lean

When talking about Lean, people often focus on the process management part. They focus on value stream mapping and try to improve processes while neglecting to update leadership and management systems.  The lean leadership model is based on one crucial belief – the leader’s goal is to raise new leaders. To do that, leaders must become teachers and coaches.  A good roadmap is a book- The 5 Levels of Leadership.

In his book, “The 5 Levels of Leadership” John Maxwell details the concept of 5 levels of leadership. The levels represent stages in leadership development starting with being the boss who people follow because you have been appointed as their leader, to reaching the pinnacle of leadership, when you are followed because of who you are and what you represent.

In a series of upcoming blogs, we will discuss each of these levels and how they apply lean leadership. You will learn:

  • How to fulfill the role of a leader, teacher, and coach

  • Raise your effectiveness and improve your performance

  • How to extend your influence beyond your immediate reach and time

  • A roadmap for taking the journey to the highest level of leadership

Leadership is a process, not a position. There was a time when people used the terms leadership and management interchangeably. Most people now recognize that there is a significant difference between the two.

Management is at its best when things stay the same.

Leadership deals with people and their dynamics, which are continually changing. They are never static. The challenge of leadership is to create change and facilitate growth. Those require movement, which is required to move up from one level of leadership to the next.

Too often when people think of their journey into leadership, then envision a career path. What they should consider is their own leadership development! Good leadership isn’t about advancing yourself. It’s about advancing your team.

The Lean principles of continuous improvement, respect for people, and a relentless focus on delivering customer value are making teams and organizations rethink the practices that might have guided them for decades. For Lean to be effective, it needs effective Lean leaders — to champion Lean principles, offer guidance, and ensure that Lean is being used to optimize the entire organizational system for value delivery. Lead people well and help members of your team to become effective leaders, and a successful career path is almost guaranteed.

The 5 levels of leadership provide clear steps for leadership growth and are summarized below.


As always it is an honor serving you and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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