Level 5 leadership should be the aim of all principals

The writer rolls out leadership talks and training services as part of Penman Programmes. vochieng.90@gmail.com. 0704420232

Reaching Level 5 of leadership should be the target of every leader, more so school principals. As a consultant in schools, there is a way I see it. It is what most principal should strive to arrive at: That what worked well in school A may fail in school B. The two institutions call for different tact. The level of leadership attained in school A may not be akin to B. There are different levels on which principals can operate.

Level 1 is position (rights). People follow the leader because it is an obligation. Level 2 is permission (relationships). Leaders must strive to know the people they are leading, and figure out how to work well with them.

Then, Level 3 is production (results). People follow the leader because of what they have done for the organization. Feats, achievements and accomplishments are magnets that endear followers to leaders.

Level 4 is people development (reproduction). Leaders become great not because of the powers they wield or royal rods they brandish, but because of their ability to empower others.

Level 5 is pinnacle (respect). Most leaders can climb the ladder of leadership up to Level 4, but level 5 looks elusive in nature. It requires joint effort, skill, intentionality and great talent. Leaders at Level 5 nurture people to become Level 4 leaders. When people are respectful, pleasant and productive, they can establish a degree of influence with others. Or create class and clout.

Moreover, Level 5 leaders develop Level 5 organizations. They create infinite spectra of opportunities that leaders at lower levels fail flat to offer. Leaders who are at Level 5 transcend their positions. Some leaders think that leadership only remains at Level 1. They hold the view that leadership is only about job position, title, rank, or occupancy of an ego-boosting office. Such leaders rely on threats and intimidation to steer the ship towards the shores of astronomical success.

The veracity of the matter is this: People follow such leaders because they have to do so. They do not have any escape route. Positional leadership is pegged on rights granted by the position and title.

Largely, nothing is wrong with wielding a leadership position, but something becomes seriously wrong when a leader clings only onto the position to peddle influence. Leaders who make it only to Level 1 may be bosses, but they are never leaders. They have subordinates, but not teammates. No wonder, for them to govern, they have to stick on rules, regulations, policies, and organizational charts. Their subjects will only follow them within the stated boundaries of their aura of authority. The people will only do what is required of them.

Lastly, when a leader joins a new organization, they should take the challenge and inject change. The change must be reasonable and rational. Meaning, change sometimes is useful medicine, but bitter like bile. Change should come in piecemeal and in doses. It has to be gradual and glacial. The speed should not be rapid. It should be evolution, not revolution.

By Victor Ochieng’

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