At Fired Up! Culture we like to say that there are four levels of leadership, with each step representing a progression toward a fully engaged workplace culture.

""As you travel through the levels, you increase your skills, abilities, and awareness. You become better able to encourage your team members and support their ability to operate at high levels. At the uppermost level of leadership, each member of your team is doing purposeful work and feels they’re making a contribution to society.

Each leader’s journey through the levels is highly personal. You might take more or less time than someone else and sometimes leaders find themselves working within one level for quite a while. That’s alright! Your goal is to become highly competent at each stage, rather than progressing as quickly as possible.

Take the time you need to develop your skills, apply the lessons you’ve learned, and grow at your own pace.

“When we are foolish, we want to conquer the world. When we are wise, we want to conquer ourselves” John C. Maxwell, author


Starting at Level 0: The Practitioner

Before a leader becomes a leader, they often find themselves in the role of practitioner. A practitioner is someone who is developing their skills and knowledge within a specific craft.

While some leaders might not start out as practitioners, being highly competent in your field is a great asset for any leader. Start by gaining a profound level of skill and knowledge, and later on down the road, you’ll be better able to invoke trust in your team members.

What to work on at this level

The practitioner stage is also an excellent point to begin building an awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses. Challenge yourself to broaden your experiences and abilities, while also weighing your interest in leadership. Many people are perfectly happy remaining as practitioners for the length of their careers.

Stepping Into Level 1: The Position

When you enter into the Position level, it means you’ve been granted positional authority, otherwise known as a title and a role. You’re now a manager or a boss with the ability to influence others. This can be the most dangerous level for people who desire power but are uninterested in fulfilling the expectations of service.

What to work on at this level

Begin studying the fundamentals of leadership and establish your values, determining what type of leader you will be. Search for opportunities to excel within your role and offer creative ideas for improving the systems around you. Get comfortable taking ownership rather than casting blame.

Building Bridges in Level 2: The Connector

As leaders grow, they develop the ability to build strong relationships and ultimately connect their team members to a common purpose. Leaders at the Connector level know how to get everyone on the same page by providing rationale and reason. Their team members are more united, seeing the “why” in the work they do.

What to work on at this level

Attempt to see the world through the eyes of the people you work with and anticipate ways you can support them in becoming more successful. Put your team members ahead of procedures and practice compassionate and wise methods of dealing with difficult people.

Supporting Your Team in Level 3: The Coach

By the time you arrive at the level of Coach, you will have developed into a very competent leader. You’ll be capable of building and molding great teams. The Coach level is where everything comes together, meaning you know how to unite your team members and help them focus on driving meaningful results for your organization.

“My own definition of leadership is this: the capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” — General Montgomery, British Army Officer

What to work on at this level

Leaders at the Coach level create space for everyone to improve and realize their own potential. They accept responsibility for results and step forward to make difficult decisions. They’re capable of communicating their organization’s strategy and vision, and they have the experience to identify the most productive and profitable paths forward.

Ultimately, they should strive to be a very clear representation of what’s best about leadership.

Arriving at the Summit in Level 4: The Culture Champion

At the very top of the levels stands the Culture Champion. A leader in this stage has worked their way thoughtfully through all other levels, landing at a point of true leadership. They apply the principles of leadership constantly and their efforts have a positive impact on the entire organization.

They don’t just build teams but contribute to a standout, amazing culture.

What to work on at this level

Surround yourself with trusted peers and team members who are invested in the same goals and values as you. Search for people with leadership potential and expose them to growth opportunities. And, don’t forget to stick to your values, modeling the behavior you want others to follow.

Ready to get started? Download our free workbook: The Innovative Leader’s Guide to Transforming Company Culture… Starting with Yourself.