John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership

To build a successful organization you’ll need to build people into level 4 leaders.

To spread joy and help create health, abundance, and peace to every human being you’ll have to become a successful leader and follow these 5 levels. You can’t jump from a lower level, skipping any level, to go to a higher level. You have to pass through each level successfully and to their completion before moving to the next level.

The time you invest in people will return to you a great reward; great friendships, joy, satisfaction, and residual income. It will be difficult at times because you’re dealing with people yet with compassion and understanding people will rally around the principles you believe in and follow your vision.

Anyone can become a leader! Perhaps you believe the great leaders have an easy time with it and that may discourage you as you compare where you’re at to them. That belief is far from the truth. Every leader was once a disaster before they become a master! These skills take time to learn and apply. Every leader embarks on a personal growth journey and so will you as you move toward level 4 and 5 leadership.5-levels-of-leadership

When you develop a follower, you gain a follower. When you develop a leader, you gain a leader and all their followers. When you develop a Level 4 leader, you gain a leader who creates other leaders, and you gain all the leaders and all the followers that they lead.

Level 1; Position

Everyone who enters your organization will start at level 1. They will all start as a customer and move to an associate once they have decided to build an organization. People will follow you here just because they have to. If they want to build an organization they will just follow you because there is no other way. Your first role in leading them is to move both of you to level 2 as quickly as possible.

This is the default leadership position. Everyone starts here. Many associates who want to build an organization stay at this level because they’ve never been taught how to lead. There are several leadership myths that keep associates at this level even though they think they are leading. 

Leadership myths:

  • ManagementBecause you can manage people at this level doesn’t make you a leader. It only makes you a manager. Managers don’t set vision or even try to have a meaningful relationship with people. Leaders in Isagenix create a culture where other leaders don’t need to be managed because they are following a vison.
  • EntrepreneurJust because you’ve taken the bull by the horns and started to recruit other people, you are not a leader. The people an entrepreneur creates are just followers and they will not recruit like you. You believe that if something needs to be done you’ll just do it yourself because it’s easier. That’s being a rugged individualist, not a leader. Many entrepreneurs who lack leadership skills are lonely. 
  • Knowledge; Just because you know more about the product than anyone else or that you’re just plain smart about lots of things doesn’t make you a leader. It just makes you knowledgeable. It feels good to have everyone turn to you for information but if  you’ve noticed, they are not becoming leaders them self. They are just becoming, like you, more knowledgeable.
  • Pioneer; Being first is awesome! It takes a great deal of courage. But to lead is more than being first and courageous. Being a leader sometimes means you are at the back of the line helping someone who wants to become a leader. Pioneers like to go first and fast and usually alone. Leaders like to go long with other people. Leading is a sustained process over time and that certainly doesn’t appeal to a pioneer who is not a leader.
  • Position; this means that you believe you are leader because you’ve achieved a rank, like Crystal Executive and perhaps even have several stars, e.g., 5-Star Golden circle. These kind of people are usually sitting by them self. They show up but alone. Their cycle increase stalls and even goes in reverse.

Level 2; Permission

To effectively lead you’ll have to build relationships with your potential leaders. Relationships on a professional level based on trust and integrity. A perfect starting place is to become their ISA Buddy as you help them transition from being a product user to a distributor. You can’t move to level 3 until you first complete level 2.

At each level your job as a leader is to help them also to become good leaders. When you are at level 2 your job is to help your new people move to level 2 with their new recruits.

This is the first real level of leadership. This is where you begin to build tight relationships with others. You give respect and serve their needs but you’re not a pleaser or enabler, which is really not the kind of relationship at level 2 that works.  As you progress up the levels of leadership you’ll begin to see the importance of creating strong relationships with your leaders and many of your followers who do not wish to become a leader. This is where people follow you because they want to. 

  • Become an ISA Buddy to your new associates who wish to become leaders; An IsaBuddy is really a created companionship. You share courage with people so they don’t have to face their fears alone. You go to appointments with them. You listen to them and understand their fears and strengths. An IsaBuddy’s relationship usually lasts about 60 days. Your new distributors learn a lot during this time and the most valuable thing they learn is how to become an IsaBuddy to their new distributors. The best part of this is two fold; you’ve cemented a good relationship with them and they can take the first step in becoming a leader them self because they can now move into Level 2 leadership.
  • Anyone who desires to build an organization and become a potential level 4 leader will commit to do the following;
    • Give 7-10 hours a week toward building their organization.
    • Create a list with at least 100 names.
    • Will commit to do at least 30 min to an hour a day of personal development.
    • Will enroll in the IsaBody Challenge.
    • Will be on autoship for 7 years.
    • Will engage in the Healthy Mind & Body program.
    • Will attend at least 2 corporate events a year (Celebration and NYKO) and go to one ISA-U and participate in at least one Super Saturday. 
    • They will participate in almost every local event such as a home launch party or training event.

Level 3; Production

Level 3 can’t be achieved until you complete level 2 leadership. When you achieve the rank of a 2-Star Golden Circle Isagenix rewards you with additional access to your 4-PET downline (more contact information about your team) and allows you additional reports to understand your team. This will help you be a more productive level 3 leader. At this level you’ve trained enough other leaders who have gotten to level 2 and you have a team that is duplicating leadership. Leaders are starting to emerge who will be potential level 4 leaders.

You’ll begin to really give of yourself to your organization. You’ll begin to understand the servant leadership role and the sacrifice it is to build people. In non-blitz phases about 20% of your time will be devoted to building people and the other 80% to recruiting.

As you move into level 3 leadership you’ve crossed the line that very few Isagenix associates reach. You’ve shown a commitment to the Isagenix culture and your leader/distributors. You can’t move into level 3 leadership without first completing level 2. As  you have begun to build relationships you’ve now witnessed the wisdom of helping your distributors become leaders who want to create more leaders. This is where leverage is starting to happen and your organization is building momentum.  

Level 3 leadership is not a rank in Isagenix. While those who achieve level 3 leadership will be rewarded for the hard work it takes to build relationships and the service you rendered to help them become level 2 leaders, you’ll most likely be an (Crystal) Executive and probably be a 1 or 2 Star Golden Circle. But the true measure of level 3 leadership and above is the number of other executives you’ve personally recruited and helped grow as a leader. 

Level 4; People Development

This is the level that is the hardest of the first 3 to obtain. This is where you’re producing other Crystal Executives at the 2-Star Golden Circle level and they are also producing Crystal Executives. You’ll begin to step back and let your leaders emerge into more prominent leadership roles on the team such as helping them successfully lead team calls, Super Saturdays and Launch Parties. You’re planning larger team events and they take a big role in their production. You’re helping them also create Crystal Executives too.

You’ll be close to maxing your center and becoming a Platinum. You’ll be well above 5-Star Golden Circle which is probably the lowest level to enter Level 4.

Very few will make it to this level. You’re whole focus at this level is to find and build other Level 4 leaders.

As explained by John Maxwell:

“When you become capable of leading people on Level 4, the upside of leadership becomes even stronger and the potential of the organization increases dramatically. Here are the primary positive benefits of leading on the People Development level:

  1. People Development Sets You Apart from Most Leaders
  2. People Development Assures That Growth Can Be Sustained
  3. People Development Empowers Others to Fulfill Their Leadership Responsibilities
  4. People Development Empowers the Leader to Lead Larger
  5. People Development Provides Great Personal Fulfillment”

Here are some attributes I’ve seen in other level 4 leaders:

  • You have a great deal of momentum on your team. Your cycles and the cycles of your leaders are increasing at a noticeable pace.
  • You feel an excitement and happiness to see your leaders improve their leadership skills!
  • You begin to have one magnificent result after another! As Peta Kelly describes this, “It’s friggin easy!” 


Level 5; Pinnacle

Very few ever reach this level. Jim and Kathy Coover are at this level to give you a point of reference. There are just a few leaders in Isagenix at this level. Herb and Patty Cepeda, Susan Sly, Tony and Randi Escobar, Jay Bennet and Lynn Hagedorn are at this level. There are others close to this level such as Dave and Cari MacArthur,  Emily and Hayden Vavra and Peta Kelly, to name a few.

At this level it’s all about building other people. At this level you stand for a unique brand and message that moves people. You are in constant learning mode and you continue to grow and more importantly give fully of yourself.

A Final Word; The Law of Addition

The interaction between every leader and follower is a relationship, and all relationships either add to or subtract from a person’s life. If you are a leader, then trust me, you are having either a positive or a negative impact on the people you lead. How can you tell? There is one critical question: Are you making things better for the people who follow you? That’s it. If you cannot answer with an unhesitant yes, and give some evidence that backs it up, then you may very well be a subtractor. Often subtractors don’t realize they are subtracting from others. I would say that 90 percent of all people who subtract from others do so unintentionally. They don’t recognize their negative impact on others. And when a leader is a subtractor and doesn’t change his ways, it’s only a matter of time before his impact on others goes from subtraction to division.

In contrast, 90 percent of all people who add value to others do so intentionally. Why do I say that? Because human beings are naturally selfish. I’m selfish. Being an adder requires me to get out of my comfort zone every day and think about adding value to others. But that’s what it takes to be a leader whom others want to follow. Do that long enough, and you not only add value to others—you begin to multiply it. The people who make the greatest difference seem to understand this. If you think about some of the people who have won the Nobel Peace Prize, for example, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and Bishop Desmond Tutu, you see leaders who were less interested in their position and more interested in their positive impact on others. If you read their writings or, more important, study their lives, you notice that they wanted to make things better for others, to add value to people’s lives. They didn’t set out to receive the Nobel Prize; they desired to engage in noble service to their fellow human beings. A servant’s mind-set pervades their thinking.

The 1952 prize winner, Albert Schweitzer, advised, “Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. For remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too.” Adding value to others through service doesn’t just benefit the people being served. It allows the leaders to experience the following:

  • Fulfillment in leading others
  • Leadership with the right motives
  • The ability to perform significant acts as leaders
  • The development of a leadership team
  • An attitude of service on a team

The best place for a leader isn’t always the top position. It isn’t the most prominent or powerful place. It’s the place where he or she can serve the best and add the most value to other people.

John C. Maxwell. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (Kindle Locations 936-937). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

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