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Developing the Leader Within You: Chapter 1

This week, we’re back with Brad and Jason talking about Chapter 1 of Developing the Leader Within You. We’ll discuss what the definition of leadership is as well as the five levels of leadership. Also, it seems Jason really wants someone to talk to him about his tea, so if you’re feeling friendly (or British) drop him a line.


8 Responses

  1. Ledwins says:

    I think that I’m on either Level 2: Permission or Level 3: Production with most people with whom I have a working relationship. I think I definitely have relationship capital with everyone with whom I work, so I feel as though I have reached Level 2 with most if not all of my team members. I try to do this by not just “being a boss” but also getting to know who they are outside of work, knowing their interests and personal goals, and relating to them on a personal level as we do work or as I ask them to do tasks (which is a useful skill when having to ask people to do unpleasant tasks especially). I think I have reached Level 3 with many people, but probably not all people, and that’s probably just because not all people care enough about their part time job to be called to a common goal, although I think Breakout is a compelling enough job that it often does allow people to become immersed in it and have that shared goal, despite it being a “part time job,” because it’s so fun and rewarding compared to other jobs like working retail or food service. Being able to show my team how rewarding and fun it can be, to engage them with each other, the guests, and the goals of the brand is how I have been able (I believe) to reach this third level of leadership with many of the people with whom I work. I guess you can’t reach everyone, but you can certainly try, and I do my best to. I think I have reached Level 4 with a few specific people, but not the bulk of my team, which is fine because now I know where I can grow as a leader!

  2. Basher says:

    I’ll jump in here first because I *feel* like most people will say something similar. My “level” with people I’ve known for longer is much higher than that of relatively new acquaintances. I can tell that I have grown as a leader over the last couple of years though by how quickly a new acquaintance goes from a level 1 to a level 3.

    Early on, it would take a while for people I had a level 1 relationship with to move to a level 2 relationship. Part of that was being a new leader and learning some of the technical aspects of the job on the fly. I didn’t exude confidence. However, with a little experience, I gained confidence and clarity in my role as a leader and was able to get to level 2 with most people much more quickly. Getting from level 2 to level 3 requires time and continued effort. I’ve reached level 3 with some of our longer-standing employees, but not being able to see (or not intentionally making time to see) each employee weekly means that some stay on level 2 for much longer.

    • Brad says:

      Brian, take a look at the comment I left for Chris and answer for yourself. What are the next steps you think you need to take to move from 3 to 4?

  3. Jillian Kerekes says:

    It’s interesting to think about these levels and how they pertain to leadership at Breakout Games. I know that I have a core group of people with whom I am probably Level Three and even Four; they have followed me from my previous world at Hallmark and into Breakout Games, some came from David’s Bridal to Hallmark, and there are some former staff members of mine who will call me and ask for advice or feedback on their careers even though they have not worked for me in years. Currently, forty percent of my staff have worked for me in different roles; I honor that, because we have built in trust, friendship, learning, and growth. They know how I see guest service and they strive to bring the same to each interaction; they expect feedback and I hope to receive it from them as well. They’re honest with me, and hold me to the highest possible standard; I make it my goal to not let them down.

    That being said, I think that it has been difficult to move beyond a Level 2 with everyone here; I just do not have the same face to face time with them that I would in a different setting. I do not want to make each interaction a coaching one — I make sure that I learn about my team and what their passions and drives are — but there is not the time for a one on one conversation each week that you might be able to work into a retail setting. Fortunately, because I have such buy in from such a large number of my team, I know that they are doing the work for me as well. I also am aware of the team member who has the most influence with the rest of the team, and ensure that I include her in my decision making process, which makes everyone feel as if they have had buy in, even if they weren’t officially included.

    At the manager’s retreat, I feel like there was a great deal of exchanging leadership skills as well; I think I was able to assist some people through some of their challenges, and I was definitely able to learn from my peers about different approaches to our unique challenges.

    • Jason Thompson says:

      Hey Jillian. Thanks for sharing that. I like how you thought through how it specifically applies to Breakout. We definitely have some unique obstacles to overcome but it’s a huge first step to be aware of the issues! Once we know, then we can begin working toward creative solutions. Love your insight!

  4. Chris Meriwether says:

    Maxwell certainly presents an intriguing view of leadership. Steps building on one another until at the top you are simply leading by the force and gravity of all your prior leadership exploits. Makes we question if I personally know any level 5 “personhood” leaders. I imagine they are few and far between. I’d love to get there one day…
    Another thought that comes to mind is how sad it is that so many leaders get stuck in level 1 “position” leadership. A few less than inspiring bosses from the past spring to mind.

    I can clearly think back to my much clumsier days of leadership when I was level 1 trying to win people over and achieve level 2 status. Navigating that transition was quite challenging. In reality I’m probably a solid level 3 leader, but I’d like to think of myself presently as an aspiring level 4 leader. Over time I’ve grown to appreciate the value of developing people who are also developing other people. That’s where influence and responsibility are cranked up considerably, but the benefits are entirely worth it. Empowering others to lead effectively, and helping them learn from my successes and failures, is one of the best uses of my time and energy.
    Which brings up an interesting point. We can really only lead out of our own personal experience. That’s probably why level 5 leaders are always veteran leaders who’ve already been through the trenches for a long time. They’ve been there, done that, and have gathered knowledge and wisdom from all of it to pass on to others.
    I have to remind myself to be patient and let this process play out in myself. Great leaders aren’t made in a day. More like a decade. Or two.

    • Brad says:

      Chris, in terms of the next step of the process what do you think the next stage of development is for you to take a step from level 3 to 4? What are the areas you think you can grow more into a level 4 position?

      The experience part of what you said is dead on. It takes a lot of time, relational investment, and repeated intentional effort to become and develop as a leader. With each step building on the last you cannot jump or skip from one to another.

  5. Chris Meriwether says:

    Honestly Brad, as counter intuitive as it seems, I think the most crucial action I can take to step up from a level 3 leader to a level 4 is to start taking my own leadership development more seriously.
    A level 4 leader is someone who is developing other leaders, and as such they need to have a heightened degree of leadership knowledge, awareness, experience, and training in general. I’ve heard many time that you can’t lead someone to a place you’ve never been. The same applies here. I can’t develop high quality leaders until I am one myself.

    How to practically do that is another question entirely. Read books, push myself to take on challenges and responsibilities that stretch me as a leader, develop mentoring relationships with seasoned leaders, perhaps I could take more time to reflect on my leadership wins and losses. Those are the first things that come to mind. Does anyone have any other strategies for honing their leadership skills?
    Mike, Mitch, or Adam I’d love to know your thoughts on this.
    Yeah, I called you out! Boom

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