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The 5 Kinds of Employees You Need

Posted October 29, 2019


At StrongLead, our business is to help grow leaders who grow businesses. One of the first steps to growing as a leader is to recognize that leadership occurs at all levels of an organization, but not in the same way. In fact, there are five levels of leadership – one for each of the five kinds of employees you need in your organization.

Level One: Highly Capable Individual. The heart and soul of any business are the workers who make productive contributions to you company’s success. An employee at this level leads himself, making the most of his talent, skill, knowledge, and good work habits.

Level Two: Contributing Team Member. It’s a real step up when an employee can apply her capabilities as part of a team, not just as an individual contributor.  Level Two employees lead by example, helping others contribute to team success.

Level Three: Team Leader. It’s a big step from contributing to a team to leading a team.  Leading a team requires organization of resources and people toward the accomplishment of company objectives. Employees who can get great work from other employees are a huge asset to your company.

Level Four: Effective Leader. Unlike team leaders, Level Four employees exert influence that has an impact across the entire organization.  Employees (and owners) at this level own the vision of the company and stimulate teams to accomplish important goals related to the vision. Leaders at this level serve as a catalyst for success throughout the company.

Level Five: Executive. The rarest of talent, the Level Five Leader combines a strong professional will and personal humility in service to the company’s enduring greatness. Not all owners or executive-level leaders actually lead at this level; many remain at Level Four, creating a lid on the growth of the company.

Take a moment and reflect on your company. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Be honest, do you have what might be called “Level Zero” employees? These are individuals who are not highly capable and need to be developed (or let go).
  2. Where’s the leadership gap? For most companies it’s at Level Three – they fail to develop strong leaders in the supervisor, manager, and team leader roles and this deficiency creates a painful pinch for leaders and owners.
  3. Where are you? It’s not a moral failure if you’re not totally fulfilling what’s needed at your current leadership level; after all, everyone needs to grow into the role they occupy. However, it is a moral failure if you’re not actively growing and striving to become the best you can be in the role you have.

It makes sense to invest in all levels of employees, but an especially high-leverage investment occurs at Level 3 —  strengthening the leadership of these employees helps shield Levels 4 and 5 from the details, drama, and daily decisions that need to be handled at Levels 1 & 2, but too often get escalated to Levels 4 & 5, choking out the effectiveness of your top-level leaders.  StrongLead’s High Performance Leadership program (HPL) is a great way to invest in Level 3 employees.  Learn more here.