What is the Leadership Ladder?

22 Mar 2023 | News

Ingenium CEO, Dr. James Ring discusses the leadership ladder, and the steps leaders take as they journey through their careers.

One doesn’t wake up in the morning on your first day in a leadership role and find that you are a master of your trade, it takes time, effort, resilience, and determination to move to the top of your game.

What is the leadership ladder?

A great way to look at this progression is the leadership ladder. This is a five-stage model which helps you understand how a person moves over time from a highly capable individual to an executive. It looks at the traits they display to get them up the levels and it is important to note there is no definitive time scale on progression, everybody is different.

Level One – Highly Capable Individual:

This is where a highly capable individual enters the workforce. This is likely a graduate or at least a young individual starting out on their journey. It is obvious from the start that there is something special about this person. They show great aptitude for their work, engage well as part of a team, display good knowledge, and generally show good habits in work. However, you are still raw and inexperienced and lack experiential knowledge, others on the team probably spend a lot of time coaching and mentoring you on the role you are in. You can probably recognise yourself here when you first entered the workplace, you were likely that highly capable individual.

Level Two – Contributing Team Member:

This is where that highly capable individual has now shown, over a period of time, a consistently high level of achievement. You are no longer seen as a graduate and are recognized as being a key member of the team, taking on more responsibility, and showing the first signs of leadership, perhaps leading smaller projects or parts of bigger ones. Your credibility is growing as is your experience. You are now recognized as a contributing team member. Again, most of you will have seen this in your own journey to date or are currently working with them.

Level Three – Competent Manager:

This is where you get your first real chance at being a leader in your own right, it is the first time you will have people directly reporting to you on a regular basis. Perhaps you are a project manager or managing a small team of people within a business unit. Here you are focused on managing people and processes towards a defined end goal.

Level Four – Effective Leader:

At this stage you are now moving up the career ladder, you have managed a number of projects or teams successfully and now you are becoming more comfortable in the leadership space. You take on more responsibility and maybe oversee several projects or teams. Your role is no longer so much in the detail of every project but overseeing a number of them. You are more focused on motivating your people, building commitment, and influencing them all to a common end goal. You now see much more use of your people management skills than purely process management.

Level Five – The Executive:

To get to this level people have shown outstanding success in leading multiple projects and teams, they have demonstrated the ability to motivate and influence. However, leaders who reach this top-level have the paradoxical blend of high levels of humility, despite exceptional performance, they do not brag about their achievements. People warm to these leaders because of that humility and respect their track record. Not everybody will achieve this level of leadership but for most people, it is a goal.

It is important to note that there is no timeline on how fast you move through the levels, it depends on numerous factors such as how far you actually want to go, you might be happy to stay at level three. The company may not present you with enough opportunities for progression as all the roles are filled and will be for a while, you may slip up along the way which might halt your career, there may be personal circumstances that are more of a priority.

The important thing is to recognize where on the ladder you are and where you want to be and work towards this goal as well as where others are on the ladder and ask yourself if you can help them move up the ladder. This ability to help others will also help you move to level five.

If you are on your leadership journey at any level, LDP Online can help you to improve your skills to become a more effective leader.  LDP Online boasts 33 self-paced online courses for leaders on every step of their journey. Contact info@ingeniumtc.com to get more information.