5 levels of leadership

Hey guys - last year at the annual meeting I put up this image adapted from leadership guru John Maxwell’s 5 levels of leadership, a bit tweaked/adapted as I saw it applying to volunteer coordination.


The idea is that we want an organization that will last forever, full of people who say “of all the things going on in my life MakeICT is one of the greatest, and something I am proud to say I’m a part of!” Those people will be great leaders with forward-looking strategic vision, lessons learned, motivation to do great things. But we can’t turn a random new member into a brilliantly strategic contributor in one day. Maxwell calls that pinnacle level 5.

In between, there are levels 1-4.

Level 1: You ask people to do things. Blast out an email about ways to get involved. Advertise a volunteer opportunity. Make it really obvious. Habitat for Humanity is great at this, hand a high schooler a paintbrush and hey look now you’ve got an engaged volunteer. If you’re running a volunteer organization and a month goes by where you haven’t asked somebody to do something, you’re doing it wrong.

Level 2: You know who to ask. You’re an effective leader with an eye out for who might be a great contributor and you go directly to them. You have a relationship with them and they want to hang out for your fun work day.

Level 3: Results. People are doing things without even being asked, because you’ve designed an engaging system that draws people in. Suddenly all you’re doing is sitting back and checking to make sure nothing’s fallen off the map.

Level 4: People development - you have trained your successor, people aren’t just doing the necessary tasks but asking their friends to do it. Now you can really move on to bigger strategic things.

Level 5: An organization full of stand-out leaders who’ve created a legacy and a volunteer structure that as smooth as clockwork. New people know just where to fit in, nobody is horribly burnt out or overworked, there is music in the air and unicorns grazing in the fields.

Leadership students, did I get this right? What level is MakeICT at, and what level are you at? Don’t tell me what level I’m at, I know it’s not 5 :slight_smile: I can name a few things we did right this year, a few things we did not do right, sometimes I don’t even think we’re at level 1. But when our leaders last year were saying “I’m burnt out, this can’t last, this place is going to hell!” I tried to point them towards this model because I saw some hope for it. Or when people say “nobody around here helps, all the work is done by a few people!” well… this is how we change that. Or maybe we can develop our own model and re-write the rules! But leadership and engagement are not new topics, they’ve been studied for thousands of years. Surely some of it applies to us!


This is exactly what makeict needs. If I were to add my vision for it (which is really taking a little from everyones ideas), it would be as follows.

  1. Leadership training
  2. Board outlines and encourage needed committees and leadership opportunities.
  3. Quarterly committee meetings with the board. Support committees and discuss issues, such as reporting volunteer hours from each committee for grant writing and any other item that encourages committees to support each other.
  4. Make volunteering front and center on the website and any social media.

We have a lot of chiefs and not enough Indians. I have absolutely no problem being an Indian. Lol


The thing is, is the are a million things that could make a big difference at the space and the 9 board members can’t physically do them all. The idea is to put systems in place and delegate those items.

As an example, I think it was the volunteer committee that got onto the subject of making videos for the proper use of tools at the space. I know we have videographers around that would likely want to help make them especially if they could learn editing tricks to really make polished videos. The 9 board members may not know who those people are, but 8 or 9 committees certainly would have a better chance. If the board supports them or they find a fundraising endeavor to afford editing software we could have the makings of a nice video editing group and class.

That same mentality is repeatable and would also work with “area committees”. The board elects the area lead and they lead the “area committee”. Pretty sure this is how Dallas makerspace does it.


Right on the money.

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One of our most basic problems is we are doing instead of leading.
We need to stop doing everything ourselves.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan

(and, wow, I never ever expected to quote Reagan :slight_smile: )


I promise to all of you if you see me doing something that you could do, say the word! I will have no bad feelings about you taking my volunteer job, ever! I manage to find more.

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