Unlock Your Leadership Potential: The 4 Levels of Self-Leadership

How do you feel about your own leadership performance within your company? 

How effectively do you lead your team to help them achieve strong business results? 

I encourage you to pay attention, because your immediate response is likely an honest one. It’s evidence about how you really see yourself in your leadership role—you know whether you show up each day confident in your position, demonstrating your best self, or not. Heed that honest inkling within; it’s your first clue. 

And next, think about your leadership effectiveness. It is seen in how the team works together to achieve outcomes in your business. How do you influence their individual abilities? Does your leadership help to keep the team aligned contributors to the company’s overall goals? Are they clear and empowered in their role? Give this some thought. To unlock your leadership potential, understand the “4 levels of self-leadership” that I share below. Which level clicks for you? 

Are you feeling unsure? Are you curious about your own potential and about the levels of leadership you can achieve? If so, read on. The truth is, self-leadership is continuously developed throughout your lifetime (and mine).      

At the center of every successful business are key leaders at every level. No longer are businesses managed by one CEO at the top. Unlike days past, business today is too complex and fast-moving for one person to have authoritarian control of everyone and everything in the company. The business needs a unified and engaged team to drive for business outcomes together.

Effective leaders must possess a wide range of qualities that we, at Leading Edge Teams, refer to as  self-leadership. You develop self-leadership by gaining self-awareness about behaviors that advance your leadership abilities and effectiveness. (CCORE Empowerment Process

To focus on the “people part” that supports the “business part,” takes conscious awareness of triggers and reactive behaviors that hinder your leadership effectiveness. You must choose to be intentional about this area of development. It is vital for your growth as a leader. A willing curiosity and commitment to learning is your first step. And choosing to not resist needed change is courageous, mindful self-leadership.   

I’ll jump right in.

Being in Level 1 as a leader is a painful and discouraging experience.

We see it often, so it’s not unexpected or unusual. The good news, it’s not a place any leader, in any role, needs to stay. Let’s take a closer look at this and why you and your business cannot thrive in Level 1.          


Often, the person at this entry level stage of leadership feels powerless. They may feel their situation is unusual, with the ongoing changes and challenges of the business only happening to him or her. With no control over company outcomes, pressures mount, productivity plummets. Professionally this leader may feel misunderstood, frustrated, and overworked. Discouragement and burnout is just around the corner. 

There are so many problems to be fixed, leaders in Stage 1 work in continual “crisis mode.”

Leadership at this beginning level is often by default. The person in this position has a title that holds certain rank and authority, but little influence, due to their own limited leadership skills. They may be a person who has strong vision and passion, and presumes to know all, but experience teaches that no one does. The vast majority start here, so there’s no shame in it.

Growth is stunted if a person at this stage of leadership doesn’t seek a trusted, respected mentor or proven training to support them in becoming more self-aware in how to develop the “people part” of their leadership skills. This begins by accepting and acknowledging emotionally reactive behaviors. Identifying their own feelings and needs, as well as those of others within the team/company opens the door to growth. This is evidence of a willingness to develop a healthy vulnerability along with their leadership skills. 

I see this in my work with new clients every day. The good news is that training people in proactive, transformational leadership is our specialty. Leading Edge Teams has an abundance of free resources for you, right here on our website. I encourage you to read our web pages, our blogs on every topic, and our variety of podcasts. Take the quiz. You’ll find it interesting, and of course contacting us for a complementary “Discovery Call” with me is always available. 

Trust me, if you think you are in Level 1 of leadership, this awareness will bring you new opportunities. It’s good news, really! I welcome you to become a co-creator in change—yours and your teams! For leaders who are functioning in self-protection, it’s important to shift their mindset. This understanding is all part of the situational development and adjustments business leaders encounter in their roles. If this sounds like you, you aren’t alone!  

For the person who falls into this category, rather than feeling powerless or out of control, the concept of mindful leadership eases the load and helps pave the way, right away. Mindful leadership gives insight into the importance of self-awareness, the power of a pause, the purpose of curiosity and the reasons for vulnerability. 

Tools and facets of growth are simply stated in this blog. It is a journey when a person realizes new learning, self-awareness and sincere effort is what moves them onward and upward in levels of leadership. Truly, leaders that feel they are in Level 1, with commitment, can gain the ability to handle situations of every shape and size. Stress decreases, time is saved, and days are pleasant when leaders learn how to function with new skills and proven tools. Their best self emerges.

Leadership development builds a trusted reputation as you move forward, showing up as your best self every day. 


At this level, self-awareness begins to transform leadership priorities and style. Potential increases day-by-day. Stressors may be the same, but a leader’s reaction to them is different. Ownership and acceptance inspire behavioral changes in how they lead and listen to others, delegate and communicate. Being in tune with performing as their best self is a conscious priority. Their impact on people and business success becomes clear, driving change. Leaders who don’t recognize that people are their greatest asset, may find this level a challenge.

Level 2 leadership strongly affects how everyone in the company performs. A leader’s own behavior begins to transform, especially seen in how they manage high stakes decisions, stress and pressure. Trust and influence builds based on more effective communication and utilization of proven teamwork tools. Leaders at this level attract and hire other ‘A’ Players, who have similar values. This sets the foundation for beginning to build a strong team that assures company success.

Work environment is tremendously improved as leaders at this level focus on building relationships and role clarity. The ability to authentically connect and communicate with their team is recognized as just as important as strong business abilities that achieve results. Psychological safety and transparency within the team culture increases. Increased leadership confidence, along with demonstrated compassionate leadership authority begin to take shape.


Leaders at Level 3, continue to incorporate Level 2 learning and skills. They have moved away from the traditional paradigm of authority and control. And they have adopted methods of agreement, alignment, and effective action. They are participating in this change with emotional endurance and resilience—and it is working. Growth is evident in all aspects of the team and the business. 

Their experiences and perspectives in the “people part” expand, which has a natural outcome of increased business success.This clears the way to value and interact with themself and others more authentically and effectively. Co-creation and safe exchange of ideas utilizes every person within the company. In turn, unique ACE Teamwork and the “business part” develops further. Meeting goals that achieve planned business outcomes becomes the expected result. The conscious desire to grow in self-leadership now has tangible evidence and undeniable value.

At Level 1 Leadership, leaders need to experience change within. It’s a big first step for leaders to rid themselves of feelings of victimization, where they feel loss of control and powerlessness.  Level 2 Leadership is a stage where leaders have recognized and begun to build the habit of self-leadership. During business challenges, they are well aware of when they are leading and influencing with their best thinking intact. They interact with others on their team with openness and curiosity, allowing for creative and innovative collaboration. 

The advanced skills of self-leadership of Level 3 are in place. This proactive business leadership empowers the ability to lead ahead of the curve in change. The confidence, consistency, trust and innovation at this stage of leadership is essential. Leaders feel the reward as they ride the waves. 

Adjusting to business trends, Level 3 Leaders inspire team performance. They capture the best opportunities for business success. 

MASTERY (Level 4)

To continue to master inner skills and outer capabilities is an ongoing goal at Mastery Level. Demonstrating Mindful Leadership for Increased understanding of the nature and essential qualities of a person and business leader at this level has personal and professional rewards.

Mastery Level of leadership is not a point of arrival, but rather an ongoing practice that brings tremendous value to every leader that endorses it.

As leaders journey further in personal and professional development, all areas of their performance have an expansive and positive impact. Striving to live out self-leadership with passion and purpose, and with intuition and balance, is empowering. 

This achieved leadership level accepts increased responsibility to model self-leadership. In this, leaders proactively influence and guide the team forward in teamwork and improved individual performance. They teach and influence others forward in their extraordinary, transformative journey to their own self-leadership excellence.     

Levels of Leadership Mastery - Leading Edge Teams

In closing, I want you to remember what brought you into business in the first place. Strong leadership training and abilities serve you, your passion and your purpose. 

Today, listen to your inner self. If needed, get some guidance and relief. Schedule a call where I can help you identify what’s needed to up-level your leadership potential.  

Barbara Schindler, Executive Coach, Entrepreneurial Consultant, COO

“With leadership development, define levels of responsibility and give leaders the authority needed, so they can meet the expectations of their job.”

Barbara is passionate about leaders and teams learning to be mindful and compassionate communicators in their company culture. Besides decades of diverse business experience, Barbara holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Behavior and Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Ryokan College, as well as a Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.   

Share this ARTICLE

Share your feedback on this topic below in the comments section.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog Search

Post by Author

Popular Posts

Systems and Processes Cartoon man on ladder adjusting gears - Leading Edge Teams

Systems & Processes

Systems and processes are tedious for some and an intriguing pursuit for others. I’m sure you know which category you fall into! Either way, people

Read More »
Scroll to Top