The Four Stages Of Leadership Effectiveness

Leadership is an on-going, constantly changing process.  Here is one way to define that process. 

By Brent Filson - 12/2012

“Leadership” is not a noun, it’s a verb.  It's not a static state, it’s a dynamic process that involves a flow of activities.  When you can give structure and direction to that flow, you’re a better leader.  Here is one such guide that may help you now and for the rest of your career.

1) Unconscious incompetence.
You don’t know you’re leading badly.  You’re suffering from the worst kind of lack of knowledge: You don’t know that you don’t know.

2) Conscious incompetence.
You realize you are leading badly.  You realize you must change your leadership behavior to become a better leader.  You take action.  That action is seldom successful.  You struggle to master what you clearly see must be mastered.

3) Conscious competence.
Through trial and error, through learning from and overcoming your mistakes, you gradually improve your leadership skills.  You know what you’re doing.  You know how to improve, and you are conscious of continually improving.

4) Unconscious competence.  Unconscious competence is most vividly exemplified in the sports worlds.  Think of any sport and you’ll realize it is primarily performed on an unconscious level.  That unconscious, skillful performance is the result of long training in the mastery of the right skills.

So it is with leadership.  When you’ve put in the long, hard work to develop your leadership skills, they become most effective when you are not conscious of applying them.

You are never at one or another stage exclusively.  You’re always moving through all stages, sometimes learning new skills, sometimes applying skills you’ve mastered.


12/2012© The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – Celebrating 25 years of helping leaders of top companies worldwide achieve outstanding results every day. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get his FREE report "7 Steps To Leadership Mastery"