three levels of leadership model


  • Criticism One criticism of the Three Levels of Leadership model has been that it may be difficult for some leaders to use it as a guide to self-development without the assistance
    of a professional coach or psychotherapist at some point as many of its ideas around self-mastery are deeply psychological.

  • Scouller argued that self-mastery is the key to growing one’s leadership presence, building trusting relationships with followers and enabling behavioral flexibility as circumstances
    change, while staying connected to one’s core values (that is, while remaining authentic).

  • He also described the six sets of skills that underlie the public and private leadership behaviors: (1) group problem-solving and planning; (2) group decision-making; (3)
    interpersonal ability, which has a strong overlap with emotional intelligence (4) managing group process; (5) assertiveness; (6) goal-setting.

  • Although there is a moral aspect to this, there is also a practical side – for a leader’s attitude and behavior toward others will largely influence how much they respect
    and trust that person and want to work with him or her.

  • Scouller also suggested that each person’s authentic presence is unique and outlined seven qualities of presence: (1) personal power – command over one’s thoughts, feelings
    and actions; (2) high, real self-esteem; (3) the drive to be more, to learn, to grow; (4) a balance of an energetic sense of purpose with a concern for the service of others and respect for their free will; (5) intuition; (6) being in the
    now; (7) inner peace of mind and a sense of fulfillment.

  • According to the Three Levels of Leadership model, the key to widening one’s repertoire of public leadership behaviors (and the skill with which they are performed) is attention
    to personal leadership.

  • Although leadership involves creating a sense of group unity, groups are composed of individuals and they vary in their ambitions, confidence, experience and psychological

  • Scouller distinguished between the behaviors involved in influencing two or more people simultaneously (what he called “public leadership”) from the behavior needed to select
    and influence individuals one to one (which he called private leadership).

  • • Functional theories: Widely used approaches like Kouzes & Posner’s Five Leadership Practices model and Adair’s Action-Centered Leadership theory assume that once the leader
    understands – and has been trained in – the required leadership behaviors, he or she will apply them as needed, regardless of their personality.

  • • Leadership presence: The best leaders usually have something beyond their behavior – something distinctive that commands attention, wins people’s trust and enables them
    to lead successfully, which is often called “leadership presence” (Scouller, 2011).

  • Public leadership[edit] Public leadership refers to the actions or behaviors that leaders take to influence two or more people simultaneously – perhaps in a meeting or when
    addressing a large group.

  • Public leadership is directed towards (1) setting and agreeing a motivating vision or future for the group or organization to ensure unity of purpose; (2) creating positive
    peer pressure towards shared, high performance standards and an atmosphere of trust and team spirit; and (3) driving successful collective action and results.

  • This is why personal leadership is so important in improving a leader’s one-to-one skill and reducing his or her interpersonal fears.

  • Scouller argued that the intimacy of private leadership leads to avoidance behavior either because of a lack of skill or because of negative self-image beliefs that give rise
    to powerful fears of what may happen in such encounters.

  • It emphasizes self-awareness and flexible command of one’s mind, which allows the leader to let go of previously unconscious limiting beliefs and their associated defensive
    habits (like avoiding powerful conversations, e.g.

  • The second element, Attitude Toward Others, is about developing the right attitude toward colleagues in order to maintain the leader’s relationships throughout the group’s
    journey to its shared vision or goal.

  • Leaders need to balance their time between the 22 vision/planning/thinking/execution behaviors and the 12 group building/maintenance behaviors.

  • Shared leadership means that more people are involved in the group’s big decisions and this promotes joint accountability which, as Katzenbach & Smith found in their research,
    is a distinct feature of high-performance teams.

  • [2] Limitations of older leadership theories In reviewing the older leadership theories, Scouller highlighted certain limitations in relation to the development of a leader’s
    skill and effectiveness:[3] • Trait theory: As Stogdill (1948)[4] and Buchanan & Huczynski (1997) had previously pointed out, this approach has failed to develop a universally agreed list of leadership qualities and “successful leaders seem
    to defy classification from the traits perspective”.

  • They suggested that the ideal is the “team style”, which balances concern for the task with concern for people.

  • Hersey & Blanchard’s situational leadership theory, House’s path–goal theory, Tannenbaum & Schmidt’s leadership continuum) assume that leaders can change their behavior at
    will to meet differing circumstances, when in practice many find it hard to do so even after training because of unconscious fixed beliefs, fears or ingrained habits.

  • The four dimensions being: (1) a shared, motivating group purpose or vision (2) action, progress and results (3) collective unity or team spirit (4) attention to individuals.

  • So in proposing self-mastery and cultivation of the right attitude toward others as a method of developing leadership presence, his model offers a “how to” counterpart to
    the ideas of “authentic leadership” and servant leadership.

  • Scouller suggested that it takes more than the right knowhow, skills and behaviors to lead well – that it also demands “presence”.

  • [5] Moreover, because traits theory gave rise to the idea that leaders are born not made, Scouller (2011) argued that its approach is better suited to selecting leaders than
    developing them.

  • The idea is that if leaders want to be effective they must work on all three levels in parallel.

  • Private leadership[edit] Private leadership concerns the leader’s one-to-one handling of individuals (which is the fourth of Scouller’s four dimensions of leadership).

  • Scouller went further in suggesting (in the preface of his book, The Three Levels of Leadership), that personal leadership is the answer to what Jim Collins called “the inner
    development of a person to level 5 leadership” in the book Good to Great – something that Collins admitted he was unable to explain.

  • • The leader works on self-mastery to reduce self-esteem issues that make it hard to connect with, appreciate and adopt an attitude of service towards colleagues.

  • The two keys, he suggested, to developing these five aspects are to ensure that: • There is a demanding, distinctive, shared vision that everyone in the group cares about
    and wants to achieve.

  • It does not reject the possibility of an impressive heroic leader, but it promotes the idea that this is only one way of leading (and, indeed, following) and that shared leadership
    is more realistic.

  • The two outer levels – public and private leadership – are what the leader must do behaviorally with individuals or groups to address the “four dimensions of leadership” (Scouller

  • This view stems from Scouller’s position that leadership is a process, “a series of choices and actions around defining and achieving a goal”.

  • Personal leadership[edit] Personal leadership addresses the leader’s technical, psychological and moral development and its impact on his or her leadership presence, skill
    and behavior.

  • The sheer number of different behaviors required of leaders means they are unlikely to be equally proficient at all of them, so it is sensible for them to draw on their colleagues’
    strengths (that is, to allow them to lead at times).

  • However, that “something” – that presence – varies from person to person and research has shown it is hard to define in terms of common personality characteristics, so the
    traits approach failed to capture the elusive phenomenon of presence.

  • Scouller argued that leaders can be charismatic by relying on a job title, fame, skillful acting or by the projection of an aura of “specialness” by followers – whereas presence
    is something deeper, more authentic, more fundamental and more powerful and does not depend on social status.

  • Link with authentic leadership and servant leadership True leadership presence is, as Scouller defines it, synonymous with authenticity (being genuine and expressing one’s
    highest values) and an attitude of service towards those being led.

  • Leadership presence The importance and development of leadership presence is a central feature of the Three Levels of Leadership model.

  • The other leading leadership theories do not address the nature and development of presence.


Works Cited

[‘1. Scouller, J. (2011). The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Knowhow and Skill. Cirencester: Management Books 2000., ISBN 9781852526818
2. ^ “Businessballs information website: Leadership Theories Page, Integrated
Psychological Approach section. At the end of the Integrated Psychological section it comments on the connection between the Three Levels model, authentic leadership and servant leadership”. 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
3. ^
Scouller, J. (2011), pp. 34–35. Also see the “Businessballs information website: Integrated Psychological Leadership Models, Scouller’s Integrated Approach section, “Analysis of Traditional Models of Leadership – Strengths and Weaknesses””.
2012-02-24. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
4. ^ Stogdill, R.M. (1948). Personal Factors Associated with Leadership: a Survey of the Literature. Journal of Psychology, Vol. 25.
5. ^ Buchanan, D. & Huczynski, A. (1997). Organizational Behaviour (third edition),
p.601. London: Prentice Hall.
6. ^ “Businessballs information website: Leadership Theories Page, Integrated Psychological Approach section – see “Scouller’s 3P integration/extension of existing leadership models” table”. 2012-02-24.
Retrieved 2012-08-03.
7. ^ Scouller, J. (2011), pp. 137-237.
8. ^ Collins, J. (2001) pp. 37-38. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t. New York. HarperCollins. ISBN 0712676090
9. ^ Scouller, J. (2011), p.47.
10. ^
Scouller, J. (2011), pp. 67-75.
11. ^ Scouller, J. (2011), p.26.
12. ^ Katzenbach, J. & Smith, D. (1993). The Wisdom of Teams. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0875843670
13. ^ Rob MacLachlan (2011-08-30). “Review in People Management magazine
by Rob MacLachlan, 30 August 2011”. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
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