Leadership Development: 5 Levels of Leadership Mastery

By Igshaan Soules

Leadership Development: 5 Levels of Leadership Mastery
Courtesy of Izzard

If you are a manager or business owner, the key to your success and long term fulfillment is Mastery. To be effective as a manager and achieve true success and fulfillment, your leadership development efforts must incorporate five levels of leadership mastery.

We live in a world that changes constantly, appears ambiguous, behaves in a volatile manner and generates tremendous uncertainty. In this world, how do you balance your time, your energy, your relationships, and your financial world in a way that leads to success in work and life?

The answer, mastery.

There are several elements over which you need to gain mastery. Each is a building block for achieving mastery of the next. And, as you accomplish your goals, doubling back to earlier building blocks will help you achieve an even greater level of understanding and mastery and make you an effective manager.

1. Performance Mastery

Foundational to your success is your ability to perform. In your business or organization you have targets to achieve and goals to accomplish. When you commit to learning as much as you can about your area of responsibility and your business, and apply this learning to achieve higher levels of performance, you will have mastered the art of performance.

You can then leverage this increased performance to achieve more in a shorter period of time with increasingly less effort.

2. Personal Mastery

Personal mastery is knowing yourself, understanding your needs and interests, knowing your strengths and limitations and the ability to hone your innate talents and qualities. You achieve personal mastery when you are able to apply all this information to manage and excel in your personal, social, and professional life.

A thorough understanding of what makes you tick is a game changer. It brings about a shift in mindset that moves you from being satisfied with performing well to holding excellence as your standard of performance.

3. Relationship Mastery

Developing effective person-to-person relationships is important for achieving shared goals and objectives at work and in life. Your ability to deliver results through effective relationships with direct and indirect reports, colleagues your manager, business partners and even customers, is what will distinguishes you from your peers.

While focusing on the accomplishment of tasks are important, balancing this with a good dose of relationship is key to creating alignment and a shared commitment to goals and objectives.

The ability to create a healthy balance between task and relationship is what separates good managers from exceptional leaders.

4. Organizational Systems Mastery

Organizations are highly-complex systems. Effective management demands organizational savvy – the ability to understand, identify with and collaborate with groups, teams, communities and other social systems. When you have mastered the ability to work with systems, you are able to leverage the capacity of teams and groups to move beyond the personal to a more powerfully generative group and organizational identity.

5. Social Impact Mastery

While most leadership development activities focus on performance and personal mastery. Few venture into relationship and organisational systems mastery and even fewer into social impact mastery. Social impact mastery is when a leader intentionally reflects on and define how his or her individual purpose as a leader can find expression in the world beyond the workplace.

This is often referred to as cause driven leadership.

To quote a colleague and mentor, Gary Ryan Blair, “Nothing of any lasting value was ever created by someone who was reasonable. It is the unreasonable people, those discontented with the status quo, the dreamers and visionaries who nevertheless have their feet planted firmly on solid ground who improve people’s lives and advance society. Live an unreasonable life!”


I see achieving mastery as a lifelong quest. We are never done. However, in our quest to achieve fulfillment and success, our development as leaders is dependent on how well we journey along these five levels of leadership mastery.

[box]Igshaan Soules helps great managers and leaders achieve mastery. To learn more about his leadership mastery program for emerging and high potentials, contact him now on 083 6330999.[/box]

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