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The Five Levels of Leadership
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The Five Levels of Leadership


This article is an overview of Leadership expert John C. Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership presented in a way that is relevant to our struggle. The original definitions and dividing lines have been adjusted to fit with a revolutionary leadership framework, in areas where Maxwell’s is only suited to the Corporate and established political framework. 

This article also explains why it is critical that a Level 5 Leader be developed within our movement in order to advance our cause. For those who wish to use this article for personal development, I recommend reading through once, then one level at time reread the level and view the supporting material linked and embedded within the section. Please let me know if and how you found this to be helpful in the comments below.


As our movement to secure a country for White people slowly develops beyond the virtual and into the real world, new leaders will emerge and the problematic leaders of the past will be eclipsed. As our efforts yield small incremental victories, it is far from a profitable pursuit and there are no spoils to share after minor victories are achieved (unlike the aftermath of election campaigns and union negotiations). This makes creating sustainable groups with well-defined command and control very difficult. This means our future leadership cadre will find it difficult to gain professional quality experience within White Advocacy. It also means, and this isn’t news to anyone, that it is nearly impossible to develop

1) a unifying Vision that independent-minded individuals in the most intellectually diverse race on Earth are inspired by


2) a Grand Strategy that will act as a framework which disciplined cadre will work within even when they disagree with their leaders’ decisions.

Developing consensus around these higher level concepts, Vision and Grand Strategy, is necessary to move beyond the simplest types of Strategic Campaigns and avoid being tarnished with the blunders and counterproductive activities of those claiming to be part of Our Struggle.

We must look seriously for those qualified to lead on this level and understand what this level of leadership entails. This is not a search for the “providential man,” an idea of the first half of the 20th century which is best left in the past, because it is so alien to the paradigm of our time. It also means having the maturity to realize that the best leader is not the person screaming the loudest about being a leader, rather it is often a person who must be pushed forward by his supporters, as Cincinnatus was begged by emissaries of the Senate to leave his fields to assume Dictatorship of Rome.

With this in mind, I encourage readers to support all White Nationalist organizations which are not identified with a single Charismatic Leader, and foster the development of numerous Leaders of various kinds.

John C. Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership

John C. Maxwell is an author and speaker on the subject of Leadership and he developed a conceptual framework to assess the power of one’s Leadership in an organization. This is a good place to begin in understanding where Leaders are at in their own development along with the team around them.

Here is a brief overview of the 5 Levels and how it applies to Our Movement:

Level 1: Position Leadership

This is common in 9-5 jobs where no one is enthusiastic about his work. The only motivation is the concern with being fired, given worse tasks, being passed over for a raise, etc. People follow because they have to. While this exists in the Soros universe and in Conservatism Inc., it does not exist for us or for practically any national revolutionary movement. This is where nearly every corporate and government leader got started. The only way for anyone to get that first shot at leadership from our milieu which offers practical political or governing experience would be through practicing entryism with other groups who are well-funded and have better structures in place. Of course this level is also open to many through military service and corporate servitude.

Level 2: Permission

This is the level where friendship has developed and there is a desire to help. People are willing to go further to help the leader because they like him. Such leaders are better at relating to people than a Level 1 leader. The level of commitment here is still very weak. This is essentially where leadership begins for White Nationalists (which is a fairly weak foundation). Nonetheless, everyone can improve their abilities in this area. I have repeatedly advocated the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book is very valuable for anyone seeking to strengthen his Level 2 Leadership.

Additionally, there are two YouTube channels which would be of great help to anyone seeking to improve themselves in this area. The first is Charisma on Command, a channel dedicated specifically to analyzing and practicing the elements that make a charismatic personality. He also gives very good overviews of Leadership characteristic, strengths, and flaws. Considering that so many of the readers of Counter-Currents I have met have INTJ personality types along with high levels of idealism and strong personal codes of honor, his video on “Why the Starks will Always get Betrayed” might be a good place to start. The other highly educational channel is run by is Vanessa Van Edwards. Her work includes both advice on analyzing and practicing the habits of charisma as well as on reading people. Even as someone who is stronger in the “street smarts” department, I found her advice on the five mutually exclusive ways in which people express and expect gratitude especially helpful.

Charisma is a lot like sports prowess, there are those who are born gifted, but everyone, the gifted and the charismatically challenged alike, must study and practice in order to excel. Leadership and influence are practically interchangeable for John Maxwell. Developing empathy, learning how to align goals, and seeking small victories will keep the morale of the aspiring Leader strong enough to continue, will help keep their cell of cadre effective and united, and it will help the Leader create the opportunities to develop towards Level 3 Leadership.

Level 3: Production

Level 3 is all about leveraging past performance in order to gain participation with or without having a history of an established rapport. The relationships can be warmer and less transactional than Level 1, and the supporter is thinking collectively for the first time. To be precise, the supporter joins the struggle inspired by the bigger picture, but it is only with a Level 3 leader that he will put aside personal preferences for the agenda of someone else because the Level 3 Leader has a proven track record. The follower can be confident that before that leader begins to speak, any plan will be well thought out and put the goals of the institution/company/cause first over the personal preferences of the Leader and that those goals are achievable.

The turnaround CEO is the best example of a leader operating squarely within Level 3. We White Nationalists don’t have a major institution within which to seek people who have proven themselves. Instead we need Level 3 Leaders who have proven themselves in more professional environments (not difficult when compared to the institutions of White Nationalism) and whose skills are transferable to our efforts.

Turnaround CEOs have proven themselves in previous situations with other companies. They enter new companies as they are failing. Despite the downward spiral the workers and stakeholders in these companies find themselves in, they are usually resistant to the changes that are needed to survive. This dynamic can be found in practically any group of people facing failure, whether a business, a charity, a family, etc. The test of the Turnaround CEO is not simply knowing what to do or being capable of execution, he must also win the buy-in from most workers and stakeholders for the necessary changes to take place.

While the Turnaround CEO also exercises Level 1 Leadership (and usually begins his tenure by firing numerous senior executives), that is simply not enough to turn a company around. In fact, the majority of failing companies have already fallen back to being Level 1 organizations by the time a turnaround CEO shows up, because morale is very low and the valuable and ambitious employees are leaving. Turnaround CEOs cannot suddenly arrive in a low morale institution and through likeability, change the way things are done. That would be Level 2 leadership and that is not enough. Success depends on a critical mass of senior executives, middle managers, and workers buying into a new approach to doing their job and surrendering their ego-driven resistance. Despite the fact that the company is failing, most of the employees will see themselves as experts at their job and don’t want someone else telling them how to do their job.

To get a grasp of how this style of leadership works, I would recommend The Profit, a CNBC reality show which follows Marcus Limonis as he invests in failing companies based on their agreement to implement the changes he recommends. He uses the 3 Ps, People Product and Profit, to assess the companies’ problems. The first two seasons are probably the best to watch. It becomes clear that he can’t simply wave money around to get buy-in. Some of the current company owners can’t be led out of the hole they dug for themselves because of ego problems; their companies are doomed and Limonis failed to act as a Level 3 Leader in these episodes. In other episodes, he wins the confidence of the current owners who then develop a much more profitable company in the process.

So you can see, these levels are not like diplomas or licenses. No one performs on higher level one day and then recreates that dynamic in every future situation. For Level 3 Leadership to be effective, the objective fact of past success is not the key, it is the inspiration or lack thereof created by that track record which is the key. As we White Nationalists know, most people’s beliefs and attitudes have nothing to do with the objective facts. Leadership, despite what the heroic oil paintings of the 19th century might imply, is not an individual phenomenon but rather it is a group phenomenon.

Level 4: People

This level is also known as the Reproduction Level. There are two major features at this level – providing services to base level supporters and building up new leaders. Without reaching Level 4 Leadership, there is no legacy for the leader and the institution left behind is built on a house of sand. When a successful CEO passes away in office and the company’s stock price falls, it is because not knowing yet whether he was a Level 3 or Level 4 Leader, the market is assuming the former.

A great leader will eventually lift up his lieutenants along these same Levels mentioned above. A Level 4 Leader still gives orders and sets policy, but he now coaches his lieutenants. Remember that the Levels are essentially kinds of relationships between leaders and supporters. In a large complex organization, a Leader can reach Level 4 with many individuals at various levels of the organization; however, some members of the organization will still only act out of fear of being fired, meaning the Leader is still only leading at the 1st Level with that person. There will also be supporters at the intermediary levels with the leader. When the relationship between leader and follower is first driven by loyalty, Level 4 has been reached. This is stronger than the bonds built by likeability or respect. The majority of supporters of Level 4 Leaders will not assume leadership positions themselves. Their relationship to a Level 4 Leader is stronger than any of the previous relations described because they perceive that they have personally benefitted from this person.

The best measure of Level 4 Leadership for a political or religious organization comes with the death or departure of the founder. By that measure, very few White Nationalist and New Right leaders of the past achieved this level. The National Alliance and The National Renaissance Party in the US, the BNP in the UK, are just a few of the organizations in our milieu that exploded after the death or departure of their key founding leaders.[1]

When Bruno Megret led the departure of numerous mid-level leaders in the Front National (FN), in order to form the Mouvement National Républicain (MNR), it was because they were protesting Jean-Marie Le Pen’s refusal to allow the FN and himself to rise to be a Level 4 Organization and Leader respectively. I am no expert in the pre-baby boomer leadership in the American White Nationalist scene, but the view from afar is that both Revilo Oliver and Willis Carto were capable of Level 4 Leadership, sometimes despite themselves. Willis Carto, who passed away last year, was going strong into his 80s. He is an excellent example of effective “administrative leadership” as opposed to “charismatic leadership.” I believe that Willis Carto’s Level 4 Leadership accomplishment will be borne out in the future survival of the Barnes Review and the American Free Press.

To depart from the Rated PG, Republican-Evangelical world of John Maxwell, the image conjured of a Level 4 Leader, for me, is that of a Big City Political Boss. The role of the political boss is described in “Fascism: American Style.”

To get a sense of the costs of Leadership (and the higher one wishes to rise the greater the sacrifice) and the personality of such a leader, Harold Washington’s assessment of Richard Daley is quite interesting.

Mayor Daley and other Machine Bosses are not perfect Level 4 Leaders because they do not want to coach their supporters up to their same level, but rather they want to keep a hold on their position, usually until they die with their boots on or pass on the position to a son. Despite often relying on strongarm tactics with the upper tiers of political leadership in their cities, they must serve more than their rule to keep their power. Daley was certainly not a Level 5 Leader. If White Ethnic Machine politics comes back in force, or even if a third generation Daley runs for Mayor, the supporters will not be marching down the streets bearing photos of the original Mayor Daley. So what makes a Level 5 Leader?

Level 5: Personhood

It could be called legendary leadership as it is very memorable and is incredibly rare. This is the kind of leader whose persona merges with his life’s work. This kind of leader transcends the personal. The fifth level is quite interesting to me because of its importance in creating a revolutionary movement. My bar for Level 5 Leadership is higher than it is for John Maxwell, so this following is not an accurate description of his thoughts on the topic. But he would agree that the evidence for Level 5 Leadership is in the acts of the supporters and not the charisma of the leader.

There is no shortage of false positives throughout history. There are many charismatic leaders across the entire political spectrum who have tricked millions of followers. Looking at the simplest definition, they are indeed Level 5 Leaders because “people follow them because of who they are and what they represent.” Maxwell obliquely responds to this conundrum by saying that one cannot be a Level 5 Leader without mastering other Levels.

A true Level 5 Leader according to Jim Collins in the Harvard Business Review is notable for his “extreme personal humility blend[ing] paradoxically with intense personal will.” When digging deeper into the attributes of Level 5 Leaders he finds this condensed list:

  1. They are self-confident enough to set up their successors for success.
  2. They are humble and modest.
  3. They have “unwavering resolve.”
  4. They display a “workmanlike diligence — more plow horse than show horse.”
  5. They give credit to others for their success and take full responsibility for poor results. They “attribute much of their success to ‘good luck’ rather than personal greatness.”

Level 5 Leadership can be confirmed in the most dramatic events. Such an event occurred two years ago in Iraq. ISIS had conquered Mosul, taken Fallujah with relative ease thanks to their many sympathizers. After years of silence and self-imposed house arrest (following years of house arrest imposed by Saddam Hussein), Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa asking the Shi’a to join militias to stop ISIS and protect an Iraq in which Sunni and Shi’a may live together in peace. Over 30,000 men joined the militias in a single weekend. By comparison, the more junior cleric Muqtada al-Sadr spent two years to recruit somewhere between 10,000 and 60,000 Shi’a forces during the Civil War. Sistani has been biding his time, reinforcing the religious devotion and identity of his followers while remaining mostly silent on political affairs.

The first five minutes of this Journeyman Pictures documentary which was made during the sectarian civil war in Iraq gives a good synopsis of Sistani’s role in the Shi’a community and his leadership style.

In the aftermath of the Sistani fatwa against ISIS, he also requested that foreign Shi’a not come to Iraq to join the fight. Later on, he also stated that those who die defending President Assad of Syria are not Martyrs. Here is a Shi’a cleric in Canada discussing Sistani and his fatwa. It is as if the speaker had reverse engineered the attributes of Level 5 Leaders above to describe Sistani. The first four minutes are sufficient to get the point.

Sistani, whether he would use this term or not, has developed a Grand Strategy for his followers through this fatwa and its subsequent clarifications. A Grand Strategy is a framework within which all actions in a struggle may take place. This is after years of providing a unifying Vision and providing a living demonstration of his values. When it comes to large movements, it is no less than the Level 5 Leaders who are capable of propagating Vision and Grand Strategy.

The Importance of Vision and Grand Strategy for Movement Building

In part three of my series on “The Color Revolution Cookbook,” there is a description of Vision, Grand Strategy, Goals, Strategic Campaigns, Objectives, and Tactics. In my own activism within White Nationalism and for other causes, I have set strategy and tactics for activist groups. I do not however have the qualifications to set a Vision or a Grand Strategy, and I believe we are in urgent need of developing these. The qualifications, like leadership, do not depend on a priori thought. One is only qualified for this if there are inspired and disciplined supporters ready to work hard and sacrifice (even if just a little) for years on end to bring the Vision forth. I would not wish to compare myself to Charles Maurras, but even Charles Maurras could not become Head of State in France after it surrendered to the 3rd Reich. Rather it was Marshall Petain. Petain was not involved in the granular aspects of governing, nor was he an intellectual architect of National Revolution, like Maurras was. Petain set the Vision and Grand Strategy. His gravitas, heroism, and service were the foundation for inspiration that drove his subordinates and undergirded the legitimacy of his rule.

It is up to those of us who understand this need to seek the right person for the job, give support, and encourage others to also give their support. Since there are no Level 5 Leaders within our movement, we can begin this search by looking for someone who has mastered Levels 2, 3, and 4.

Let’s face some hard facts about potential leaders. There is no active or retired General, or any other senior officer, who publicly advocates for racial nationalism in North America. There is no Pope, no Bishop (in the SSPX or anywhere else), no Patriarch within any of the Orthodox faiths, and no guru who has serious leadership experience, mental stability, physical courage, or more than a dozen supporters and who openly supports racial nationalism.

The Charles Maurras of our time in the US have shown physical courage and commitment, and we must all give them support and gratitude and encourage them to continue in their work. That means donating to keep Counter-Currents (donate here) running as well as the handful of other active groups and individuals who give breathing room necessary for future Leaders and their future Lieutenants to develop their skills. Those charismatic men who hold themselves forth as the self-proclaimed “Providential Man” and don’t provide room for their followers to develop ought to be denounced and ignored. That is a necessary step before we can push our own Petain or Sistani to the forefront and provide the kind of Leadership, Vision, and Grand Strategy that we are sorely lacking.


1. Nick Griffin was not the founding leader, but he was the leading personality who most strongly shaped the organization.


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