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Midshipman Matthew Miller Shares Lessons on Leadership

KINGS POINT, N.Y., February 13, 2017 – On Monday February 6th, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) faculty and staff filled the Crabtree Room to attend a presentation and discussion on John C. Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership, facilitated by MIDN LCDR Matthew Miller, 1/C.  

Miller who has plenty of leadership experience as Regimental Honor Board Chairman, President KP Investment Club, and USMMA’s Men’s Basketball Team Captain, explained, “my focus this year has been becoming a better midshipman leader and future leader in the maritime industry. Often, to improve, we must stop, reflect, and assess our current strengths and weaknesses. While searching for presentations on leadership, I found John C. Maxwell’s The Five Levels of Leadership. Maxwell’s message resonated with me. Due to the applicability for all midshipmen, during an Honor Board meeting, I decided to share a summary with the Honor Board staff and Petty Officers.  Dr. Lori Townsend, who is the Director of Institutional Assessment, attended this meeting, and asked if I would be willing to present John Maxwell’s message and facilitate a discussion with the faculty and staff. I felt honored and believed the message contained in John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership is essential to effective leadership and creating a successful organization.”

LT Stephen McDade, USMMA Tactical Officer and Honor Board Advisor, said, “MIDN Miller has led from the front for as long as I have known him, he leads by example and is always reflecting on how to become a more well-rounded individual.  He inspires his classmates, the regiment, my staff as well as the whole USMMA community.  Bravo Zulu to MIDN Miller.”

John C. Maxwell is a New York Times bestselling author and dynamic speaker. Companies around the world hire him to speak on leadership. Miller summarized Maxwell’s thoughts, stating, “He breaks down leadership into five different levels:

Level 1 (Positional Level) – At this level, Maxwell says that people follow you because they have to, not because they want to. As a result, you get the minimum energy, effort, and time out of people. Far too often, leaders are positional in their thinking. Positional leaders say, ‘I am the boss, you will listen to me.’ 

Level 2 (Permission Level): A leader can move up from the positional level by connecting with their subordinates and taking a vested interest in their life and success. Great leaders listen, observe, and are always learning. They have an attitude of servanthood.  Knowing your followers and caring about them creates a mutual level of trust and respect that is essential for a productive work environment.

Level 3 (Production Level) - Maxwell states that this is where leaders start being efficient and create momentum as an organization. Leaders set and maintain standards first for themselves, then for others. Leaders should not be travel agents--sending people where they haven’t been or are not willing to go themselves. Highly effective leaders recruit great people. However, we attract people like ourselves. Therefore, as a leader, we must first embody the traits we want in subordinates.

Level 4 (People Development Level) - Great leaders understand that people are an organization's most valuable asset. They recruit, position, and equip. The famous football coach Lou Holtz said, ‘I am a better coach with great players.’ The first step is to recruit great people. Secondly, effective leaders know their people and position them to succeed.  Despite how talented an individual is, if they are in the wrong position, they will never reach their full potential.

Level 5 (Pinnacle Level) - Few leaders or organizations ever reach the pinnacle level. At this level, people follow because of who you are as a person and what you represent. The leader has earned the utmost respect, and subordinates wholly trust a leader’s vision and goals for the organization.”

Miller believes, “Understanding Maxwell’s five levels of leadership and reflecting on where we individually stand is vital to improving as a leader and as an organization. We are on different levels with each subordinate, colleague, and peer. We must seek to understand what level we are on with each person. This will enable us to better convey information and motivate individuals toward achieving USMMA’s mission,  ‘Educating and graduating leaders of exemplary character….’”

Updated: Monday, February 13, 2017
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