The Three Levels of Leadership

The Three Levels of Leadership

The Three Levels Of Leadership model is a tool for developing leadership presence, awareness, and skills. This model, developed in 2011 by James Scouller, author and professional leadership coach, summarizes what leaders must do in order to bring leadership to their group, and develop themselves technically and psychologically as leaders. 


The Three Levels of Leadership are: Public, Private and Personal  

Scouller recommends that effective leaders develop their skills on all three levels simultaneously


Public and Private Leadership: The “outer” behavioural levels, refer to influencing two or more people simultaneously. 

In these levels, the leader must address the “four dimensions of leadership” through their behaviour. 


The Four Dimensions of Leadership:

1.  A shared, motivating group purpose or vision.

2.  Action, progress, and results. 

3.  Collective unity or team spirit. 

4.  Individual selection and motivation. 


Personal Leadership: The “inner” behavioural level, refers to a person’s leadership presence, knowhow, skills, beliefs, emotions and unconscious habits. Most importantly, Personal Leadership concerns the leader’s self-awareness, their progress toward self-mastery and technical competence, and their sense of connection with those around them. “Personal Leadership is the inner core, the source of a leader’s outer leadership effectiveness” (Scouller, 2011)

At this inner level, there are three aspects of what leaders should do in order to grow their leadership presence, knowhow and skill:

1. Developing one’s technical knowhow and skill

2.  Cultivating the right attitude toward other people. 

3.  Working on psychological self-mastery


Personal Leadership is the most powerful of the three levels. According to Scouller, the effect of Personal Leadership is similar to dropping a pebble in a pond and seeing the ripples spread out from the center. 

 “The pebble represents inner, personal leadership and the ripples the two outer levels. Helpful inner change and growth will affect outer leadership positively. Negative inner change will cause the opposite.” (Scouller, 2011).







Scouller, J. (2011). The Three Levels of Leadership: How to Develop Your Leadership Presence, Knowhow and Skill. Cirencester: Management Books 2000., ISBN 9781852526818