The 7 Levels of Effective Management Development

management development words imageA successful Management Development programme not only increases performance from staff and managers but ensures there is a robust succession plan in place for the business to continue to grow.

Time and again, most notably in a sales environment, high performing employees are promoted to a management position, based on performance in their previous role. Unfortunately, in many cases this approach is intrinsically flawed, and rather than create a succession plan that will take the business forward in the long term, it creates a rocky road with a lack of staff engagement and a management structure not equipped with the necessary tools to effectively engage their teams.

There is often a lack of understanding, throughout an organisation, of the skill and value transitions employees need to make as they move up to different levels of leadership. During the first stages of development, good individual contributors progress from being managed (doing only what they are told to do), to self-management (engaging their brains to get the job done). And this self-management level may be exactly where some people are best suited.


A good management development programme recognises that some personalities are not suited to leadership and creates a path where these people can continue to grow their earnings, and still increase their value to the business. At the same time, the programme needs to progress those who demonstrate evidence of management capabilities, and ensure they have the knowledge and skills to handle a particular level of leadership.


In our experience there are 7 levels of management that need to be focused on, and employees need to be equipped with the skills to function effectively at each appropriate level.

Level 1 – Self Management: For individuals who need to rely on their own personal influence, drive and motivation to achieve results. Areas that the development should address are communication and influencing skills, time management, team collaboration and specialisms relevant to particular roles.

Level 2 – Managing Others: For managers who need to value making others productive, more than they value their own individual contributions.  Development should address areas such as management fundamentals, tactical planning, performance management, job design and recruitment skills.

Level 3 – Managing Managers:  For more senior managers responsible for selecting and developing the people who will eventually become the organisation’s leaders. Development should address areas including talent management, advanced team dynamics, strategic analysis, leading change and setting performance criteria.

Level 4 – Managing a Function: For senior managers who need to be productivity focused whilst also being involved in strategy. Development areas may include performance & reward, cross functional collaboration, staff engagement, networking, developing strategic alignment and functional diversity awareness.

Level 5 – Leadership Autonomy:  For business managers with responsibility for both costs and revenue, who need to break away from functional thinking to focus on strategy.  Areas to develop include corporate governance, business portfolio management, management of primary stakeholders, senior team management and managing complexity.

Level 6 – Holistic Leadership:  For senior executives managing a group of businesses. These leaders need to balance the competing demands of a host of stakeholders including communities, industries, governments and the stock market. The diverse and complex skills of this group of executives should be addressed through bespoke executive coaching programmes.

Level 7 – Visionary Leadership: For Enterprise Managers who need to deliver consistent, predictable top and bottom line results and spend the majority of their time on external relationships. The skills and values of this group should also be developed through one-to-one executive coaching.


By ensuring that each member of staff is equipped with the skills and values relevant to their level of management, and continuing to grow them for their subsequent level, the succession planning looks after itself. This 7 level approach ensures a cohesive group of staff and managers who are able to effectively translate business strategy into action, and ultimately results, for generations to come.

Read on for more of our wisdom on Leadership Development Programmes