The Four Levels of High-Achieving Leaders

How organizations can promote growth in leadership through its different stages.

By Emmet Scott, DEO

To ensure long-term survival, organizations must identify managers and employees that can grow through different stages of leadership. It’s good to have benchmarks for executives and entrepreneurs as they try to develop their people because helping an amazing employee move to the next level is very rewarding.

The following are the four levels of high-achieving leaders, including what defines each stage, and how to level up managers and employees. 

The four levels are as follows: 

  • Reactive Star 
  • Superstar 
  • Galaxy 
  • Creator 

Reactive Star

Level one is the Reactive Star. This person can see a problem and fix it. That’s valuable because so many employees can’t see a problem that needs attention. 

These employees are of high value to the team and leaders. They execute the organization’s ideas. They are activity based. They distinguish themselves by taking care of the problems presented. 


Level two moves from reactive to proactive. Meet the Superstar. This person is also activity based and takes care of problems before they are asked to solve them. They can see around the corner. 

Their critical thinking skills allow them to spot a potential problem and fix it beforehand, and maybe even implement a system or process. If you can get your people to this level, you’re in a great position because you have just outpaced a large majority of the marketplace. Indeed, if more level-one employees recognized problems and corrected them like level-two employees, leaders’ lives would be simpler. 


Level three includes most leaders on the executive rung and those serving as the CEO. It is the Galaxy level where leaders stop focusing on themselves and see the priority at hand. They zoom out, recognize the opportunities and start to prioritize. That’s what distinguishes level three from level two. Galaxy level leaders aren’t frantically running around. Levels one and two are codependent and aren’t transformational leaders because their identities are strongly tied to the amount of activity they do, especially those proactive employees in level two.

When leaders first start a business, they really like employees at levels one and two because they work long hours and are nonstop. Sometimes I see CEOs who want their team members to move up and they’re frustrated that they’re not. But they forget that there was a time when they just wanted their team to work really hard on everything.

Level three is a big chasm to cross, because leaders begin to detach their identity from the activities and start to see the business as only one part of what they do, and not who they are. Yet many leaders are anxious about detaching themselves from their team members because they worry about the team’s activity dropping. 

Ultimately, results and effectiveness go up and that’s what drives profits. Leaders at level three need to think through where they are pushing people at levels one and two. Leaders can cause problems if they aren’t organized or asking the right questions of their team members.


Finally, level four is the Creator. At this point, a leader’s success is all about the team. Prioritization has been mastered and a leader understands what works and what doesn’t work. A new freedom of identity is born and it’s about developing and helping other people. 

These leaders become interested in getting everyone to be more effective and move away from activity-based thinking to results-based thinking. And those results come through clear prioritization. 

The Creator level can help levels one and two because those levels are activity-based and codependent. They can be overwhelming and very poor for employees’ mental health. 

The freedom of identity on level four allows a leader to think about and prioritize others. This is critical today because we’re talking so much about mental health in the workplace and personally. If we don’t prioritize it, we’ll have a lot of regrets, not just as an ineffective business but also in our personal lives. 

When leaders help others prioritize, their businesses and personal lives flourish. They detach from work and gain confidence as individuals. To do so, you must be strong enough to handle the humanity aspect of your business, and also emphatic enough to teach, coach and mentor your employees to the next level.