Level 5 Leadership
We have always associated leadership with a very visible and popular role which gives you recognition and a larger than life status as a leader however the level 5 leadership proposes quite opposing characteristics of a successful leader.
Jim Collins and his research team were exploring the factors that made good companies great way back in the 1960s. It was then that they stumbled upon the Level 5 leaders who were invariably at the helm of affairs of all the companies which went on to become great in their respective fields.
Who exactly is a Level 5 leader? Collins describes Level 5 leader as Humility + Will = Level 5. They are the nurturing leaders who do not want credit but want success to sustain over a longer period of time, long after they are gone.
Level 5 leaders are modest, shy and fearless and possess the capability to transform an organization from good to great without portraying themselves as wizards with magic wands. They prefer talking about the company and the contribution of other people but rarely about their role or achievements. Let us have a look at the hierarchical level of leadership identified:
The Level 5 leadership clearly reestablishes the facts about a simply living and high thinking with an emphasis on personal humility taught by the older generations. The financial breakthroughs achieved by level 5 leaders prove that these characteristics can achieve tangible results as well.
The most important example in this context can be cited of great world leaders like M.K. Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, who always put their vision ahead of their egos. They came across as shy and defenseless people in their mannerism and speech but were hardly so when it came to actions.
The other example from the business leaders who fitted perfectly into this category was Darwin E Smith who was the CEO of the paper company Kimberly-Clark and turned it around to become the biggest consumer paper product company. He was a unique mix of personal humility and will; combined with risk taking ability which made him a role model for the business leaders of today.
There are certain actions performed by Level 5 leaders which separate them from the rest of the leaders and senior executives.
With the new concept of Level 5 leadership we come back to an age old question, can Level 5 leadership be learnt?, if yes then how.
According to Collins it is farfetched to suitably see whether it can be learnt or not but he surely identifies two categories of people, one who have the Level 5 Leadership in them, dormant, latent or unexpressed and others who do not have it.
So leaders who cannot look beyond their personal role, fame, achievements etc can hardly become Level 5 leaders. Only when they can put the larger good ahead of them, they transcend to the next level. This transition is not general but can be brought by some tragic accident, near death experiences or a life changing incident, as came across by Collins in his research.
It would be appropriate to mention the name of M.K. Gandhi to understand it better. For Gandhi who had lived a comfortable life with a law degree from England had no experience of being oppressed by the ruling class until he was thrown out of a train despite carrying a first class ticket. His transition began from there, which later made him actively participate in the Indian Freedom Struggle.
Level 5 leadership is difficult to find and leaders who display it are a cut above the rest.
- Leadership Strategy
- Leadership Styles
- Personal Leadership Brand
- Situational Leadership
- Situational Leadership and Motivation
Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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