Level 5 Leadership

Jim Collins, author of “From Good to Great” (a great read in and of itself, mind you), created a concept he called “Level 5” leadership.  In 1996, his research began on what separates good from great in terms of companies and leadership.  He started with over a thousand companies and narrowed it down to 11.  In doing so, he also came up with the concept of “Level 5 Leaders” and defined the leaders of these 11 companies accordingly.

There are not many Level 5 leaders, but if you can attain this level of leadership, your employees will find that your company is generally great to work for.  The levels are defined as such:

Level 1: Highly Capable Individual

At this level, you contribute a great deal — with your job and your personal action. You have talent and skills, but aren’t necessarily leading yet.

Level 2: Contributing Team Member

Your knowledge (level 1) is used to contribute to your team and making sure that everyone succeeds.  You’re proactive, you’re effective and you raise the productivity of those in your group.

Level 3: Competent Manager

You can organize a group and achieve goals.  At this level, you’re still able to succeed and bring value to the organization.  Many people fall in this category.

Level 4: Effective Leader

This is where the pack begins to fall away. Many of the top leaders fall into this category — able to bring together a department or organization to achieve a vision and drive towards (or exceed) performance objectives across the board.

Level 5: Great Leader

If you’re able to achieve this pinnacle of leadership, you have all 4 other leadership levels AND the unique trait where you can pull humility and will together to succeed as a great leader.

It is possible to learn, train, and grow to any of these levels.  It takes significant effort and certain work to get there. In order to attain this, you need to:

  • develop humility — you’re not perfect. Stop being so arrogant.
  • ask for help — use the expertise of those around you to strengthen your execution.
  • take responsibility – you’re the leader. If something goes wrong, it’s up to you. No excuses and definitely don’t throw your team under the bus.
  • be disciplined – commit to a course and execute on it. Listen to opinions, but don’t let fear drive your decisions or force you into  changes that you’re not sure about.
  • find the right people – you CAN’T succeed on your own. It’s simply not possible.  Surround yourself by the best.
  • believe – be passionate about what you do. Show that you love and believe in what you’re doing. This leads by example for your team.

All in all, it’s possible to truly elevate your skills … focus on this list and  even if you never hit the top, your team will still love you all the more for it.

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