Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline. —Jim Collins

What does Great Leadership Look Like?



Chapter 2: Level 5 Leadership

In this chapter, Collins begins the process of identifying and explaining the unique factors and variables that differentiate good and great companies. One of the most significant differences, he asserts, is the quality and nature of leadership in these ‘great’ companies. Collins goes on to identify "Level 5 leadership" as a common characteristic of the great companies assessed in the study. This type of leadership forms the top level of a 5-level hierarchy that ranges from merely competent supervision to strategic executive decision-making.

By further studying the behaviors and attitudes of Level 5 leaders, Collins found that many of those classified in this group displayed an unusual mix of intense determination and profound humility. These leaders often have a long-term personal sense of investment in the company and its success, often cultivated through a career-spanning climb up the company’s ranks. The personal ego and individual financial gain are not as important as the long-term benefit of the team and the company to true Level 5 leaders. As such, Collins asserts that the much-touted trend of bringing in a celebrity CEO to turn around a flailing firm is usually not conducive to fostering the transition from Good to Great.




Five Levels of Leadership
Level 5: Executive Leader:Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will
Level 4: Effective Leader:Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, while stimulating higher performance standards
Level 3: Competent Manager:Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives
Level 2: Contributing Team Member:Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in a group setting
Level 1: Highly Capable Individual:Makes productive contributions through applying competencies, talent, knowledge, skills and good work habits to the job at hand

According to Collins, Level 5 Leadership is not about being “soft” or “nice” or purely “inclusive” or “consensus-building.”



The whole point of Level 5 Leadership is to make sure the right decisions happen:
• No matter how difficult or painful
• For the long-term greatness of the institution and the achievement of its mission, independent of consensus or popularity




Level 5 Leaders are:
• Ambitious first and foremost for the cause, the mission, the work – not themselves
o They have the will to do whatever it takes to make good on their ambition
• Humble and professional
o They are concerned about creating legitimate on-going influence as an organization

Two Types of Leaders and Contexts
• Executive: the individual leader who has enough concentrated power to simply make the right decisions for his/her organization and see them (decisions) implemented
• Legislative: is in a role where they do not have enough structural power to make the most important decisions by his or her self, but through cross-functional influencing and the power of persuasion, they make sure the right decisions are made


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