Thursday, January 24, 2008

How to Make Good Great

One of the foremost writers on leadership is Jim Collins. I suggest you go to his web page at and read his analysis of leadership.

I was particularly struck by this short summary of his "Levels of Leaders".

If you want to grasp the essence of the type of leader who turns good into great, just keep in mind Darwin Smith. It turns out that every good-to-great company in our study had a leader from the Darwin Smith school of management at the helm during the pivotal years. We eventually came to call these remarkable people “Level 5 leaders.”

The term “Level 5” refers to a five-level hierarchy. Level 1 relates to individual capability, Level 2 to team skills, Level 3 to managerial competence, and Level 4 to leadership as traditionally conceived. Level 5 leaders possess the skills of levels 1 to 4 but also have an “extra dimension”: a paradoxical blend of personal humility (“I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job”) and professional will (“sell the mills”).

They are somewhat self-effacing individuals who deflect adulation, yet who have an almost stoic resolve to do absolutely whatever it takes to make the company great, channeling their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.

It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves.

Do your look for selfless leaders? I don't mean co-dependent leaders who treat you like a victim but a person who will tell you the truth to set you free.

Who in the current gaggle of Presidential candidates is a Level 5 Leader? Who will you choose to be the next person to lead this nation? Do you want a Santa Clause who promises a lot of goodies and toys or a person who will face the tough choices that are here?

No comments: