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November 19, 2020 Thursday 10:12:07 AM IST

How to be a Level 5 leader?

Leadership Instincts

What makes leaders unique? Is it their audacity? Their business intelligence? Their expert knowledge? Their capacity to organize? Truly great leaders have a specific combination of skills. But they also own something else; certain qualities which are harder to define. If you're in a leadership role, then you've likely pondered how you can push yourself to the ‘next level,’ going from good to great leadership. The idea of Level 5 Leadership was shaped by business consultant, Jim Collins. He discussed about it in a popular Harvard Business Review article published in the year and shared his research in his best-selling book, Good to Great.
The thought of Level 5 leadership is exceptional because it is based on first-hand evidence. Over a five-year period, Collins piloted a research project to determine what differentiated the so-called ‘good’ firms from ‘great’ ones. According to Collins, great enterprises were those that made at least three amazing leaps in stock returns during a time span of over one-and- a- half decades. By matching data from more than 1,436 establishments, he found that only 11 concerns fit these criteria. These 11 firms were all spearheaded by what Collins called ‘Level 5 Leaders.’


Jim Collins categorized leaders into five levels.


 Level 1 leader is an extremely skilled individual. He plays a crucial role in the success of his business through his own capacity, knowledge, skills, and exceptional work habits.

 A Level 2 leader is a perfect team player. He is very adept at working with his team members and guarantees that his team meets its allotted goals, and fulfils the core objective.

A Level 3 leader is a proficient manager. He is capable of organizing manpower and resources towards achieving key goals of the organization.

A Level 4 leader is an effective leader who sets high level performance standards. He is incredible at inspiring his workforce and leading them towards achieving his vision for the company.

A Level 5 leader alters the firm into a great institution. He exemplifies personal humility and professional will.


Becoming Level 5 Leader



It takes a lot of time and determination to evolve as a Level 5 Leader. But the good news is that it can be done, particularly if you are passionate about trying. Again, it's key to comprehend that you don't have to grow through each level in turn in order to reach Level 5. But you do need the competences identified in each level in order to accomplish Level 5 status. Here are some approaches that will help you build the characteristics of a Level 5 Leader:


•    Lead With Passion –Steve Jobs was a master at both leading with passion and empowering and inspiring his staff to complete tasks on their own. He became a role model for his employees by displaying qualities he wished to see them exhibit, like his particular attention to detail. Every good organization has a mission statement. But every great organization has a labour force built up by peoplewho are aware about that mission statement by heart and use their every working hour to drive it ahead. By continuing as a vital part of Apple from beginning to end, frequently dropping in to check up on his employees and chipping in with innovative concepts, Jobs ensured that mission statement will permeate across the entire workforce.


•    Find the Right People - Level 5 Leaders are heavily dependent on the people around them. They spend time finding the right people, and helping them reach their full potential. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is well known for his hiring practices. In the early days of Amazon, Bezos was infamous for making interviews very tough for the candidates and examining every detail of their background. He had a vision and was looking for individuals who would go on to make Amazon what it is today. One of the favourite mottos of Bezos was that every time Amazon hires an individual, he or she should raise the bar for the next hire so that the general talent pool was always getting better.


•    Learning from Mistakes - Looking at Microsoft’s dominating presence in the market, one wonders how it managed to outlive the many skittering competitors that arose in the periphery through the years. This became a reality only because Microsoft has always stressed learning from mistakes. Gates had to deal with with anti-trust lawsuit claiming that Microsoft was a monopoly that led to a two decade long legal battle. Likewise, a lot of Microsoft’s products have been a point of dispute for its many users, and some of them failed dismally in the highly competitive market. But Gates has always been obstinate about learning from his failures and, sure enough, succeeded to come up with a billion-dollar idea to resolve it each time.



•    Develop Humility - Level 5 Leaders are down to earth individuals. They understand why humility is significant, and comprehend – at a profound, emotional level – why arrogance is so damaging. Warren Buffett lives a modest lifestyle despite his net worth of around RS 60, 430 crores. Despite that Buffett lives in the same Omaha house since 1958 that he originally bought for $31,500. The house is a simple five-bedroom and 2 bathroom house Buffet love using his Nokia flip phone, a device that was outdated for most at the time. In an interview with Forbes, Buffett shared that whenever he flies, he forgoes the comforts of first class to sit in a crate alongside the luggage and pets underneath the plane. The 90-year-old investor elucidated that his choice to move in the small cargo was not about saving money—he’s absolutely happy with the simple things in life.
Even though reaching Level 5 leadership is really challenging, it is not without a dividend. People who accomplish Level 5 leadership in their careers are rewarded with remarkable responsibility, respect and perhaps best of all, a legacy of astonishing influence on their organizations.



Dr. Manu Melwin Joy

The writer is an Assistant Professor at School of Management Studies, CUSAT

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