Leadership Best Practices
As you navigate the stormy waters of the global economy in 2009, probing for ways to profitably grow your business, it’s time to take a hard look at your company’s leadership. Pointing the way with a steady hand is one primary responsibility for any company leader. Your team must believe in your direction and why you are headed the way you are. But what do we really know about Leadership? What models are there for you to learn from as you grow into the leader you need to be for the benefit of your company and employees, your customers and for you personally?
One of the best studies on Leadership has been conducted by Jim Collins, well known author of Good to Great and Built to Last. He defines Leadership into five levels, today we will only discuss Level Five Leadership as a way to understand how to personally grow as a leader.
Contrast what most of us have been lead to believe about successful business leaders with what Mr. Collins has learned about Level Five Leaders. Much has been made of celebrity CEOs, who are larger than life, charismatic and a bigger story than their companies. The rise and popularity of CEOs like Jack Welch (GE), Larry Bossidy (Honeywell), Robert Nardelli (Home Depot and Chrysler), Lee Iacocca (Chrysler during the last crisis), Stanley Gault(Rubbermaid), John Thain (Merrill Lynch) and many more are examples of these celebrity CEOs. But how successful were they for their companies in the long run? The jury is certainly out on that question, just look at the current state of the companies they ran and the results of their management styles.
Now contrast theses with the long-term successful leaders that Jim Collins uncovered in his research, most of whom I doubt you have ever heard of. The list includes people like Darwin Smith, who led Kimberly Clark for over 20 years, Ren McPherson from Dana in the years when the company was a model for progressive management, David Maxwell from Fannie Mae, probably Steve Jobs from Apple, and other historical figures like Abraham Lincoln.
Level Five Leadership
What are the main characteristics that define a Level Five Leader? Collins found it’s “an executive in whom genuine personal humility blends with an intense professional will”. Just think about that for a minute, blending Humility and Will. What does this really mean in the business world? One key meaning is personal authenticity that acts as a magnet to attract high performers to his or her team, who are so critical for the success of any business. The leader is humble about his or her personal strengths and abilities while being single minded about leading the company forward and achieving the Vision that is so important to growing firms.
So How Do You Compare?
Compare yourself honestly with the following description of the attributes and characteristics of Professional Will and Personal Humility:
- Creates superb results
- Clear catalyst for change
- Demonstrates unwavering resolve long-term
- Sets the standard to build a great company
- Will settle for nothing less than achieving the Vision
- Takes responsibility for bad decisions and poor results
- Takes the high road with people