Level 5 leaders will look within themselves and then assign themselves the responsibility for failings or poor results rather than throw blame at anyone but themselves. All of this culminates an intense determination and resolve as a Level 5 leader is “an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will” (Collins 21) yet does not succumb to charismatic traps such as overconfidence or a lack of awareness. Their willpower is overwhelmingly positive. Ultimately, level 5 leaders will never stop until they achieve their goals. Yet, when it comes to success, they are levelheaded when they finally achieve their lofty goals. “Level 5 leaders are a study in duality” (Collins 22) and in their mixture of humility and will, Level 5 leaders will be able to go “against the grain of conventional wisdom” (Collins 22) and showcase their propensity for creative solutions to solve ordinary problems while maintaining a supportive leadership style. In other words, Level 5 leaders are born to be great. Collins certainly emphasizes a strange, almost deific, quality that Level 5 leaders have. Fundamentally, they are able to strive for greatness, yet they are able to remain humble. Since Level 5 leaders set the standard through their actions and not necessarily something as tangentially related as charisma, they motivate by raising the bar for success as opposed to a brief smile.
Currently, I am a self-employed event planner, and I specifically plan weddings, so it is my goal to become a Level 4 effective leader on the pyramid. Because my job focuses on the needs of others, I have to “engage individuals’ commitment and contributions to a greater vision and better results” (Collins 20). In other words, as I manage my staff, I also have to encourage my clients to share their ideas and hopes regarding their event. In particular, weddings are extremely stressful for the bride and groom. However, I have found that brides usually experience the most stress. Many of my female clients have specific images of their weddings. It is up to me and my staff to help the bride articulate her desires. Essentially, if the bride does not share her wants, she is not happy with the outcome. Thus, it is her contribution to her event that garners the best results.
When Collins suggests that the best people should be placed on the biggest opportunities rather than the biggest problems, I cannot help but have mixed feelings on the answer. Placing all of your people on a single situation and not spreading their strengths seems as though it would only potentially mean for results that are less than optimal. Of course, perhaps this is something that a Level 5 leader has already considered and established a creative solution in order to cover potential weaknesses. As a manager, I would most likely spread the strengths of my best people. While I would certainly want to benefit from the opportunity, I would not want unnecessary damage to occur due to the concurrent problem. However, my ultimate decision would depend on the context of the situation. I do not feel like there is a catch all choice and there are permutations to every situation that ultimately change it for better or worse. A leader, evolving from good to great, identifies the right people from the wrong and then decides what to do. This is not only just a practice but also a concept. In Collins’ eyes, who should always come before what. Defining something as abstract as who a ‘right’ person is comes down to character traits rather than technical skill or specific knowledge. Anyone could potentially learn the necessary skills for the job, but willingness to learn and enthusiasm are not as so easily imparted. Great leaders are capable of making precise decisions in regard to their people choices. As an illustration, chapters 2 and 3 were about the individual, but chapter 4 then expands out to the good-to-great company itself. This chapter is fundamentally about optimistic realism. Being aware of one’s status in the world and how to clearly define the road to take in order to reach one’s goals can be coexistent ideals. In order to foster this willingness to acknowledge troubled times, a good-to-great leader must foster a company culture in which dialogue is encouraged, and where open and honest discussion can be considered an option by a leader’s people. Ultimately, crises may happen, but each individual should understand how to overcome them.
Collins also suggests that less charismatic leaders produce better long-term results, but I would disagree with this assertion. I feel that Level 5 leaders can be charismatic and in fact might be able to produce even better results by adding this to their natural tendency for excellence. However, if leaders only have their personalities going for them, they will probably be ineffective in comparison. In this scenario, yes, it would be more likely for them to possibly create more liabilities than assets because their strength would then be reliant upon their people and their people alone. Their force of personality could become too influential and ultimately disruptive. Compounded with Level 5 leader qualities, however, I think that charisma could only be a benefit. Incidentally, some employees may consider this optimism as charisma. In that case, charismatic leaders could retain excellent long-term results; however, they must embrace their organizations as whole rather than separate individuals who work together.
A self-motivated employee is simply most efficient. If employees or leaders cannot self-motivate, it is difficult to say whether or not they will ever be capable of doing so. Character traits are important to consider for employees because constantly handholding certain employees and spending time motivating them to achieve success is, unfortunately, not the optimal decision. If an employee can self-motivate, that is less for a leader to oversee. However, great leaders will offer positive reinforcement to employees. It can be as much as a promotion or it can be as little as a few words that acknowledge a job well done. In a sense, leaders can condition their workers to understand that self- motivation is a key attribute to success.
Collins, James C. "Chapters 2-4." Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap--and Others Don't. New York, NY: Harper Business, 2001. 17-65. Print.