Research flaws aside (discussed in my previous post on Good to Great), the success of Level 5 Leadership that Collins presents in his article is compelling. According to Collins, Level 5 Leadership is an executive who possesses personal humility as well as professional will.
Level 5 leaders put the greater good of the company above their personal goals and/or strategy, which is why most leaders only ever make it to Level 4. Moving beyond personal gain to do whatever it takes to make the team/company successful can be a hard transition, especially in such an individualistic society as the U.S. has, but I do think it can lead to success. What makes these individuals even more amazing is that they do not attribute their company’s success to themselves, but rather in the team or luck.
Collins ends by attempting to offer his insight on the question even I had while reading this article, “How can I reach Level 5 Leadership.” His theory is that there are two types of people: those who have the seed for Level 5 and those who don’t. What triggers the seed to grow is unknown, but Collins alludes to some cathartic experience or moment that causes this seed to develop.
I would agree with Collins’ conclusion that even if one doesn’t have the Level 5 seed, the characteristics of this type of leader are ones managers should strive for. Even if Level 5 is never fully achieved, the effort in trying to reach it will make us better people.