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Essay: Level 5 Leadership

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  • Published: 23 January 2019*
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“A primary job of leadership is to make every person a leader in their own job” (Class Notes). This statement distinguishes the differentiation between a charismatic versus a Level 5 leader. Based off of notes and research, not all charismatic leaders put their people first, unlike Level 5 leaders. A charismatic leader is one who acts the part and is very persuasive and charming, whereas a Level 5 leader is counter-intuitive and one who has a combined package of leadership factors. Although these leaders are different personality-wise, emotional intelligence is an important ingredient in both forms of leadership. I prefer the Level 5 Leadership because of the different levels they hold that I believe is important to incorporate as a leader.
Before I discuss why Level 5 Leadership is of my preference, I am going to explain more about the characteristics of a charismatic leader. According to the Great Man Theory, a charismatic leader is one who showcases ethics and stewardship and has the ability to handle the well-being of those they lead. “Being a steward means that leaders recognize the ultimate purpose of their work is others and not their self” (Peter Senge, class notes). I feel like this quote and theory conflict examples of charismatic leaders because not all solely lead for others, but for themselves.

A great example of this type of charismatic leader is Winston Churchill. He was a racist, white Supremacist who saw Britain and the white race as winners in the social Darwinism hierarchy. Churchill knew how to play the part and in addition, was competent, committed, clever, and compulsive, which are all aspects of charismatic leaders. He had a monumental ego and was constantly in the business of promoting himself. “Churchill saw life as a pageant, with himself leading the parade” (Isaiah Berlin, class notes). I feel that charismatic leaders are exactly

this description of Churchill, and that is why I prefer Level 5 leadership. Although he was lastingly a success, he was a leader who put himself on a pedestal, and not the people who he led.

I think that putting people first is the most important aspect in Level 5 leadership. “Leadership is not about the next election, it is about the next generation” (Simon Sinek, class notes). This quote encompasses who a Level 5 leader is because they are always focused on the future of the people. A Level 5 leader, according to Collins’ definition, is one who encompasses a combined package of five different levels. The Level 5 hierarchy starts with level one as a highly capable individual, then a contributing team member, competent manager, effective leader, and finally an executive leader who incorporates all of the other level qualities.

Collins argues that of the seven factors identified as essential to take a company to greatness, the key ingredient that allows a company to become great is having a Level 5 leader. This leader is an executive who has a genuine personal humility and will. They are the type of people who routinely select superb successors. Level 5 leaders study in duality. They are modest, but willful, shy and fearless. “Let my actions and results be the proof” (Class Notes). I believe this quote is extremely important as a leader because they then show ambition not for themselves, but for their companies. They only care that their actions made an impact for the organization they work for and prove their modesty in this way. Lastly, Level 5 leaders take their company from merely good to great. Because of this, they prove themselves to have a high level of proficiency and individualism.

I believe a great example of this type of leader is Abraham Lincoln. This president was the epitome of Level 5 because he was modest, philosophical, shy, and the list goes on. He knew what the greater good was. An interesting fact about him is that he used comedy as a coping device. Although he had a great ego, he was able to create things for the people. A poor example of Level 5 leadership is Steve Jobs. The reason why he is not quite this type of leader is because he shined the light on himself in order to sell his products. A Level 5 leader would put the spotlight on the products rather than themselves because they want to prove that their actions resulted in great actions for the people. Even though he wanted to use his Macintosh computers for a good cause, education, he still had a large ego in doing so. He was like an orchestra leader where he was the one with the vision, so he played the players. Because of this, he became a syncretic and arrogant, but successful leader, and had quality control.

Another reason why I prefer Level 5 leadership as opposed to charismatic leadership is their aspect of ying and yang as personal humility. These types of leaders demonstrate a compelling modesty and a shunning public adulation. Like I mentioned before, they are never boastful. Level 5 leaders act with quiet, calm determination. These leaders rely principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, in order to motivate. This proves that although they are ambitious, they would trade personal enticement to the success of their organization. Leaders who practice Level 5 guidance channels ambition into the company, and not themselves. They set up successors for even more greatness in the next generation. This goes back to the quote, “Leadership is not about the next election, it is about the next generation” (Simon Sinek, class notes) and explains that the organization is about continuity and not individualism. Finally, I really love the fact that Level 5 leaders look in the mirror, not out the window, in order to apportion responsibility for poor results. They never blame other people, external factors, or bad luck. Level 5 leadership just sounds like the most perfect type of leader.

“You must know who you are in order to think without deceit” (Attributed to Wittgenstein, Class Notes). Emotional intelligence is the most important aspect in any and every form of a leader. No matter if they are a charismatic or Level 5 leader, they must be self-aware and know who exactly they are in order to lead a group of people. These types of leaders incorporate four different capacities: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill, which are all very vital. Under these capacities, there are multiple different competencies that I find very essential in being a leader.

Having self-awareness and self-management are important because a leader must know how to control oneself. In my opinion, the most essential competencies under controlling oneself include emotional self-awareness, self-confidence, self-control, adaptability, and initiative. With emotional self-awareness, a leader must know how to comprehend their emotions and notice how it affects their performance and relationships. Incorporating self-confidence into your personality will showcase your strong and positive sense of self-worth. For example, if a leader makes a mistake, they must let it go and try to improve that mistake as time goes on. This is called instant amnesia and is important when being a leader. It is like the saying, “The show must go on.” Self-control is the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses under control. Leaders ask themselves the question, “What makes you tick?” in this case. Being able to adapt is extremely vital because everything around you is always changing. As a leader, you cannot just stick to one thing and do the norms. You must be able to adjust to any obstacles or changes that are being made in the organization. Lastly, having initiative should be a must as a leader. They must be a go-getter and wanting to take charge no matter what it is. A bad leader would be someone who sits back and lets everyone else do everything. I think that if a leader incorporates these important competencies, then they are on the right track.

A leader cannot just be self-aware, but also socially aware. Social awareness and social skill are vital to how leaders deal and interact with other people. I think it is most important for leaders to have competencies of empathy, organizational awareness, teamwork and collaboration, conflict management, and communication. Being empathetic is underrated in my opinion. If leaders show this trait, they are able to be moved by others and can be concerned of the needs of others. If a leader did not care about who they are leading, then they should have never been a leader in the first place. They need to have the ability to sense others’ emotions, and comprehend people’s perspectives while taking an active interest in how they are feeling. Organizational awareness is essential because business is about people and process. If you do not understand any of those, then you will not be able to make any decisions and steer politics. Based off of experience, teamwork and collaboration is important under the social skill capacity. No matter what you do in life, you must know how to work and collaborate with others in a successful and accurate manner. If you cannot work with others and learn to take in others’ opinions, you would be a bad leader. Conflict management is also key when it comes to being a leader because not everything is perfect, and not everybody will have the same opinions. The leaders must know how to solve these types of problems. Lastly, I believe that communication is the most essential part when dealing with others. A leader must be able to be clear when speaking to others and also be a good listener.

“The ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions” (Class Notes). In conclusion, I believe emotional intelligence is extremely important in every type of leadership because one must know how to deal with themselves and others and being appropriate when doing so. Steve Jobs had absolutely no sense of emotional intelligence. According to research, having a high self-awareness will lead to better team performance. It requires a mass of six or more competencies that I wrote about. All effective leaders are great teachers because of their skills, enthusiasm, and careful listening recipients.

As you can see, Level 5 leadership encompasses so many important characteristics that make a leader the greatest of all time. The most essential part of why I prefer a Level 5 leader over a charismatic leader is because they put their people and results first and their egos last. When you tie emotional intelligence with any type of leader, they will then have better performance abilities because being aware of oneself and others are extremely vital not only as a leader, but in life as well.

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