Essay: Level 5 Leadership

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  • Subject area(s): Leadership essays
  • Reading time: 6 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published on: January 23, 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2
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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.

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