I think about leadership a lot. I guess that's why I care so much about the development of leaders in organizations and spend so much of my work in that space. While there is a lot of talk about leadership, it's not often you meet people who exemplify the best of it. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins describes the attributes of leaders at the five levels he has identified.
The Level 5 leader is the most effective, as defined by Collins. Such leaders are at the Pinnacle and are respected. People follow them because of who they are and what they represent. These are the leaders who walk the talk and live their lives the way they say they do.
I know two Level 5 leaders personally and am struck by the characteristics so clearly defined by Collins.
1. Humility. Yes, humility. Both of the leaders I'm speaking of illustrate this trait. While they have recognition of their talents, they shy away from praise, giving it instead, to the people on their teams. They recognize their success is due to the people who work with them. As one says, "I can take anything but a compliment". With so many people out in the world boasting about their accomplishments, I am always amazed at this kind of humility.
2. WILL. These men have high standards and constantly strive to improve and to do better. They recognize success and go to great lengths to achieve it. Not easily sidetracked, they know set goals and strategies and keep moving toward them until they are satisfied with the results. They know their mind, they adhere to their personal beliefs, and I suspect they don't suffer fools.
There is one more thing that I believe is key to their success. True Caring for People. This is the one that most impresses me, and I know it's what makes both of them successful. When speaking of their careers, both speak at length about the people they've managed. They go to extraordinary lengths to ensure those under their command are well cared for, treated with respect, listened to, and developed. Where many leaders will boast about their accomplishments, these two men deflect that kind of talk and praise their teams for the work they do.
These are just a few of my thoughts on the topic. For a complete discussion, pick up the book and give it a read. It's a good one.
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