I was talking with a Director at a Fortune 500 company about how to “aim higher” in leadership. In life, in general, aiming higher takes energy – and attention – and those are two scarce commodities in today’s work world. So having an intention to do better in organizations, well, it needs a little push.
Level 5 Leadership, introduced in 2001 by Jim Collins, is a way to push. He studied 1,425 Fortune 500 companies. Leadership at this level, is about personal humility and professional will. And how a person blends these two to achieve and sustain greatness (stock returns at least 3x the market’s – for 15 years after a major transition period).
- Acts with quiet calm, determination.
- Modest, shunning public adulation.
- Look in the mirror, not out the window to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck
- Channels ambition into the company, sets up successors for even more greatness in the next generation.
- Creates superb results.
- Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to product the best long-term results, no mater how difficult.
- Sets the standard of building an enduring great company.
- Looks out the window, not in the mirror to apportion credit for the success of the company – to other people, external factors, and good luck.
If you’ve got a monumental ego, you probably won’t be able to make the leap to level 5 leadership. But if you can get past your ego, here’s a roadmap to help you:
- First Who. Attend to people first, strategy second. Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off – then figure out where to drive it.
- Faith Paradox. Deal with the brutal facts of your current reality – while maintaining absolute faith that you’ll prevail.
- Use your Flywheel. Keep pushing your organizational “flywheel.” With consistent effort, momentum increase until the wheel hits the break through point.
- Hedgehog. Think of your company as three intersecting circles: what it can be best at, how its economics work best, and what ignites the employees’ passions. Eliminate everything else.