Naga Chokkanathan

Why Not? — Level 5 Leadership

Posted on: April 1, 2010

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Jim Collins, in his celebrated (and well researched) book “Good To Great” talks about five levels of leadership. This is nothing to do with managers, or supervisors, or team leads, but a general principle anyone can adopt and benefit.

The five levels suggested by Jim Collins:

  • Level 1: Highly Capable Individual – Able to give good contribution to the team by his / her skills, experience and expertise, follows good and effective processes to do his / her job
  • Level 2: Contributing Team Member – In addition to individual performance, people in this level also work towards the team / group / organization goals, Work effectively with others as a team member producing synergy
  • Level 3: Competent Manager – From level 2, there is a leap, People in level 3 are able to take care of themselves, and effectively control / manage others (they may be his / her subordinates, but that’s not really a mandatory need) and take them towards the common goals
  • Level 4: Effective Leader – Able to motivate a team towards higher standards and results
  • Level 5: They are just called “Level 5 Leaders or Executives” – Able to move a team / organization from average / goodness to greatness, at the same time ensuring that it’s not a one man show. Means, even if the level 5 leader moves away, the company should continue to achieve excellence

Becoming a level 5 leader is not easy, Many talented people can grow upto level 4 and that itself will be considered and praised as a great achievement. According to Jim Collins, few individuals who reach the coveted level 5, would have had some personal traits such as:

  • Personal Humility – Modesty, Quiet, Calm determination
  • Focusing on Organizational goals / growth than self
  • Taking the team along with, instead of personal growth. Prepares a effective succession team which can take the organization to even greater heights in the next generation
  • Fearless, Professional Will – Resolve to do whatever needs to be done, however difficult it may be

This means, for an organization to grow, having a single Level 5 leader at the top is not enough, They have to be present in all important positions to ensure a uniform and natural progress, building a ‘level 5 culture’, instead of relying on a super star!



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