What does it take to lead the transformation of a country? How does that differ from leading an organization to sustained, great performance?
As I listened to the tributes to Nelson Mandela, I was taken by the humble way that he wished to be remembered.
“I would like it to be said, here lies a man who has done his duty on earth, that’s all.” – Nelson Mandela
I realized that same kind of humility was also an attribute for what business author Jim Collins (Good To Great) characterized as a Level 5 Leader. All of the leaders profiled in the book led their companies in a transformation from good performance to great. Is it fair to say that transforming a country requires some of the same stuff as transforming an organization?
Here is how Jim Collins defines his leadership levels: 1 to 5
Level 5 Executive
|Building enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.|
|Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance standards.|
|Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives.|
Contributing Team Member
|Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in a group setting.|
Highly Capable Individual
|Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills and good work habits|
Source: Jim Collins.com
His definition of the Level 5 Leader could and should have a photo of Nelson Mandela next to it as he personified a humble person with a strong will that achieved greatness.
A Deeper Look at the Two Sides of Level 5 Leadership
Let’s look closer at the Professional Will and Personal Humility in terms of how these leaders act. These attributes were common in the Leaders of the Good To Great Companies. Do they also define the style of Nelson Mandela?
- Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.
- Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
- Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less.
- Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.
- Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
- Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
- Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
- 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.
While effective leadership comes in all shapes, styles and behaviors, the achievements of Mr. Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and those Good To Great CEOs are enough to get us to respect the effectiveness of their similar approach.
- Pursuit of Good To Great Leadership For more on recognizing and developing the attributes of the Level 5 Leader
- Humility and Naivety are Underrated
- Finding Your First Follower
Mandela photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons