HBS Article: Level 5 Leadership by Jim Collins

April 6, 2010

The Triumph Of Humility And Fierce Resolve

Similar to his previous article titled Good to Great, or just Good? Jim Collins delight us again with another pretty feel-good article yet embellished with interesting Level 5 leadership ideas; powerful ideas, truthful ideas he asserts will shift an organization from good to great, ideas that will likely become not only essential, but also will lead to sustained great results “what a delusion”, Collins pointed out.

“What catapults a company from merely good to truly great? A five-year research project searched for the answer to that question, and its discoveries ought to change the way we think about leadership”

We clearly see his ideas are still kind of unfounded. I personally believe that what makes Collins’s own work; articles, researches, and books good to read is just the mark; his personal brand, and the way he advertises it, which I do applaud. Of course he’s got more than 20 years of professional experience looking to find the good to great disciplines to move the organizations in the right direction, however he still recognizes “there is no guarantee that doing so will turn executives into full-fledged level 5 leaders, but it gives them a tangible place to begin with, especially if they have the seed within”.

Reaching level 5 leadership requires that you have a seed ingrained in you which you can then grow. For others you must have a significant life event change your ego to humility, and personal humility + professional will = level 5 executive “the perfect dose to reach level 5 leadership”.

In reality we know that causation is almost practically impossible to prove. Of course correlation exists when he attempts to prove that a level 5 leader along with his 5 principles and some other researches he’s done lead a company from good to greatness (pure commonalities among the top 11 hedgehog companies he analyzed on his study), however it is almost impossible to prove any causation because of so many different environmental and financial considerations.

I do applaud Collin’s good effort to discuss about leadership and its differences in style yet I will never attribute performance of a company exclusively to the leader, that would enable leaders grow admiration; ego, influence, and power, such negative symptoms we discussed in the article “the dean’s disease”.  

In summary, Collin’s greatest mistake of his work presented in this case was his tendency to make specific evaluations based on a general impression, principal flaw of his study, and which is also stated on Phil Rosenzweig’s book titled “The Halo Effect”, such business delusions of correlation and causality, single explanations, lasting success, etc. which we clearly see them in this article and which Phil uncovers them in his book as well. So, Collins’s research would still remain flawed.  http://www.the-halo-effect.com/book/index.html

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