What differentiates a good leader from a great leader?
Is it their courage, business acumen, expertise in a particular subject or ability to organize?
Being a great leader certainly requires a healthy blend of various skills. There are also certain characteristics, which can be harder to define, that they must possess and demonstrate consistently.
Being in a leadership role, or pursuing to become a leader you probably wonder where to start and what will help you progress to the next level. Perhaps you aren’t even sure if there is a “next level” from where you currently are.
In 2001, Jim Collins wrote an article published in the Harvard Business Review and later published the book “From Good to Great”. In the book Jim described leadership in 5 levels. My path to leadership began as I read this book. As far as business and leadership books go it remains the most influential in my journey.
During a study that began in 1996, Collins began researching what makes a great company. He started by looking at 1,435 companies, and ended up choosing 11 truly great ones. These 11 companies were all headed by what Jim called “Level 5 Leaders.”
Here are the five levels of leadership as described by Jim:
Level 1: Highly Capable Individual
A level 1 leader makes high contributions to their work and poses useful levels of knowledge. They have the talent and skills needed to do a good job.
Level 2: Contributing Team Member
At level 2 leaders use their knowledge and skills to help their team succeed. They work effectively, productively and successfully with other people in the group.
Level 3: Competent Manager
At level 3 leaders are able to organize a group effectively to achieve specific goals and objectives.
Level 4: Effective Leader
At level 4 leaders are able to galvanize a department or organization to meet performance objectives and achieve a vision. This is where most top leaders seem to land and stay.
Level 5: Great Leader
At level 5 leaders have a unique blend of humility and will that is required for true greatness. In addition, they possess all of the abilities in the previous 4 levels.
In order to move to the next level you need to determine which of the levels you currently possess. From there you can begin to focus on the abilities and qualities of the other levels. However, it is important to note that you needn’t work the levels in order; you just need to possess the traits of each level. The end goal of course would be to land in level 5.
If you have a passion for leadership and are willing to invest the time and effort you will be able to achieve all 5 levels of leadership. Only then will you move from a good leader to a great leader.
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