In many great companies, the Level 5 leader has been found to be the most important factor for the company’s factor. It is not because they are able to do a great job themselves. Rather, it is because they are able to bring together disciplined and talented people to do the task. The Level 5 Leader simply sets the way for all the others to do the work. Among the four stages or principles, the Level 5 Leader is the most important to understand and emulate in an education or school environment.
The Level 5 Leader is not the same as the celebrity leader the world is familiar with. Celebrity leaders are usually very smart people who perform their jobs because they want to be rich. They are concerned particularly more concerned with themselves than with any other thing else. This is not to say however that they do not do their jobs well. They do. However, they are the only ones who are able to do it. Because they are very smart, they can solve problems all by themselves. As a result, the companies post spectacular performances while they are at the helm of operations. Unfortunately, the companies’ performances deteriorate once they leave.
The outlook and interests of the celebrity leaders are in stark contrast those of with the Level 5 Leader, A Level 5 leader is more concerned with the long-term success of the organization. Fame and fortune are not as important to him as they are to a celebrity leader. He is more concerned in seeing to it that a company continually succeeds even when he is no longer around. This commitment is particularly important for an educational administrator. After all, it is not the personal fame or success of the administrator that matters. The long-term success of students and other beneficiaries of any educational organizations are more important. It is thus important for an administrator to learn why the Level 5 Leader succeeds.
Like the celebrity leader, the Level 5 Leader is also very smart. However, he does not rely solely on himself to solve problems and perform important the work. He hires disciplined and talented people. That is the starting point of everything: having the right disciplined and talented people. It is important to note that people are an organization’s most important asset. This needs to be qualified however. Not all people are assets. Only the right people are. So, the Level 5 Leader must get rid of the wrong ones decisively.
Disciplined people are the starting point of a firm’s transformation from good to great. Like the Level 5 Leader, they do not need to be managed very tightly. They are self-motivated. Their drive comes from within themselves. While income and benefits are important, these are not the sole force driving disciplined people to succeed. They simply want to do a very good job and to see that the entire firm succeeds as a result of their work.
Having disciplined people alone however does not determine success for a company. Even comparison companies and even failures have disciplined people in them. The important contribution of disciplined people into a great company is the development of a culture of disciplined thinking.
Disciplined thinking brings about many changes in the organization. It helps the organization focus on the right things, on the most essential to be great. Level 5 Leaders and disciplined people are like hedgehogs. They have strong focus. No matter what else is going around them they are able to proceed with what is more important. This most important thing is an intersection of three things: their core competence, their passion, and their source of income. By determining this intersection, they are able to find out where a company could be best in, make the work interesting for everybody, and most importantly prosper economically. This is the second stage of the process to greatness referred to as the hedgehog concept.
Determining that matter however is only the starting point. Concrete and decisive action needs to be taken. With discipline thought, there is disciplined action. With the leader’s guidance, the organization develops a culture of discipline that is focused on doing the intersection of the three areas well. The process moves to the third stage of having a culture of discipline.
A culture of discipline can sometimes be mistaken for a tyrannical culture. The two are not the same. A culture of discipline is not a reign of tyranny. The Level 5 Leader can be very thorough but not ruthless. The leader and his disciplined team are self-driven. They take disciplined action. They will do whatever it takes to make the company truly great. A tyrant can also achieve great results. People act out of fear rather than commitment. The research have shown that such success are usually short-lived, only for the period while the tyrant is active. Once he leaves, everyone returns to their old bad habits.
When people are disciplined and properly motivated, work tends to be done faster. Even bureaucracy can be minimized. After all, bureaucracy seems to have been developed to assist the inept in an organization.
The growth of an organization from good to great is not one of instant transformation. It is a step-by-step process of growth harnessing what the company knows as its greatest strength—doing what they can be best at, earning profits from the active, and being passionate about. The growth does not bank on fads and technology. The great companies use technology to strengthen their focus and accelerate their movement toward their goals. Like hedgehogs, they are not distracted by these developments. They just use them whenever they are useful.
Once the cycle intensifies and the company has achieved some degree of greatness, it now moves to being built to last.
The Level 5 Leader and his team of disciplined people are thus the most important stage in the process of growing from good to great. The Level 5 Leader is the starting point of everything. He begins by recruiting his team then trying to understand the organization so he can begin the transformation. The leader and his team is involved in every stage of the process. No stage can ever be completed without the leader taking action and guiding the team.
An administrator of an educational organization thus needs to learn the skills of the Level 5 Leader. The entire point of the books is to teach how this could be achieved. So, this is something that people can learn. Learning would not be enough. The administrator must be able to apply his lessons in his environment. The transformation that he will bringing about will not only be for the organization’s benefit, but more importantly for the organization’s beneficiaries and constituents.
Collins, J. (2001). Good to Great. New York: Harper Business.