Leadership 2.0

Recently, Jim Collins, #1 bestselling author of Good to Great, talked to Inc. magazine on their podcast “What I Know” about meeting Steve Jobs and how he was a different leader when he came back to work for Apple a second time.

The difference, said Collins, was, “(Jobs) never lost the passion for what he was doing, and he was growing and he was learning.”

That learning contributed to what Collins called “Steve Jobs 2.0.” In his time away from Apple, Jobs elevated himself to a “Level 5” leader, exemplifying a concept Collins talks about in Good to Great. “It’s not about just being a genius with a thousand helpers, it’s about creating a culture of genius that ultimately doesn’t need the genius.”

“Level 5” refers to the highest level in a hierarchy of executive capabilities that Collins and his team identified during robust research of good and great companies. Leaders at the other four levels in the hierarchy can produce high degrees of success but not enough to elevate companies from mediocrity to sustained excellence.

Although other factors are in play when a company transitions from good to great, Collins states, “Good-to-great transformations don’t happen without Level 5 leaders at the helm. They just don’t.”

Level 5 leaders are not the larger-than-life characters most of us expect. Instead these transformative leaders possess a paradoxical mixture of personal humility and professional will. “They are timid and ferocious. Shy and fearless. They are rare — and unstoppable.”

Collins believes there is a category of people who have the capacity to evolve to Level 5.

“The capability resides within them, perhaps buried or ignored, but there nonetheless. And under the right circumstances — self-reflection, conscious personal development, a mentor, a great teacher, loving parents, a significant life experience, a Level 5 boss, or any number of other factors — they begin to develop.”

Explore your capacity for Level 5 leadership by learning more about Jim Collin’s books and concepts on his website, where he includes a library of articles about leadership.

MORE ABOUT JIM COLLINS
Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. Having invested more than a quarter century in rigorous research, he has authored or coauthored a series of books that have sold in total more than 10 million copies worldwide. They include Beyond Entrepreneurship (and the newly released Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 version), written as a roadmap for entrepreneurs and leaders of small-to-mid-sized enterprises who want to build enduring great companies provides enduring great companies, Good to Great, the #1 bestseller, which examines why some companies make the leap and others don’t; the enduring classic Built to Last, which discovers why some companies remain visionary for generations; How the Mighty Fall, which delves into how once-great companies can self-destruct; and Great by Choice, which uncovers the leadership behaviors for thriving in chaos and uncertainty.

*

Grow and learn with our Supervisory Leadership Certificate Program, which includes a diverse course curriculum that not only includes a core course “Development Yourself and Others” but also covers other critical topics like “Coaching for Performance,” “Change Management,” “Supervision and Human Resource Functions,” “Interpersonal Communication,” “Helping Your Team Achieve Organizational Management,” along with a Capstone Course that integrates all the learning and knowledge. Now enrolling for the spring session, starting in February.

*

RESOURCES:
Harvard Business Review. “Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve,” Jim Collins, January 2001.
Inc., “The Lesson Management Guru Jim Collins Learned from Steve Jobs,” Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, January 2021.

Chasing Strengths

What Really Matters in Effective Leadership

The maxim may be true that you cannot lead others if you don’t understand yourself. However, leading only with a strengths-based focus can reveal character blind spots, which may cascade to organizational weaknesses.

For example, a creative, big-picture thinker who cannot translate their vision into a realistic operating plan with specifics about resources, responsibilities and timelines is hamstrung if they don’t seek out ways to develop the yang to their yin.

A natural collaborator who can bring people together and pool insights won’t be much use if they don’t know when or how to end discussion and decide next steps.

In some ways, chasing strengths is a cop-out. Leaders can be lulled into thinking that their strengths are enough. This may inhibit their development mindset. Also, weaknesses are weaknesses, and there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If a leader can only operate in “command” mode, what are they not hearing or observing?

What’s needed is a a more balanced approach to leadership learning and development, especially in today’s complex, dynamic, ever-shifting world.

New research shows that the most effective leaders are the ones with the broadest repertoire of complementary skills and competencies. In other words, they are versatile.

Versatility is the capacity to read and respond to change with a wide range of correlative skills and behaviors.

How Does a Leader Develop Versatility?

  • Broaden your perspective — Seek out roles that stretch your skills and experiences. Versatile leaders tend to have more diverse career paths and work experiences than others, as well as the learning agility to absorb lessons and incorporate them in their leadership tool kits.
  • Solicit ongoing feedback — It’s crucial to get input about the impact and effectiveness of your behavior. Versatile leaders not only respond well to change, they also change their behavior in response to constructive criticism.
  • Become a more well-rounded person — Be open to new opportunities and capabilities. Versatile leaders show a pattern of stepping beyond the familiar and comfortable.

As you move forward, developing as a leader and a person, this quote from the late Peter Drucker could be your touchstone.

What should I stop, start and continue doing to be more effective?
—Peter Drucker

*

Our Supervisory Leadership Certificate Program includes a diverse course curriculum that not only includes a core course “Development Yourself and Others” but also covers other critical topics like “Coaching for Performance,” “Change Management,” “Supervision and Human Resource Functions,” “Interpersonal Communication,” “Helping Your Team Achieve Organizational Management,” along with a Capstone Course that integrates all the learning and knowledge. Now enrolling for the spring session, starting in February.

*

RESOURCES:
Harvard Business Review, “The Best Leaders are Versatile Ones,” Robert B. Kaiser, March 2, 2020.

Talent Quarterly, “Your Leader’s Strengths May Be Your Company’s Weaknesses,” Rob Kaiser, M.S., September 17, 2019.

*

EXTRA CREDIT:
Read Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein or watch his TED Talk “Why Specializing Early Doesn’t Always Mean Career Success.”

Defining Leadership for Yourself

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of leadership encompasses: 1) the office or position of a leader; 2) capacity to lead; 3) the act or instance of leading; and 4) leaders.

Leadership is personal and organizational. It can be demand-driven, purpose-driven, people-driven or all three.

Leadership can be described differently by different people, depending on their vantage point.

The Wall Street Journal asserts that leaders should be able to adapt their style to the moment, responding to the particulars of a challenge. Effective leaders should be able to move between the following modes:

  • Visionary — Helping an organization determine a new direction by moving people toward a new set of shared dreams.
  • Coaching — When working one-on one to guide an individual’s professional development and to connect them to the broader organizational mission.
  • Affiliate — If morale or trust are issues, this style focuses on team-building by connecting people to each other.
  • Democratic — This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, creating a group commitment to organizational goals.
  • Pacesetting — In this style, the leader sets the standard for performance.
  • Commanding — The classic model of “military”-style leadership, best suited for crisis or urgent situations. Probably the most often used, but the least often effective. Even the military has come to recognize its limited usefulness.

Tony Robbins, author, coach and nationally-renowned motivational speaker, insists all leaders should cultivate a style with an underpinning of servant leadership. That is, you using your leadership skills to serve a greater good. He believes you should first identify your purpose and then you explore the types of leadership style to determine which aligns best with your personality and situation.

His styles relate largely to the ones shared above. He even includes a “Style Quiz” to help you identify your particular style or combination of styles.

Harvard Business Review classifies leadership styles as “archetypes,” which simultaneously stamps the individual’s personality and situation onto a prototype as follows:

  • The strategist: leadership as a game of chess.
  • The change catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity.
  • The transactor: leadership as deal-making
  • The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity.
  • The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation.
  • The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency.
  • The coach: leadership as a form of people development.
  • The communicator: leadership as stage management.

What all these descriptions have in common is a certain level of self-awareness. The exercise of exploring personal leadership styles results in a greater understanding of an individual’s personality strengths and weaknesses, and how they might be best leveraged within an organization to have the desired result.

What matters ultimately is how you define leadership for yourself, and how that definition serves the organization and mission you find yourself charged with.

*

The core course in our Supervisory Leadership Certificate Program is “Developing Yourself and Others,” which includes a CliftonStrengths 34 assessment. You will learn your unique strengths and how best to leverage as a leader for the fulfillment of your organization’s mission and your individual purpose. Now enrolling for the spring session, starting in February.

*

RESOURCES:
Wall Street Journal, “How-To Guide: Developing a Leadership Style,” adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.
Tony Robbins, “7 Types of Leadership Styles.”
Harvard Business Review, “The Eight Archetypes of Leadership,” Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, December 18, 2013.