Introducing Level 5 Leadership – Jim Collins’ HBR article!


The concept of Level 5 Leadership was created by business consultant, Jim Collins. He wrote about it in a well-respected 2001 Harvard Business Review article, and published his research in his popular book, “From Good to Great.” The concept came about during a study that began in 1996, when 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 Collins called “Level 5 Leaders.”

He found that these leaders have humility, and they don’t seek success for their own glory; rather, success is necessary so that the team and organization can thrive. They share credit for success, and they’re the first to accept blame for mistakes. Collins also says that they’re often shy, but fearless when it comes to making decisions, especially ones that most other people consider risky. Level 5 Leaders also possess qualities found in four other levels of leadership that Collins identified. Although you don’t have to pass sequentially through each individual level before you become a Level 5 Leader, you must have the skills and capabilities found in each level of the hierarchy.

Let’s look at each of the five levels in more detail:

Level 1: Highly Capable Individual

At this level, you make high quality contributions with your work. You possess useful levels of knowledge; and you have the talent and skills needed to do a good job.

Level 2: Contributing Team Member

At Level 2, you use your knowledge and skills to help your team succeed. You work effectively, productively and successfully with other people in your group.

Level 3: Competent Manager

Here, you’re able to organize a group effectively to achieve specific goals and objectives.

Level 4: Effective Leader

Level 4 is the category that most top leaders fall into. Here, you’re able to galvanize a department or organization to meet performance objectives and achieve a vision.

Level 5: Great Leader

At Level 5, you have all of the abilities needed for the other four levels, plus you have the unique blend of humility and will that’s required for true greatness.

How to Become a Level 5 Leader?

It takes time and effort to become a Level 5 Leader. But the good news is that it can be done, especially if you have the passion to try. Again, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to progress through each level in turn in order to get to Level 5. But you do need the capabilities found in each level in order to achieve Level 5 status. Here are some strategies that will help you grow emotionally and professionally, so that you can develop the qualities of a Level 5 Leader:

Develop Humility –

Level 5 Leaders are humble people. So, learn why humility ‘Add to My Personal Learning Plan’ is important, and make sure that you understand – at a deep, emotional level – why arrogance is so destructive. Then ensure that you behave in a humble way – for example, whenever your team has success, make sure that credit goes to them for their hard work. Conversely, as a leader, you need to take responsibility for your team’s efforts, even when things go wrong.

Ask for Help –

Level 5 Leaders are sometimes mistakenly thought of as “weak,” because they ask for help when they need it. However, learning how to ask for help ‘Add to My Personal Learning Plan’ is a genuine strength, because it lets you call upon the expertise of someone stronger in an area than you are. The result? The entire team or organization wins; not just you.

Take Responsibility –

A top attribute of Level 5 Leaders is that they take responsibility ‘Add to My Personal Learning Plan’ for their team’s mistakes or failings. So make sure that you take responsibility for your (and your team’s) actions.

Develop Discipline –

Level 5 Leaders are incredibly disciplined ‘Add to My Personal Learning Plan’ in their work. When they commit to a course of action, no matter how difficult it is, they stick to their resolve. If you know in your heart that you’re right, then don’t let naysayers dissuade you from a course of action. It’s always important to listen to differing opinions, of course, but don’t let fear be your driving motivator when you make, or change, a decision.

Find the Right People –

Level 5 Leaders depend on the people around them. They spend time finding the right people ‘Add to My Personal Learning Plan’, and helping them reach their full potential. If you’re a leader or manager already, then you probably know without thinking who your best people are. However, you sometimes have to challenge these assumptions – our article on The Leader-Member Exchange Theory Add to My Personal Learning Plan shows you how to do this, so that you can get the best from everyone on your team.

Lead with Passion –

Level 5 Leaders are passionate about what they do, and they’re not afraid to show it. When you demonstrate to your team members that you love and believe in what you’re doing, they will too. If you’re having a hard time finding passion in your work, then you need to search for the human benefit in what you’re doing.

(Source: Mindtools)


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 4: THINK WIN-WIN


Think Win-Win isn’t about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration.

Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing–that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it’s not fair, and I’m going to make sure you don’t get anymore. We all play the game, but how much fun is it really?

Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty darn good!

A person or organization that approaches conflicts with a win-win attitude possesses three vital character traits:

1. Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments
2. Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
3. Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone

Many people think in terms of either/or: either you’re nice or you’re tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that–to achieve that balance between courage and consideration–is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.


Discussion on Clayton Christensen article at Alumni Meet of SIMSR !


(Photo: Alumni Co-ordinator and moderator Ms Radha Iyer elaborating on her point, while Alumni Rahul Desai (L) and Raman Ramamurthy pay attention to her during the ‘lively’ discussion in progress)

The Alumni Committee of the K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research (ALCOM) wrote .. inviting me to be on the panel for the discussion on an article from Harvard Business Review by Clayton Christensen, “How will you measure your life” on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at the Institute premises.

Clayton Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches one of the most popular elective classes for second year students, ‘Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise.’ He is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth and his ideas have been widely used in industries and organizations throughout the world.

Clayton Christensen through his article, ‘How will you measure your life’ – proposes .. one needs to plan, decide, set a career goal and understand how he or she will measure his or her life, right while being a MBA student at the end of final year of the post graduate program. Because, he feels there is no time to think on this later .. since life becomes more demanding : You take on a mortgage loan to pay off installments ; you are working 70 hours a week ; you have a spouse and children. So, through his article, Clayton asks his students to find cogent answers to three questions : First, how can I be sure that I will be happy in my career ? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness ? Third, how can I be sure I will stay out of jail ?

No doubt, it seems quite simple in principle – you already have the right questions in front of you, so it should not be difficult getting the right answers either. But, is it so simple as it looks like ? That is the reason, as few ‘invited’ senior alumni, we were on the panel to discuss the same for the benefit of final year students intending to pass out during the academic year 2013-14. Let me ask you .. please tell me .. How do we measure our life ? Is money alone the powerful motivator in our lives to find happiness in our career ? Does self-awareness play a role in understanding what we need and what we do not ? Are we really ‘self aware’ when we are at a young age of less than 24 years aspiring to be a MBA ? Is the concept .. ‘there is no free lunch !’ .. well-understood by us while we are in the final year of the MBA program. Do we know then .. Whether Am I going to be leading a happy married life and raise my son or my daughter well enough so as to make me happy ? Whether Am I going to lead a life of integrity (‘staying out of jail’) so that I can set an example for others to follow ? Whether Am I going to lead a healthy and stress-free life ?

Forget the answers, even these questions are unknown to us, while we are in the final year of the program. I have realized that life is an uncharted territory which reveals its story only from moment to moment. In fact, life can be understood only in hindsight, though we all try and lead a life with sufficient foresight. Trust me when I say, no one is in complete awareness as to how his or her life will unfold in future when in the final year? And, happiness is only a state of mind! How many of us understand this ‘simple’ abiding truth? While no one can claim to be happy all the time, no one is unhappy all the time either. Truly, only ‘positive thinking’ cajoles one to get ahead in life. Failure sets boundaries in some lives while the setback only motivates others to strive much harder. Life is not a simple game of jig-saw puzzle to be solved, wherein you have all the ‘missing parts’ like we do in the game. But then, it is very simple too, in case of many lives. Few as I know need not plan their lives as everything does fall in place at the right moment while that is not the case for many others.

Clayton Christensen, in my opinion, is making an attempt to motivate the young MBA aspirants to think ahead of time and develop foresight, reasoning power as well as cognitive ability. But, it varies from individual to individual as to how he or she will measure his or her life.

Emotional competence matters in career development!

eq and sales

Daniel Goleman writes in his book on ‘Working with Emotional intelligence’ about the role of emotional competence in building a successful career of aspiring professionals in the field of Sales & Marketing.

I quote Daniel Goleman, “I am a hothead,” Sharmayne Williams, a financial advisor at the American Express’s Chicago Office, confides.”I was extremely emotional – I’d take everything to heart and react strongly. It badly affected my relationships with people in the office. If they did not see things my way, I would get mad. It was my way or no way. I could not see it from their perspective and I would not compromise.” The lack of emotional self-control worked against Williams. “It prevented me from moving up; it got in the way of making decisions,” she told me. ” If I was upset about something, I could not move on to the next project.”

Emotional competence or Emotional intelligence have become most commonly used words in today’s training environment. Today, there are ‘career counselling’ specialists who specialize in development of emotional competence among several bright sales professionals who are otherwise lacking in emotional quotient. Tailor made training schedules are being drafted to meet specific requirement of attending training participants. The participants are being programmed in their mind to meet the stringent requirements so as to succeed in challenging globalized market conditions.

One’s behavior plays a vital role in his career development. Your mind controls your behavior knowingly as well as unknowingly. Current generation in the job market are much smarter and are beginning to lead managed lives. Most of the tasks in sales achievement are team oriented and emotional quotient plays a critical role in leading a team or building a team or even to remain as part of the team. Then, you may ask me .. how do marketing mavericks survive or even succeed in such changed situations? A Maverick is an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party. To be honest, A maverick leader does not achieve the group targets in the present times. Though there are exceptions to prove the general rule .. wherein we do find leaders, despite being a maverick, have inspired the team members to achieve unrealistic group goals. But, they are few and numbered.

Another staring reality makes emotional intelligence ever more crucial: As organizations shrink through waves of downsizing to be more effective several teams .. mid-level employees who are hot tempered or even too shy or lacking in communication cannot hide any more under the guise of group performance or group achievement. ‘Head count’ matters a lot in sales oriented organizations whether they are small or big in their size. Each salesperson is a profit center by himself and is expected to deliver as a result of his own merit and efforts. Now, competencies such as managing one’s emotions and moods have become very important in order to continue in the sales job. Most of the sales’ efforts have become largely team oriented and every member is expected to meet the cross-selling sales numbers besides individual targets.

While recruiting sales-force, especially for the mid-level sales positions, I insist on ’emotional competence’ as an important parameter to be necessarily considered. Similarly, during my training assignments that cover behavioral skills & development – more focus is laid upon the emotional quotient of participants.

Is this the right time to quit your job ?

lou adler book

(The dark blue line represents the growth and learning curve of a person taking on a new role. If the job is a good one, there is significant learning and high satisfaction when just starting out. This is represented by the steep part of the curve on the left – Zone 1. If the job does not change much, growth and learning flattens, often at the cost of job satisfaction. This is represented by Zone 2 and the early part of Zone 3. Zone 4 represents declining job satisfaction, attributed to limited growth and learning. (Courtesy: Lou Adler’s latest book on – ‘The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired’ (Workbench, 2013), highlights on ‘performance-based’ hiring process – a methodology adopted by us to shortlist candidates for our client companies)

A good capable professional in Sales & Marketing is naturally concerned about planning his career and taking the right career decisions effectively on time. Playing it absolutely safe and not ever taking a chance to stretch yourself in your capabilities means that in 3-4 years you’ll be exactly the same person as you are today. This will send a signal to the recruitment consultants and hiring managers that you have saturated or plateaued. People who change jobs for the right reasons – to become better at what they do – tend to be stronger, more confident, willing to challenge the status quo, and take on new projects with their existing level of work experience. This is what building confidence and becoming a leader is all about. It happens by taking reasonable risks, not by avoiding them.

As a committed recruitment consultant, I consider myself to be an equal and responsible partner of the job applicants who approach me to build their careers. But, at the same time, I do not recommend excessive job hopping – since every decision or action of yours is consistently followed by corresponding outcome or effect. Naturally, it becomes important to work with an experienced recruitment consultant who knows about the industry/ discipline you are in and who can spend the required effort and time to help you make the right career decision. Call us today to discuss your career aspirations, so that we can build a good career opportunity for you.

Read More:
Why ‘career planning’ is important in recruitment or in job search ?

Why ‘career planning’ is important in recruitment or in job search ?

career planning and recruitment

Career Management is the combination of structured planning and active managing of the choices available in one’s own professional career. The outcome of successful career management should include personal fulfillment, work/life balance, business goal achievement and financial security. The career management process begins with setting realistic goals or objectives. Yes, a relatively specific goal or a career objective must be formulated. This task may be quite difficult when the concerned individual lacks knowledge of career opportunities available and/or is not fully aware of his or her talent and innate abilities. One way to find out – is by utilizing career assessments that serve as a critical step in identifying opportunities and career paths that are most suited with the career-aspirant.

I am particularly excited and eager to deal with job applicants who are well-focused on their personal career goals and know what they want from their working life. Yes I agree, it becomes a challenging task to find the right job for them, but then, it also keeps me well satisfied with my efforts in recruiting. Besides my own satisfaction, there are other reasons to get the ‘Right candidate for the Right job’ ! Firstly, I insist on ensuring that the shortlisted candidate is really committed to avail the job opportunity made available to him. He should not be a Job-hopper, especially as a means of quick financial gain or career advancement.

Another aspect I stress upon is ‘easing off the load’ on the hiring manager in the selection process to find the right candidate. I feel, there is no need to share too many resumes that are not rightly screened by the recruitment consultant. Few resumes (sometimes, just 1 or 2) which meet the exact requirements of the job is enough. The hiring manager does not have the time to peruse through too many resumes or fill up his already busy day interviewing wrong candidates. The screening of job applicants is effective, if the recruitment consultant rightly knows about the industry/ discipline he is hiring for. Correct sourcing and screening is a rare art practiced by a capable recruitment consultant. I am sure that is why a consultant is needed in the first place, because of the valuable time and effort (of the hiring manager) saved by him.

At Rambuna Consultants, we cater our recruitment services to fill up Mid-senior level positions in Sales & Marketing for niche segments mentioned under :

– Office Equipment / Automation
– Consumer Durables / Electronics
– Education / Training
– Information Technology – Hardware / Software
– AV Solutions / Lighting Controls / Security Solutions / CCTV / Access Control
– EPABX Telecom / Mobile Phones (GSM Service providers)
– Retail / FMCG Sector / Media and Entertainment

We realize that you need a recruitment specialist to meet your requirements. Call us Today !