Level 5 Leaders: As Told by Will Sullivan

The Hierarchy of Leadership 

Everyone in his or her life is a leader. Some leaders are great, some are not so good. A Strategic Leader is someone who uses their skills, knowledge, and ability to bring about the best outcome for a group of people. They work smart in order to motivate and collaborate others to complete a task/goal. A great leader takes on all  levels of the Level 5 Hierarchy of Leadership portrayed by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great. These Levels are:

Level 1: Highly Capable Individual- Makes productive contribution through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits.

Level 2: Contributing Team Member- Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in a group setting.

Level 3: Competent Manager- Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives.

Level 4: Effective Leader- Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance standards.

Level 5: Level 5 Executive- Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. (Collins 20).

Level 5 Leaders put their egos behind them and focus on the outcome of the group. “They are incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves” (Collins 21).

A Hunger for Success

A time in my life when I showed Level 5 leadership was my senior year when I was captain of the Gilmour Academy’s high school basketball team. Our team was filled with talent due to 10 returning hardworking seniors hungry for success. The year before, the team was divided due to selfish players. This caused a lack of teamwork on and off the court. Going into the season I was determined to make a change and build a more close knit, collaborative team. I did this by exemplifying Level 5 Leadership.

Learning from the previous years, I knew I had to stop worrying about my performance and keep my focus on the team. My focus changed from fretting about the amount of points I scored or how many minutes I was playing to encouraging my teammates to perform to the best of their ability. There were games where I was completely off my game so the coach sat me down but this did not take away my energy. I made sure the players on the bench were amped up as we cheered on our teammates. I would encourage my teammates to spend time after practice and hone in on their dribbling and shooting skills.

Be Humble, Not Selfish 

By being a humble leader and putting my teammates first I was able to set an example for other players to be less selfish. We started to mesh well together as a team and encouraged each other to keep striving for success. We ended the season tying the best record in school history finishing 23-2. At the end of the season everyone on the team was a leader because we all put the teams objective first and that was to win together.

Harry Truman once said, “You can accomplish anything in life provided you do not mind who gets the credit.”

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