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Due: 4-12-11

HBS: Level 5 Leadership

WSJ Lt. Withers; WSJ Col. Dowdy

Individuals should be leaders not only in their jobs but also in the driving of their daily life. This is because a leader blends knowledge, skills and internal emotions in order to attain his/her vision previously established instead of only reaching quantitative targets. In fact, being on the helm of a company may be easy, but doing it well or very well is quite difficult in terms of having to the organization a sustained growth and competitive advantages from its competitors. For such, sometimes a leader should take structural and radical decisions to changes by overcoming mediocrity performance and consequently outcomes in his/her firm. By the way, there is a variety of literature about the leadership and its levels, such as according to Jim Collins (2001) in his article “Level 5 Leadership,” there are five levels of leadership, but the level 5 is an executive level wherein leaders, in this hierarchy, carry to their enterprises from “good to great.” 

Although level 5 leadership is very complicated to achieve it, this is possible in so far that leaders have ambition and draw ideas for both: themselves and their companies. They in turn combine quantitative and qualitative aspects. In this sense, quantitative aspects include, among others, financial metrics, turnover, layoffs, and stocks, while qualitative aspects in terms of human treatment. Furthermore, leaders within level 5 leadership have particular traits in their personality for being modest and willful as well as shy and fearless. Above all, they seek the better people for their teamwork as well as seek a good successor for following the entrepreneurial success. Besides, they are participative leaders in agreement to Collins’ slogan: “First who, then what,” which means to get the best “who” into a room and together decide the best “what.” These details on the leadership style do the difference with other ones.

Certainly, a leader is the person who also has a positive and enduring impact on people. This is because his/her leader’s attitudes and behaviors has influenced in persons, such as was the case of John Withers, a U.S. Officer, who helped and decided to take care of “Peewee” and “Salomon” notwithstanding the rigid and tensional circumstances in which John is involved. Likewise, Col. Joe D. Dowdy did another style of leadership. This is because he did not expose to his marines to comply a mission because this was a dangerous military operation in which in so doing would represent risks for him and his marines. In this scenario, the lieutenant said, “in war, you have competing demands between men and mission.” Although he knew about implications by do not comply and disobey superior orders, he took the decision of not doing it by which he was finally fired.

In short, there are a lot ways of doing leadership in any scenario, such as done by John Withers and Joe D. Dowdy, in which such actions in truth should be imitated. Surely, a leader should take strong decisions in which evolve symbiotic relationships between human resources and physical results. For that, leaders should also have the “right people on the bus and wrong people off the bus” for reaching their objectives based on the entrepreneurial vision. Nevertheless, building enduring greatness through “personal humility and professional will,” which are attributes of leaders with a level 5 leadership, is a challenge for managers. This will be attainable when “the window and the mirror” are suitably and coherently seen, and I believe that luck too.


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