“Evolved” Leaders in an Era of Self-Interested Leadership

Jim Collins

Jim Collins

As the U.S. anticipates new political leadership and an unprecedented executive style, it’s valuable to reflect on popular wisdom from management literature.

Organizations that are “built to last” are guided by “Level 5 Executives,” argued Jim Collins in Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t.
This style of leadership requires both personal humility and personal will, and may be a combination not favored during the current US political transition.

Collins proposed a developmental leadership hierarchy including:

  • Level 1 Highly Capable Individual, who applies knowledge, skills, abilities, and commitment to achieve team goal,
  • Level 2:   Contributing Team Member, who contributes to team goal achievement through effective collaboration,
  • Level 3Capable Manager, who sets plans and organizes others to achieve goals,
  • Level 4Effective Executive, who inspires others to act toward the shared vision,
  • Level 5:  Level 5 Executive combines personal will to achieve the organizational improvement goal, tempered with personal humility.
    The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potentia
Modesto Maidique

Modesto Maidique

Drawing on developmental psychology theories by Jean Piaget as well as Harvard’s Lawrence Kohlberg, and Robert Kegan, Florida International University’s former President, Modesto A. Maidique proposed a six-level Purpose-Driven Model of Leadership

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget

Leadership is service to others, organizations, and ideals, he proposed, and levels of leadership may be evaluated by whom leaders serve:

  • Level One: Sociopath, who serves no one and exhibits low empathy and generally destroys value, himself, and others.
    Well-known examples are Muammar Gaddafi, Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.
Lawrence Kohlberg

Lawrence Kohlberg

  • Level Two: Opportunist, who serves himself or herself, often at the expense of others by focusing on:  “What’s in it for me?” Examples include Bernie Madoff and Jeffrey Skilling.
  • Level Three: Chameleon, who “flip-flop” to cater to many people as possible.
    Examples include Senator John Kerry, former Florida governor Charlie Crist, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Robert Kegan

Robert Kegan

  • Level Four: Achiever, who is often “successful” business executives, when measured by achieving business goals through energetic focus on goal achievement.
    Peter Drucker characterized them as “monomaniac with a mission“, driving toward a goal without fully considering the broader mission.
    Examples include former H-P CEO Mark Hurd.Purpose-Driven Model of Leadership
  • Level Five: Builder, who seeks to build an institution, not just to achieve a goal.
    Examples include IBM’s Tom Watson Jr., GM’s Alfred P. Sloan, and Harpo’s Oprah Winfrey.
    These people have a clear vision, energize others, and manage for the long term and not swayed by short-term profit or stock market valuations.
  • Level Six: Transcendent, who transcend their affiliations to focus on broader social benefit. Examples include Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Dalai Lama.

These frameworks provide a structure to evaluate the words and actions of current political and business leaders, and suggest potential stylistic vulnerabilities.

-*What level of leader do you observe in the highest levels of your work organization?
-*What practices are you implementing to develop your next level of leadership skill?

Twitter: @kathrynwelds
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Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

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2 thoughts on ““Evolved” Leaders in an Era of Self-Interested Leadership

  1. Pingback: Leadership Qualities that Lead to the Corner Office? | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

  2. Pingback: Leadership “From the Inside Out” | Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

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