Level 5 Leadership: Meaning and Types

A common quality that runs through every successful leader is that they never keep themselves first. Similarly, some qualities distinguish a great leader from a good leader. Leaders work to fulfil the company’s goal, whereas great leaders showcase skills like compassion, empathy, emotional intelligence, and others that differentiate them from the rest.

An American researcher named Jim Collins discovered the concept of ‘level 5 leadership’ that reiterated leadership meaning and established the difference between good leaders and great leaders. In his book ‘Good to Great’, Collins revealed the five levels of leadership that demonstrate the journey of a great leader.

In this article, we will discuss level 5 leadership and its benefits in detail. Continue reading to understand the concept of level 5 leadership.

What is Level 5 Leadership?

Level 5 leadership is accredited to the success of great leaders. It is a concept coined by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. Through a comprehensive study, Collins discovered that some qualities distinguish a good leader from a great leader, and derived the concept of level 5 leadership, a unique combination of personal humility and professional will. To understand the meaning of level 5 leadership, it is important to know the hierarchy that defines the concept. Read below to know about the different levels of the popular leadership concept.

What Are the Five Levels of Level 5 Leadership?

As mentioned earlier, the concept was to create a paradigm to test good and great leadership. For this, Collins concocted five levels of great leadership – highly capable individual, contributing team member, competent manager, effective leader, a great leader that converts a good leader into a great leader.

He believed that a leader has to go through these five levels of leadership to become a great leader. Once a leader passes through these five levels, they have reached the pinnacle of leadership. Here are the five levels of level 5 leadership:

Highly capable individual

At this level of leadership, a leader’s dedication and conviction towards their job are acknowledged and praised. A leader who makes high-quality contributions to the company is categorized into this level.

Contributing team member

Effective and talented leaders who collaborate with their team to get the best results are categorized in this level. Leaders, in this stage, use their skills and knowledge to encourage and motivate group members to work in alignment with the company’s goals and objectives. At this level of leadership, leaders and their teamwork as one entity devoid of conflict and dealignment of priorities.

Competent manager

Although the definitions of a leader and manager are starkly different, there are times when a leader imbibes the characteristics of a manager. For instance, a leader leads the team to a goal, delegates responsibilities, and tracks performance and growth. The leader is vicariously performing similar functions to that of a manager.

Effective leader

Leaders who are determined and motivated to track their team’s performance, goals and growth are categorized in this level. In addition, a leader who tries to meet their team’s performance with the company’s vision falls under this category. Finally, an effective leader directs his team to work hard and try to meet their personal goals and that of the company.

Great leader

A leader who has a unique blend of empathy and humility to achieve greater heights personally and professionally can be categorized into this level.

A leader who completes all five levels of leadership is referred to as a great leader. Collins, in his book, described a great leader as someone who is –

  • Consistent in performance
  • Capable of transforming companies
  • An ordinary person with extraordinary capabilities

Furthermore, there have been different types of leadership that have been prevalent for a long time. However, Collins’s level 5 leadership is unlike others; it defines leaders as the face of change in an organization. It is also important for leaders to have personal humility and professional will to become great leaders. Continue reading to know how these leadership qualities can be instrumental in the process of becoming a great leader.

How ‘Personal Humility’ and ‘Professional Will’ Will Help You Become a Great Leader?

Level 5 leadership is the gold standard of leadership that many novices aspire to become. However, becoming a great leader is no child’s play. Compassion and resilience are the leadership qualities that you essentially require to succeed. We’ve put together some must-have leadership qualities that will help you become a level 5 leader.

● Personal humility
A humble leader is open to suggestions and incites innovation and creativity among his team members. So, develop humility as a must-have skill to become a great leader and instigate a positive change among the team members through growth, promotion, and others.

● Professional will
Level 5 leaders are strong-willed individuals capable of sticking to their decision. They motivate team members to achieve goals and incite personal growth. Leaders are more like a mentor than managers; they communicate and understand their team’s personal goals and help in achieving them.

● Passionate
Passion drives level 5 leaders to do what they do. It helps them perform their responsibilities excellently and go beyond the prescribed to help achieve the company’s goal and ensure employees’ personal growth. Their passion is never dying and infectious, transcending to their team and companies.

● Responsible
There are times when things turn out different than planned. A normal leader might pin the failure on their team or other external factors. However, a level 5 leader takes responsibility for the failure and works to reverse it. Moreover, they also take responsibility for the team’s or company’s failure.

● Finding the right people
Level 5 leaders derive energy from the people around them. So, they invest most of their resources in recruiting the team’s right people who share the same vision and are as compassionate and determined as them.

There are no shortcuts to becoming a great leader. Leadership qualities like compassion, empathy, and humility can help a good manager become the best. However, having the right leadership qualities are not the only prerequisite to becoming a great manager. The path to great leadership begins with a professional degree or a certificate programme in leadership. You can take up any of the leadership development programmes to gain in-depth knowledge about different types of leadership and other important aspects, acquire new skills and hone your existing skills.

Emeritus India offers numerous leadership development programmes in collaboration with renowned Indian and international institutes. Enrol yourself in one of the certification programmes and equip yourself with the necessary leadership skills and knowledge to become a successful leader.

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