Collins “Good to Great” Leadership


In the book, From Good to Great, author Jim Collins talks about an idea known as Level 5 Leadership theory. The theory discusses a “Level 1-5” leadership model that shows a progression of leadership hierarchy starting with level 1 as a good leader and ending with level 5 as a great leader. Below is an image of the levels and what they consist of:


The book does a great job of illustrating what a level 5 leader is –“an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.” Collins writes that some of the characteristics level 5 leaders possess include: being modest, willful, humble and fearless. Some of these characteristics might not be what we expect to find in some of the top-level leaders. While I was reading this book, I found it quite surprising that characteristics such as cutthroat, direct, and assertive (one would normally think of) weren’t characteristics or main traits of a great leader. However, after reading further I found it made sense given the example of great past presidents such as Abraham Lincoln. What makes level 5 leaders stand out from the rest is how they do not let their ego get the better of them. A level 5 leader puts a company’s success over their own and gives credit to their team when something goes right, and blames themselves when something goes wrong.

Collin’s Leadership Hierarchy and Torbert’s, Seven Transformation of Leadership, can be closely related because the Alchemist and the level five leaders have a high importance for team support and success. Both of these top levels display similar humble attributes, relinquish any ego driven motives and both show that leader can develop more throughout their careers.


I enjoyed reading the “Level 5” chapter in Collins book, From Good to Great, because it made me rethink my views on great leadership. I thought that the best leaders were the people who could affect change through confidence and drive. While I still believe confidence and drive is important; I can also respect the books findings on a more humble leadership approach.

I tend to let my ego get the better of me sometimes and I would like to implement the level 5 approaches to my leadership style. I enjoyed the window and the mirror reference the author explained which was to look out the window to give credit to the outside factor when things go well, and alternatively look in the mirror and take responsibility when things go poorly. I believe that striving for that will mold me into a better leader. Another approach I thought was important (that I will now be thinking of when I get into a leadership role) is to always look for a great successor. Not only is what you do for a company important but whom you leave the company to is also a defining moment as to how great of a leader you were for that company. As I move through the work force, I will be growing in my leadership style as well a implementing the new approaches I got from the reading.