We are constantly surrounded by celebrity tales that are often mistaken by real success stories. Reality television, stardom, social media infatuation, have all led to a misinterpretation of what it takes to be prosperous, and it seems like many of those we see as “leaders of our generation” have nothing of the essence of true, high level, leadership.
The images of those we are told we should be emulating blur the reality line between the traits that we should work on, if we want to be leaders, and those we shouldn’t. Traits that we should consider when we are selecting leaders as well.
Per Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, only Level 5 leaders achieve true greatness. Leaders at other levels, of course, can achieve high levels of success, but only these reach the desired level of sustained excellence. These are people who have a “paradoxical blend of humility and professional will” which allows them to continuously take their endeavors to the next level, whether related to business, art, or politics.
What is interesting about the level-5 leader is that every trait compliments the other. Which ultimately means, when you begin to practice one, it’s a gateway to becoming better at another, and so on.
So how exactly do you go from good to great, and how do you recognize greatness in a leader?
“Conscious personal development”: Called like that by Collins himself is, in other terms, a high level of self-awareness and a willingness to be introspective. This in turn allows the leader to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
Hal Elrod’s Life S.A.V.E.R.S system helps us understand what it might take to reach a high level of conscious personal development. Life S.A.V.E.R.S stands for: Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing.
Which leads us to….
You Lack Confidence
A level 5 leader is above all confident in their capacity and their talents, even if they are aware of their limitations. In fact, being aware is what helps them develop the confidence and tools to stay afloat when things get rough. They believe in what they know and what they are capable of learning.
This self-confidence is what allows the true leader to develop and energize people in their company, to see better results.
You’re Not Delegating
Good leaders are great at helping their team succeed and find the answers to problems themselves. By knowing how to delegate work and ask for help, they can recognize when someone might be better at something that they are, and so they will hire top people for their teams.
A “Good-to-great” leader must start with people first, and then move on to their own vision. They determine where someone works best, who doesn’t work in the scheme of their business, and how they can lead everyone in the right direction.
You’re Surrounding Yourself With the Wrong People
It’s true. The greatest leaders surround themselves with people who will bring out the best in them. When you have others around you whose focus is on themselves or other people’s lives instead of their own vision, projects, and their will to make something great, it’s a disincentive to be any different, for those who are near.
According to Mathew Toren, in his article 7 Behaviors of Successful People,”. successful people build a comfortable network of positive, intelligent, and accomplished individuals. Such a network not only eases them into success-building thought patterns and behaviors, but also offers them a place to brainstorm and receive support.
You Don’t Practice Diligence
These are people who are incredibly disciplined when it comes to their work. If they commit to something, they will stick to it to see it through, and they will do so with quiet determination.
This leader demonstrates unwavering resolve. They will do what they must to get the best long-term results.
You’re Blaming Others
A great leader can take full responsibility for his or her mistakes if they should, and knows when to give someone else the credit when they deserve it. They don’t look to point fingers when something is wrong, but instead, use their introspective and observational skills to pin-point what it is that went wrong and solve it.
Luck, or any external factor as a matter of fact, is not to blame.
You’re Too Into Yourself
This is the knot that ties it all together. These attributes are great traits for any kind of leader, but what makes these types of leaders the most successful is their humility and modesty when it comes to their work and their personal lives.
Collins even points out that many of these leaders are shy, but still highly driven. They don’t boast about their accomplishments, in fact, these “larger than life” leaders we continuously see on TV are not what he would consider great leaders. Level-5 leaders don’t put the focus on themselves but rather on the vision; on their company’s contribution to the world.
“In reality, humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking less about yourself,” says Aaron Orendorff, contributor at Entrepreneur magazine. “Accepting that you did something wrong or that you don’t know everything, foregoes ego for the sake of personal development and business growth. Asking for help not only displays a willingness to learn but empowers others to shine.”