Levels of Leadership and Quotes that go with it

There are a lot of voices and opinions about what leadership is and every one of them would agree that we need high-quality leaders in today’s society.

My thinking about leadership does not add anything spectacularly new to the conversation. I am more interested in how do we get or become the high-quality leaders our world need.  Some years ago, in his classic book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins introduced the concept of a level 5 leader as a description of a high-quality leader. This framework helped me in my thinking, and as I am sorting and clarifying the concept for myself, I would like to share some quotes as thinking points and conversation starters. Let me know what you think.


The five levels if Leadership

Level 1: Highly Capable Individual. At this level, you make high-quality contributions with your work. You possess useful levels of knowledge, and you have the talent and skills needed to do a good job. This level is mostly inward focused on self-leadership.

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” –  Albert Schweitzer

Level 2: Contributing Team Member. At Level 2, you use your knowledge and skills to help your team succeed. You work effectively, productively and successfully with other people in your group

“A leadership position is one that requires many different skills. It is an activity that is sometimes hard to measure, but the results of the team will determine the leader’s success.” – Catherine Pulsifer

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton

Level 3: Competent Manager. Here, you’re able to organize a group efficiently to achieve specific goals and objectives.

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want to be done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight Eisenhower

“The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants to be done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Level 4: Effective Leader. Level 4 is the category that most top leaders fall into. Here, you’re able to galvanize a department or organization to meet performance objectives and achieve a vision.

“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.” – Orrin Woodward

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

Level 5: Great Leader. At Level 5, you have all of the abilities needed for the other four levels, plus you have the unique blend of humility and will that are required for real greatness.

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. – Nelson Mandela.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor but without folly.” – Jim Rohn

One of the best paradoxes of leadership is a leader’s need to be both stubborn and open-minded. A leader must insist on sticking to the vision and stay on course to the destination. But he must be open-minded during the process. – Simon Sinek

and finally, a surprising yet powerful summery:

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte


3 Steps 2 Authentic Leadership

The world we live in yearns for authentic leadership. We are tired of empty promises from leaders that protect the status qua. A status qua where only the elite few benefit. Beneath our addiction to a consuming life style, we yearn for realness.

So let us stop yearning. Let us become authentic leaders ourselves and create the change we want.

Allow me to share, what I think, are 3 important building blocks in becoming an authentic leader.

1. Know yourself

To be authentic you have to know who you are authentic about. Sounds a bit like stating the obvious, but there is a significant center to this.

Authenticity asks that we accurately distinguish between the persona or mask we use and who we really are. Our persona act like shields that we present to the outside world. They are our first line of defense against possible harm. They are useful in that they create space for us in which we can choose how to act authentically.

That said we also need to be aware of the traps associated with these persona. One trap is over identification were we can start believing we are our persona. People overly identify with what they project to others, attaching unhealthy importance to the acceptance of these persona (for example you would rather be dead than be seen without designer label clothes). Secondly these persona can be ineffective. A person can assume a persona of being weak and incompetent, thinking they need to manipulate people to get what they want, or the opposite, having a persona of being so strong and that nothing touches us so we do not need anybody’s help. Persona that harm us on the long run are unhealthy. So we need to distinguish between them and our true self.

Our true self is our beautiful self. This self is the scared self, the self that offers our unique strengths to the world in servitude, fully acknowledging the risk that this service will not always be appreciated. This self knows its limitations and thrives in the space that these limitations create.

Authentic leaders live from their true self.

2. Have a clear vision

Authentic leaders have a vision of what can be. They see a future with possibilities. They have a deep knowing that today’s reality is not all there is. They understand that in the greater evolution of the universe, change is the only constant. They harness this slow and sure force to bring about improvement.

They also understand that sustainable change, is change were everybody benefits from. Therefore they resist the natural pull of accepting that “this is as good as it gets”. They also accept the responsibility of changing for the improvement of all. Even when reality shouts accusations of insanity.

Martin Luther King had a dream; Nelson Mandela understood the future reality of a multiracial South Africa. These leaders lived with a faith that compelled and captured them to create the new reality they saw.

3. Know and use the power of vulnerability

Vulnerability is the twin sister of authenticity. They are the two sides of the same coin.

Paradoxically authentic leaders also acknowledge their own weakness. They are honest about their doubts and they looked for the courage to share it appropriately. And in this vulnerability, sharing their doubts and fears, they offer people the chance to join them in driving the change everybody seeks.

Every authentic leader is afraid. Fear is our friend. It wants to protect us. But it also keeps us in the same place. Sometimes we need to proceed in the face of fear. For on the other side of our fear is the strength we yearn for, on the other side of that which we fear is our liberation.

Being vulnerable does not equal weakness. Inside vulnerability lays a deep core strength. One that knows that hurting is temporally, a strength that stakes its life on the ability to bounce back no matter what. This strength taps into the deep knowledge that things change and that change brings renewal, second chances, and the ability to try again. This strength strangely liberates us from hurting. It allows us to be our true self; it gives us the courage to follow our dream as it cuts off the strings that hold us back.

With vulnerability

Think in December, thrive in January

Most people are counting the days until they can finally close their 2012 diaries. The time of rest revitalises our bodies and provides the ideal opportunity to revitalise our imagination. Spending some thinking time on your business can ensure that you thrive in January while others are still in denial about being back at work.

Business Success Strategist Gina Mostert* shares insightful questions you may want to ask yourself:

Do you think like a leader – Do you have a positive and winning mindset, i.e. know how to gain confidence to step out of your comfort zone and take personal responsibility for achieving your ideal business or career vision?

Do you look like a leader — Do you have a powerful and appropriate professional or personal brand, i.e. dress for success, look like you mean business, and command the respect and credibility you deserve?

Do you communicate like a leader – How do you rate your presentation, public speaking and boardroom skills – i.e. do you use both your verbal and non-verbal communication skills to persuade and effectively bring across the message?

Do you network like a leader – What are you doing to build lasting and long-term relationships where you will be known, liked and trusted – i.e. who are you associating with, how are you connecting with them and how do you nurture these relationships?

According to a Fortune 500 survey, successful leaders spend almost half of their productive time (48%) networking, whilst effective leaders only spend an average of 11% of their time networking. Makes you think!

Do you take action like a leader – You know that your actions (or non-action) will determine your results and subsequent success, so how are you taking charge of your professional or business destiny – i.e. are you creating and developing habits that are serving you as a professional?

Envision your desired 2013 and then use your imagination to come up with innovative answers to these questions. And then enjoy reaching for your new diary.

* Gina Mostert is a Business Consultant and Coach and the owner of Inovizion (www.inovizion.co.za).


SCARF: A shelter for the brain

Successful engagements with your clients or employees is closely linked to knowing how to satisfy their social needs.  Social needs are perceived by the brain as important as basic needs like food or shelter.  When these social needs are not met, we feel threatened.  On the other hand we experience a sense of reward when our social needs are met.  A reward emotion will draw a person in and ensure engagement, where a feeling of being threatened causes one to avoid a situation or person.

When your employee experiences a reward emotion, they will be more creative and show increased problem-solving skills.  It also stimulates deep thinking and positive emotions. This employee will be more willing to stretch herself beyond what she would normally be willing to take on.  Unfortunately, a sense of being threatened seems to be the default response in teams.  In a team setting it is therefore even more important to ensure reward emotions.

The SCARF model is used in Life, Business and Team Coaching to diminish a threat response and optimize positive reward emotions.  This acronym stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness.

Status relates to our relative importance, where we feel extremely threatened when we feel less important than someone else or being left out. We even feel better when we feel that we are becoming better than we were previously.  Learning and developing satisfy this need.

Our brain has a constant need to predict the immediate future.  Uncertainty decreases one’s ability to focus.  Giving your client enough information creates certainty and therefore willingness to engage with you. Make sure your clients and employees has the answer to the question “What is going to happen next?”

Autonomy is about having choices and a sense of control. We often hear about people leaving the corporate environment in search of a life where they have increased control over their life.  Creating an environment where employees feel that they have choices will contribute to an engaged workforce.

Are you my friend or my enemy?  This is the need for relatedness; knowing whether another person is “someone like me”.  Research has shown that people place the most trust in information they get from someone they feel connected to.  This increases trust.  Information received from such a person is processed by the brain using the same circuits as the ones processing one’s own thoughts.  Therefore you want to foster a sense of connectedness among colleagues.  You also want your client to feel that you share similarities.  Allowing people to share information about themselves contributes to a feeling of connectedness, especially if similarities are found. Mentoring, buddy systems and working in small groups also contributes to relatedness.

The perception of fairness or lack thereof elicits very strong emotions and reactions.  Consistency helps to increase a sense of fairness.  Perceived unfairness can be due to a lack of knowledge and transparency can help to correct these perceptions.  Establishing clear expectations from your clients and employees and making sure these are met will also contribute to engagement and positive emotions.

Satisfying the social needs of your employees and clients has a significant impact on them. When you find ways to increase their sense of importance, certainty, having choices, feeling connected and being treated fairly; the effect will be extremely satisfying both ways.