Coach Talk Column: Taking leadership to the next level

Coach Talk Column: Taking leadership to the next level.

Then I explained to him the concept of five-level leadership based on research done by former Gallup senior researcher Jim Collins, which became a best-seller reprinted article of Harvard Business Review.


Level 1 leadership: a highly capable individual who makes productive contributions to the team through talent, knowledge, skills and work habits. This kind of leader is a “superwoman” who tends to do everything herself; she is the centre of the universe. If she disappeared tomorrow, the team wouldn’t survive.

Level 2 leadership: a contributing team member who works effectively with his team members and contributes to the achievement of a team’s objectives. He tends to work hand-in-hand with his subordinates on the shop-floor level. We almost cannot distinguish the leader from his followers, because he blends in with the rest of the team perfectly. If he disappeared tomorrow, the team would still survive.

Level 3 leadership: a competent manager who organises people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives. The strength of this leader is that if you give her a very clear vision and expectation, she will be able to work with her team to deliver good results. However, she will not be as successful working without direction and guidance. She tends to be a good manager rather than a visionary leader.

Level 4 leadership: an effective leader who catalyses commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision; stimulates the group to high performance standards. The leader decides on direction and then gets people to implement his vision. He is known as a charismatic, strong and tough-to-work-with leader who is both hard on people and targets.

Level 5 leadership: an executive who builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. Instead of promoting her own visions, the leader gets her best people together and grills them with penetrating questions to draw new strategies out of them. She is known as a leader who is hard on numbers and soft on people.

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