The Traits of a True Leader

  By: Angeline Lawrence
Leadership is crucial to the vitality of any business or organization. Companies that were transformed from regional companies to being national powerhouses had Chief Executive Officers who were classified as Level 5 leaders.
Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great: Why some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” defined such leadership as Humility + Will.  These leaders seek to empower their employees and deny their own egos for the advancement of others. His research proved the CEOs who were major personalities instead of Level 5 Leaders had underperforming companies.
Another thought leader, John C. Maxwell defines a leader as, "True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader." In other words, if you consider yourself to be great among your peers then you should be a servant.
Jim Collins is a great thought leader in the business world. He took several years to study and interview CEOs and board members. He analyzed the data to find out how the companies go from being mediocre to being great companies with global brands.
The book uncovers the common thread that each CEO possessed who was at the helm of those companies during their transition. Attributes of a Level 5 leader as explained by Jim Collins include the following:
  1. They are self-confident enough to set up their successors for success.
  2. They are humble and modest.
  3. They have "unwavering resolve."
  4. They display a "workmanlike diligence - more plow horse than show horse."
  5. They give credit to others for their success and take full responsibility for poor results. They "attribute much of their success to 'good luck' rather than personal greatness."
These leaders build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.  The leaders Mr. Collins studied were humble and some were even awkward. They worked quietly behind the scenes and if there was any failure they took personal responsibility. They were goal oriented with the passion and the drive to push the company forward, without a personal agenda.  
Their desire was for the company to thrive because it was the right thing to do. It requires a lot of humility for a leader not to take the credit for the exponential growth that occurs in their company during their tenure.
Oprah Winfrey sums it up best. She states, “…when you choose the paradigm of service, looking at life through that paradigm, it turns everything you do from a job into a gift.”  
Angeline Lawrence is a writer and workplace strategist who provides  tools, tips and resources for women to overcome adversity in the workplace. She publishes the Shine Now Magazine and is the Amazon best-selling author of Positioned for Power: The Working Woman’s Guide to Thriving In Life, which shares her secrets to overcome bullying and adversity in the workplace.

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