In Search of Level 5 Leadership … still

In 2001 and again in 2005, Jim Collins wrote about the attributes and characteristics of what makes for great leadership.  In his book Good to Great, he articulates the 5 levels of leadership, culminating with the absolute top being the individuals who could take companies, turn them around, and bring them to a position of market leaders.  I had initially intended to write about this on my business blog (because it is worth repeating and referencing over again), and then as I was reviewing my notes, etc., it occurred to me that I want that exact same caliber in the President of the United States.  Nothing less.   Here are the 5 levels of leadership as defined by Collins.

1. Highly Capable Individual:  Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills and good work habits,

2. Contributing Team Member: Contributes to the achievement of group objectives; works effectively with others in a   group setting,

3.Competent Manager: Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives,

4. Effective Leader: Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision; stimulates the group to a high performance standards,

5. Executive: Builds enduring greatess through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will.

Got it?  Personal humility plus professional will.

So I am going to write about the political landscape right now.  For instance, Newt Gingrich.  IMHO Newt Gingrich suffers from extreme conceit and hubris.  Regardless of the fact he may have some really good ideas… one has to cut through the arrogance to get to any quality material.  His appeal lessened as his arrogance, condescension and hubris increased (or became visible).  Big turnoff.

“The great irony is that the animus and personal ambition that often drives people to become a Level 4 Leader stands at odds with the humility required to rise to Level 5.”  (HBR, 2005)

I expect my president to be a Level 5.  I want that personal humility coupled with some damn good business sense and a set of interpersonal skills that permits you to successfully imbue your constituents with a sense of confidence.  That has not happened for me in many years.  Enough with the on-the-job-training.  Where’s the meat?

I know it distresses some folk that I am not a fan of Obama, despite the fact that I have very liberal leanings.  Why would I? He does not possess – for me – the qualities that I am looking for in a President … of the United States …or in business.  I have worked with and for – a lot of executives over the years. Some were so full of themselves that they had no room for anything else.  Their arrogance and conceit was staggering.  I would watch these *leaders* proclaim their value, their significance and their importance.  I also watched their replacement say the same thing. (ahem).

In fact, in 13 years, I had 15 different *executive managers* … who got their jobs mostly because they were part of the *new deal* and were friends of someone in a high authority.  We used to joking use a fill-in-the-blank.  Meet ___ ____ “friend of ______” whoever was at the helm.  Of the 15 executive managers I worked with and for, only a handful had the ethics that I thought was truly admirable, and I felt honored to learn from and work with, them.  None of them were President of the United States material.

Now let’s talk about Obama.  He is quick to regurgitate the ills of the previous administration (now in his 4th year) and how they all contributed to the problems we are experiencing TODAY.  Not him, not his decisions, it’s always the other guys fault.  He may possess the sparkling repartee to be what some might consider witty when he is questioned about something… but in these 4 years I have gone from hoping for the best to sick of the SOS.  I turn him off now, just like I did Bush.  He isn’t a businessman and possesses no real knowledge (first hand) of what it takes to make a business work.  He was a community organizer.  I felt he was a lightweight to start (and I am going to be doing a deep dive into his practical experience.  Meaning, he has experience first hand.  In many ways, he reminds me of a conversation I had with my own mom.  We were talking about the traits, characteristics, talent that is passed down through the generations – and I said “Ma, how come when I do something great its because I got that from this relative or that from another relative but when I screw up, that’s all mine?
In other words — Obama using the haunt that our current day ills are hangovers from 5 years ago… that doesn’t say much for the change that has been made.  The fact that he would close his eyes to global wrongs that are taking place and put a floodlight on others of lesser significance, shocks me.  I expect my president to be able to say IMHO – as President – your actions are wrong.  If he can’t  then he needs to get another job.  But most important – of what I do know about Obama and path to the White House, nothing made him qualified as Illinois Senatorial candidate in 2004 to President of the United States – in 4 years.  He must have one helluva angel on his shoulder – or he had really good help.

I am sick and tired of dealing with BS artists – in business and in politics.  I have heard more succession speeches that I care to.  I have seen rotational mgmt. teams as a result of poor performance — that are just compounded by much of the same.  When they are all standing *center stage* what they say sounds good.  It includes all the right things.  Their speech has been worked and reworked with key words and triggers to evoke the response they desire.  It always sounds rehearsed because it is rehearsed.

There is no way Obama gained enough knowledge to be a great (or even good) president.  4 years?  Who decided to start grooming this young man?  Who decided that he would change the playing field? Someone did.  He went from being a Senatorial Candidate to President in 4 years. He had no experience other than limited in a community organizer capacity. I need to believe it was something other than his being a man of color that made him a *potential* candidate material.  I feel Obama was part of the DNC succession planning, vetting of potential *high performers* (just like the RNC is already looking at their future prospects and *high performers*).  I believe he was selected early on, groomed and promoted as the acronym for change.  I do not feel he has been a good president and certainly do not feel he possess the characteristics that a Level 5 Leader has.

But not to make this about just Obama… I did not care for Rick Santorium (sp?), I haven’t even considered Romney as of this writing, though I  did like – initially – Herman Cain – because of what I did know, I felt he had his hand on the pulse.  Unfotunately he was in to taking the pulse of others too.  Bad.  Just plain ol bad.  Here’s my two cents advice to current candidates and future candidates.  If you even suspect SLIGHTLY that you may want to run for public office… understand that your life – your actions, your decisions or non-decisions – will be examined (as they should be).  The Presidency is something of a fabulous thing we have.  We’re giving someone the opportunity to do what is in OUR BEST INTEREST.  Not drive it into the ground like so many Level 4 Leaders who destroy companies with bad management decisions and an over inflated sense of importance.  ENOUGH.

I personally feel that anyone who serves more than 1 term in any position becomes a politician.  Not a democrat, not a republican… a politician as in the days of antiquity.  Career politicians – living off the people… who have kept them in the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to.

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