Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Things To Aspire To

It is hardly a military secret that for the most part, professional development rests with the person. This is one of the reasons that we decided long ago to form an alliance with the Harvard Business Review in order to provide it as a resource to our members. Anyone who has been around business for any length of time is well aware of the quality of what they publish.

Thanks to this resource, and to my partner Mark Anderson, I recently had the chance to read a piece by Jim Collins (the same Jim Collins who wrote the current best-seller, From Good to Great) titled, Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. When Mark first passed it along suggesting it might be a good article to blog about, I thought, maybe that was just a nice way of saying that there was a message in it for me, and that I needed to "shape up," but I didn't need an article to tell me that. Indeed, at my age, I figure I am so far beyond repair that all the articles in the world wouldn't help much. Once I read the piece, however, I agreed with Mark that it had much to say to anyone, no matter where they might be in their career.

The debate on the subject of whether leaders are born or made may run second only to the debates that rage around Big Bang theories, stem cell research, abortion rights, the pros and cons of the Yankees trying to buy championships, and trying to determine if "Fair and Balanced" is an accurate tag line for Fox news. In other words, it is a debate that is not likely to be decided anytime soon.

That being said, it doesn't mean that people are not still very interested in the subject, and continually try to break the code. In this article, Collins says he can't break that code, but he does say that of the 1,435 companies that appeared on the Fortune 500 since 1965, only 11 made it onto the list of companies that had level 5 leaders at the time that the companies faced a pivotal time in their history. It is fascinating stuff.

In the face of such stats, it makes it pretty clear that the odds of any of us making it to a level 5 are pretty remote, but with the information that he shares in this article in terms of the characteristics of a level 5, anyone who aspires to a leadership role or who is in a leadership role and is committed to trying to improve his/her performance as a leader would do well to invest the time to read what Prof. Collins has to say.

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