Leading at Level 5

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Jim Collins’ classic Good to Great created a new label for the ultimate leader: Level 5. Here is Collins himself explaining the key difference in a mere 45 seconds:

The essential difference between the Five and Four was surprising. The Five was the anti-thesis of the great egocentric leader. The Five was the leader who operated first and foremost with a genuine humility. But it was humility defined as a burning, passionate, obsessive ambition for the cause … for the company … for the work … not themselves. And they have this utterly stoic will to make good on that ambition.

Now, meet New Balance CEO Rob DeMartini. When you think of superstar CEO’s, his name is not likely on your mental list … and I’m guessing he’s totally fine with that, just as any Level 5 Leader would be. His 47 minute interview with Ryan Hawk on The Learning Leader Show is well worth your time. Here’s a few things that jumped out at me listening to DeMartini speak:

  • his own humility
  • the high value he places on self-awareness
  • focus on what’s most important
  • “we don’t have to be the biggest to be the best”

There is little doubt that New Balance’s impressive period of sustained growth and success is a result of being led by a genuine Level 5 Leader. Anytime you can learn from a leader like that, it’s time well spent.