Jim Collins introduced “Level 5 Leadership” as a powerful way to take a company from Good to Great and characterized the highest level of leadership as HUMILITY + WILL. Both HUMILITY and WILL are behaviors, which exist at the surface of Level 5 leadership. Many institutions try to build Level five leadership through either behavioral modification or EQ training, both of which are psychological tools. Do internal structures matter in Level five leadership building? Can one tool solve all problems? These principles apply to both leaders and talent.
Beneath the surface of HUMILITY + WILL lie a healthy Ego, a deep understanding of life, a big dream, extraordinary abilities and other integrated internal structures. Individuals with a healthy Ego typically accept themselves, can focus on the big picture, and have no need to seek satisfaction through pathological behaviors that will backfire later. Humility reflects a healthy Ego but is NOT the only reflection. Those who understand that success requires the right time, the right place and hard-working can easily understand and respect others. These individuals can direct their energy efficiently to pursue their big dream. Extraordinary abilities combined with other characteristics will increase their chances of success. In fact, many leaders who are great public speakers and somewhat self-centered also share these great features, for example, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Behavior Approach is a great tool for leadership development, but like any other tool it has its limits and cannot solve every underlying problem. For example, individuals can be HUMBLE because of a weak Ego, which stems from unsuccessful bids to gain parental approval during childhood. The parents are usually busy or are indifferent to the child. Behavior therapy can enhance their HUMILITY, but cannot build the powerful WILL needed to overcome various hurdles. However, with the right tools, it takes only days to help individuals stop seeking parental approval. It is better to identify the underlying cause(s) and target the issues precisely to achieve fast and lasting results.
In addition to a healthy Ego, WILL is closely linked to confidence that is built on vision, knowledge, learning, resources, health, and more. When confidence wanes, WILL will be threatened. For example, a young business owner suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and became extremely frustrated by the necessity to re-learn EVERYTHING. He often called 911 as his stress management tool. Once transported to the Emergency Room (ER), he yelled at the doctors and nurses there. I recovered myself from TBI via a similar path and was doing a residency rotation in the ER the day when this young man came in. I understood his frustration, so I walked to him, discussed with him his progress and offered my own real life success in overcoming the challenges associated with TBI. He thanked me in the end, and the ER nurses later told me that his ER visit that day was his shortest and most pleasant, and he never came back again.
Business is rife with unexpected challenges, setbacks, and uncertainty, all of which can be more stressful than the challenges the above business owner has faced. Both HUMILITY and WILL can reflect the underlying structure and mainly belong to Emotional Quotient (EQ), an essential component of leadership. Those who act rashly under stress or uncertainty often have high EQs. To stay focused, individuals need the right tools to meet challenges, manage stress and handle setbacks and failures. One powerful tool is to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, either through their own resources or outside experts, which requires more than EQ.
Underestimated for decades, EQ is now overestimated, as if it is the only factor that matters in leadership development. In fact, many factors can affect EQ, either positively or negatively. Why? Each person is an integrated system of abilities, health, and their relationships with themselves and society. Each person is an integrated system of 6 Quotients that determine their directions and actions (Intelligent Q), help them stay updated (Learning Q), govern relationships with others (Emotional Q), maximize their results in society (Public influence Q), remain resilient in the face of adversity (AQ) and keep their energy level (Health Q). EQ is only a part of the integrated system, and, therefore, issues can come from IQ, LQ, PQ, AQ or HQ over which EQ or behavior has little or no power. How the young business owner acted before and after his last ER visit is a good example.
It takes great industrial or cross-industrial knowledge and instinct (IQ) to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It takes tenacity, problem-solving skills, learning, energy (AQ, IQ, LQ, and HQ) and more to see the light when facing setbacks and failures. Because he and other ER doctors were not sufficiently familiar with Traumatic Brain Injury recovery, the young business owner couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. As time passed, his EQ became vulnerable. It is due to this same mechanism that some former high achievers develop “Learned Depression” after a series of failures. However, the business owner did not stay at home, depressed. He called 911 to go to the ER where I happened to be, and he regained his EQ power once I helped him see the light at the end of the tunnel. EQ can help an individual see the light and maximize resources and market share; however, EQ alone is usually not enough. Can Behavior Modification help him? No, because behavior approach cannot address root causes.
The internal structures of Level 5 leadership include a healthy ego that facilitates self-acceptance and the focus on the big picture, a deep understanding of human nature that fosters respect for others, a big dream that focuses energy, extraordinary abilities and more to leverage full power, maximize results and bounce back from adversity. Individuals with Level 5 leadership style often can see the light at the end of the tunnel when facing with uncertainty, either leveraging their own or external resources, so they have a strong WILL. They do not waste energy because of their healthy egos and a deep understanding of human nature (HUMILITY). People with Level 5 leadership style not only choose the right successor, but also use right people and create positive environments within their companies and society. As a result, they maximize their results and save even more energy. Individuals with Level five leadership are open to new ideas and new technologies, so they can stay on the right track and spend their energy and money more and more efficiently.
To develop Level 5 leadership style, individuals need not only key elements, but EVERY element to maintain internal stability and optimal performance. What sustains their stability and optimal condition can change as their environments change. Unfortunately, it only takes ONE element in one single process to break the whole system. The above young business owner is a good example. Weaknesses can be poor blind spot management of decision-making, under-utilization of new technology, poor reactions to adversity, etc. The insufficient elements may not affect their performance management today, but can be significant enough to impede them tomorrow when the environment changes. This is why we need to catch the development needs of a leader before “the 360 Degree evaluation” to Go from Good to Great and Optimize Top Team Performance Efficiently.
“Can He Handle the Job?” is a good example of developmental needs that are insignificant today but significant tomorrow. “All-in” intensity does not surface until individuals have to face all issues related to an organization on a daily base. Those who die of stress-related health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, and suicide, are good examples of individuals who ultimately pay the price for matters that seem insignificant now but have a cumulative impact. Consequently, it is important to anticipate the development needs of a leader in the face of change and target the needs precisely with the right tools. If leaders can maintain optimal performance, it will obviously have a positive impact on business, people around them, and personal potentials for success.
It is inefficient to build Level five leadership by copying some behaviors or one “surface,” because, ultimately, the individual’s internal structure determines their behavior and psychological response. No one tool can address all issues. Emotion and behavior are only a part of the human integrated system of abilities, health, and relationships with the self and society. In addition, emotional training and behavioral approach have limited power over complex issues with non-psychological or non-behavior root causes, such as abilities and health, which can create “intractable issues” and add months or years to the time to achieve results. The right approach is to look into all elements, get to the underlying causes, identify the “missing software,” and target issues with the right tools.
Unlike computers, human capacity can fluctuate under change and storm, which involves adversity Q, health Q, and public influence Q besides IQ, EQ, and learning Q. Behaviors can reflect the 6Q structural change but have limited power to change the 6Q system. By getting to the root causes, we can anticipate development needs of a leader before “the 360-Degree Evaluation” and take wise action. By addressing the underlying causes with the right tools and installing “missing software” smoothly, leaders often begin to show results in days to weeks instead of months to years. One of the best ways to speed up the Level five leadership development process is to act as if you already possess the qualities you want to develop.
Do you want to build Level 5 leadership style, become a level 5 leader or be an exceptional CEO? Do you desire to lead with a smart system and optimize your team performance efficiently? Do you long to take your company from good to great? Join our next webinar or try the Mini Leadership Assessment. You need to work on your surface as well as your internal structure and unlock yourself from What Stop Leaders from Good to Great,
About the Author
Bin Yang is a global Executive Adviser and the Managing Director of The Prince Synergy (www.theprincesynergy.com), a leading consulting firm that focuses on building exceptional leaders and performance management systems and reducing healthcare costs. She is also the author of “What Stops Leaders from Good to Great.” For more information or to schedule an interview, lecture or appointment, please contact us at 310-668-1828.
Organizations always need great leaders who can identify emerging challenges, inspire their team, and turn strategy into effective action. The needs only have been intensifying as changes come at an exponential speed. A 2016 Deloitte survey found that only 13% of companies believe they are building effective global leaders
Other firms have several suggestions on top team performance– focus on the shifts that matter, provide continuous leadership development, simplify formula, etc. Should we just concentrate on the shifts that matter? Should institution baby sit leaders? Can one method fix all issues? The answer is NO.
The Root Causes of Poor Corporate Leadership Development
The main root cause is partial approach– unable to get to the roots cause due to a lack of knowledge of the whole human structure but psychometrics, behavior or technology. Subsequently, many people try to solve health, business, law and other NON-tech and NON-psychological issues with tech and psychological (behavior) tools
Leaders require different tools to meet challenges in various environments at different stages. The daily skills include how to communicate and take feedback. Others can be sleep, learning, business law utilization, etc. If they do not have the tool(s) or the potential to acquire the tool(s) to finish ONE process, the whole journey can be in jeopardy. Talent type, personality and others define the boundary of their potential. Motivation DOES NOT have unlimited power. The case below is a good example that behaviors are often secondary to challenge and only emerge AFTER a person is ON THE SPOT, which is what the 360 degree can observe.
Unable to identify the precise development needs of a leader also results in extensive time, money and opportunities waste. Other technical causes can also delay and fail corporate leadership development, for example, how to personalize learning, install the “missing software” smoothly, and enhance learning practices.
Administrative and social causes include lack of support from CEOs and senior leaders and lack of motivations and confidence from individuals. Some people only want “solutions” from certain resources, including themselves. Some only respond to certain language and format. Without knowing the underlying structure and related rules, people analytic is only behavior or psychological observation and cannot be actionable. Thus, we need to get to the root causes and develop corporate leadership accordingly. For leadership development history, please visit Catch the Development Needs of a Leader before 360 Degree Evaluation.
Focus on the Shifts that Matter as well as the Holes that can Leak and Sink the Boat.
Regardless what a company strategy is, individuals can have different leadership development needs and require different action to execute the same strategy. A company opened a new category and promoted a marketing talent to be its new sub-ordinary CEO because:
However, the person has difficulties balancing intangible financial benefit over tangible and struggles with conflict management since he was “too important.” In fact, his leadership development needs could remain INSIGNIFICANT until he was promoted to CEO. Can his self-awareness and learning mind-set help him? Not really since it is hard to learn to vision intangible benefit, not to mention to become almost a genius that an excellent CEO requires. In addition, his Ego could easily become an issue once he was too important. Warren Buffet once said, “A horse that can count numbers is a remarkable horse, but not a remarkable mathematician.”
It is wise not to correct a development area. However, not to correct a development area should not be equal to ignore the area, or damage control can be inevitable. The case is a good example.
Each person has different leadership development needs that requires different time, action or alternative. No fix amount time and action can guarantee a success. Once individuals can meet current challenges, no need to update them unless their challenges change or will change, like the case above. By knowing their 6Q, we can catch most development needs of a leader ahead of the time and take early action. The Executive 6Q Assessment results are often good for 2 years in the absence of significant events.
Recently, some HR personnel explored whether people analytics enhances performance, how to simplify their approach and make their people analytics actionable. Their first discussion really amazed us– of course, people analytics enhances performance. However, no one formula for all as each human part, process, environment and stage has its own rules as discussed above. Without knowing the underlying human structure and related rules, people analytic can only be behavior or psychological observation, and, therefore, cannot be actionable.
Not long ago, we met some “leadership development experts” who evaluated leadership through psychometrics only and nailed both psychological and non-psychological issues with psychological tools. In fact, many psychological issues are secondary to NON-psychological causes, for example failures and poor health. To evaluate only psychometrics and target NON-psychological issues with psychological tools was why their leadership development was so poor. Unfortunately, the “leadership development experts” could not see the whole picture because they only react to psychological signals due to their knowledge base.
For proper people analytics, please visit from PwC CEO Study to How to Go from Good to Great Efficiently.
Learning is another whole system approach, where knowledge structure, talent type, tenacity, resources, introspection, self-discovery, etc. can all impact the learning outcome. One efficient way to facilitate change management and strategy execution is to make learning easy and fast. To do so, we need to identify the development needs precisely and minimize learning resistance. In addition, integrate learning with practices to enhance memory and turn learning into rapid action. Our leadership group classes are designed to serve the purpose. Practices at work are great but on and off.
Furthermore, senior leaders’ participation matters in organizational leadership development. McKinsey’s recent research found that successful corporate leadership-development programs were five to six times more likely to involve senior leaders acting as project sponsors, mentors, and coaches. The reason is that the senior leaders are good role models and know what matters most to the company.
Many CEOs strike to be exceptional but underestimate the needs to translate strategy into effective organizational capabilities that will affect their ultimate success. In fact, corporate leadership development can achieve a quick impact through the same mechanism of building exceptional CEOs.
1. Identify the development needs of a leader before “the 360 degree,” based on the 6Q assessment result instead of IQ, EQ and Behavior alone. The difference can be 50% of time less, efficient solutions to 30-40% “intractable” issues, and minimum damage control.
2. Install the missing tools as smoothly as possible. The difference here can be weeks vs months, months vs years.
3. Integrate learning with practices. The difference here can be knowledge vs action.
As the pace of change increases, so does the impact and cost of poor corporate leadership development and top team performance improvement.
How do you score in the above 4 key areas?
It is normal if you do not score high, which is why we are here. Read how to implement the 4 keys at What Stop Leaders from Good to Great.
About the Author
Bin Yang is the Managing Director of The Prince Synergy (www.theprincesynergy.com), a leading consulting firm that focuses on building exceptional leaders to strengthen society and solves the hardest issues in leadership and performance that no one else can. She is also the author of What Stop Leaders from Good to Great, that many Fortune 500 CEOs wish they have long before their “retirement.”
For more information or to schedule an interview, lecture, or appointment, please contact 310-668-1828.