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Summary: Serving is a high calling.

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One of the books I read recently was Jim Collins’ bestselling management book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap, and Others Don’t.” The phenomenal bestseller came out seven years ago and yet it still sells over 300,000 copies a year. It showcased 11 companies that transformed from average to amazing, or simply put, from good to great. Collins and his research team sought to pinpoint the principles that led them to greatness. These principles are not just applicable to companies but also to our personal lives, to our families and even to our church.

I find it very interesting that Collins pointed out that the first factor to become good to great is a Level 5 Leadership. Now, what is a Level 5 Leader? How do we become one? Bear with me please as I explain the details. According to “Good to Great,” Level 1 Leader is defined as a “Highly Capable Individual,” a person who “Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits.” A Level 2 Leader is a “Contributing Team Member,” who “Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in a group setting.” A Level 3 Leader is a “Competent Manager,” who “Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives.” A Level 4 Leader is an “Effective Leader,” who “Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance standards.” Now, most of the leadership talks I heard focused on this level of leadership, that to be a great leader, he must be a visionary. A great leader is a tough leader, one with a strong personality or charisma. That’s our usual concept of leadership. Power leadership. That’s why even in our families, we say that the father must be a tough, strong leader of the family. For us, to apologize to our spouse or to our children for our shortcomings for example is a sign of weakness. We would not admit our weaknesses. Yes, as the leader of the family, the father has the last say, the final decision. But, we feel listening to the opinion of our spouses is not an option. For our kids to voice out their opinion against our decision is simply not acceptable. That’s our image of a strong leader. Actually, it’s more overbearing than strong. I admit that’s also my personal image of a father. Well, bless her heart, my wife is submissive. But I know that Ellen time and again has struggled with my idea of leadership at home. And, if we are honest, I believe that there are people here also who share the same situation.

But that’s not the peak of leadership! According to “Good to Great,” “We were surprised, shocked really, to discover the type of leadership required for turning a good company into a great one. Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders… are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” What is amazing is that we don’t have to go through levels 1 to 4 in order to reach level 5. When we deal with our attitude, we jump to level 5 from whatever level we are in. Thus, the Level 5 Leader is the leader who accomplishes so much because he does not care who gets the credit. It’s the leader who cares more for the organization than for himself or for his image. It’s the leader who asks what he can do for the company rather than what the company can do for him. In short, Level 5 Leadership is servant-leadership.


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