Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Good Great Power

Written by: on September 3, 2015

Good Great Power

Good to Great is a fascinating study of how companies who have settled into and exist with a good enough mentality, culture, and results can experience the awakening of becoming great. From a researched based study, author Jim Collins and an extensive team of researchers, assesses, evaluate, and compare twenty-eight companies to learn what ultimately makes the good become great.

One of the key findings is what Collins entitled “Level 5 Leadership.” As Collins articulates this quality, “‘Level 5’ refers to a five-level hierarchy of executive capabilities with Level 5 at the top. Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will.”[1] Additionally Collins goes on to describe Level 5 leaders as “self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy – these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton and Ceasar.”[2]

A significant dynamic of Level 5 leadership Collins and his team discovered was heavily related to the distribution and use of power. While often in the business sector in our Western culture, power flows through a tighter, hierarchical structure with clear and straightforward controls concentrated on heavy executive power.[3] Yet in the social sector, which Collins created an accompaniment monograph to cover due to the distinct differences between business and social sector organizations, Level 5 leaders distribute power through a more diffuse structure with very limited traditional executive power. Level 5 leadership in the social sector is truly defined by “the ability to get people to follow when they have the freedom not to.”[4]

An interesting interview that Collins and his team of researchers covered in their social sector monograph was of the Girl Scouts of the USA CEO, Frances Hesselbein. When asked about power and the apparent lack of traditional executive power due to being a primarily a volunteer based organization, Hesselbien replied, “Oh, you always have power, if you just have know where to find it. There is the power of inclusion, and the power of language, and the power of shared interests, and the power of coalition. Power is all around you to draw upon, but it is rarely raw, rarely visible.”[5]

Collins identifies and associates this style of leadership that views power in a more resourceful way as legislative leadership as opposed to executive leadership. Collins writes, “Legislative leadership relies more upon persuasion, political currency, and shared interests to create the conditions for the right decisions to happen.”[6] It is often in the social sector that we see Level 5, legislative leadership being the key characteristic for greatness being achieved.

I am personally drawn to and attracted by this characteristic of organizational leadership because of the specific organizational role I have served in over the past three years. I have served as The Director of Church Health and Multiplication for The Wesleyan Church denomination. Obviously, this is a social sector organization, but even more specifically, the role I have served in is a role where power and the power dynamics are very legislative and sit at a great distance from anything close to executive power. Structurally speaking, my role would fall into middle management. I work for those with our highest-level executive powers, our General Superintendent and Executive Director of Discipleship and Multiplication, as well as serve those (our District Superintendents) with more executive power than which I positionally have. Collins statement about ‘getting people to do things that they have the freedom not to’ truly resonates with me.

From serving in this role for three years, I would initially say I have not had any real power because of a lack of authority and I would say I have only been able to plan, prepare, and accomplish that which I have been able to gain through relationships and trust. But, reading Frances Hesselbein’s description of power and that power has many forms, I can re-picture the role I have served in as having great power and having tapped into much of it through inclusion, shared-interest, persuasion, language, and coalition.

I have primarily approached my role as a network developer. In hindsight, the network has developed primarily through finding and seeing the power that exists in the non-authoritarian relationships, social dynamics, and shared organizational interests. I definitely would not have viewed power having played a part, but when I look at how a culture is being created within our denomination from this legislative, non-executive style, ultimately style is actually describing how power was working and was being used.

As I continue to serve in my role for one more year, I see incredible opportunities and implications of a learning curve continuing in thinking more about legislative leadership and the power dynamics within our denomination. We are in an election year with a new General Superintendent to be elected in the coming year. I look forward to praying and watching how God moves through the dynamics of Level 5 leadership and the use of power to help us continue to pursue the real greatness of living out the Great Commandment and carrying out the Great Commission in the days ahead.


[1] Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap–and Others Don’t (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2001), 39.

[2] Ibid., Collins. 13.

[3] Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors: a Monograph to Accompany Good to Great (Boulder, CO: HarperCollins, 2005), 32.

[4] Ibid., Collins, 32.

[5] Ibid., Collins 10.

[6] Ibid., Collins 11.

About the Author

Phillip Struckmeyer

15 responses to “Good Great Power”

  1. Mary Pandiani says:

    As you explain, part of the definition for an L5 leader is humility. In googling Collins and his definition (apparently rather vague), I discovered that many researchers felt he overstretched his emphasis on humility. But as I read your post, Phil, I’m reminded of how humility does change a culture. You’re demonstrating it in your approach with networking and encouragement of those who are within your sphere of influence. May God continue in this change of leadership to work in and through you.

  2. Jon Spellman says:

    But Phil, can you look back and point to any examples of when “legislative” leadership in your context has resulted in meaningful change in the perspectives and praxis of the “executive” leadership? In other words, have the power centers shifted any or even diffused some? Or is all as it has always been?

    What I’m wrestling with is whether or not it is futile to hope for meaningful, institutional change as a result of the exercise of legislative leadership among ECCLESIAL bodies. It seems that oftentimes legislative leaders get a nice pat on the head by executive leaders when they make a few steps forward but in real practice, things stay as they have been…

    I don’t know, just pondering.


    • Phillip Struckmeyer says:

      Jon, I think our next book should be tipping point. 🙂 I agree in the vulnerability and possibility of nothing actually changing, but I believe a tipping point is coming where we will see continued power shift. I think if, and that is definitely a big if, we will see a down sizing of our “centralized” power, mainly resources, from headquarters be redistributed/diffused more into the field. While money isn’t everything, I think it would could reflect the change of decentralizing to empower a rising of leadership in the field that requires sacrifice and surrender of the way things were and the real control of how the Church scatters and gathers. Or … maybe I am just a foolish optimist:). Good thoughts man. Thanks

      • Jon Spellman says:

        For the first time in Foursquare history, the National Church Office is returning significant portions of the extension tithe (that’s what we call the money local churches send in to the denomination in our tribe) BACK to the local districts and churches. It is an incredible season of transition and re-imagining what a denomination can look like… I am (despite my recent angst of which ALL of you have been witnesses) very hopeful for our tribe. Some of it is just that, hope, but some of it is actual observable changes that have happened in the last year.

        So, I stand with in a shared optimism Phil.


      • Dawnel Volzke says:


        In order for decentralization to work, there must be level 5 leaders at the local levels, and best practices in operations at the church and district levels. Otherwise, resources will bleed out, poor processes will drive inefficiencies, and a lack of skills and knowledge will contribute to overall decline. There is much benefit from having a central source for best practices to be modeled and propagated. On the other hand, given the way that many centralized church models have failed in recent history, I can see why this model may be not be too popular in public opinion at the present.

        • Phillip Struckmeyer says:

          Definitely Dawnel, I have sensed and heard from others this same caution. As we are now in the fourth year I am considering a “when push comes to shove” year. We will really see how much we have meant the things we have said and how deep our convictions really are.

    • Dawnel Volzke says:


      Collins describes level 5 leadership as being on a spectrum, legislative to executive. I believe that each leader must find their natural place on that spectrum. Sometimes, the Lord puts you into the specific type of leadership role in which He wants you to serve at various times throughout your career. In every organization, there is a need for leaders to exert both types of power. Different situations and contexts call for each type.

      With so much focus placed on leadership, it would seem to be an easy subject to master. Yet, despite this, poor leaders plague organizations. Being a good leader is something that we must work towards, as we strive to continuously improve. Effective leaders “rally people around a purpose, share power, clarify norms and expectations, and admit ignorance”[1].

      Take Martin Luther King, Jr. – we can learn much from his leadership style. He once said, “a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” He also said, “there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”[2] This is the mindset of a level 5 leader.

      [1] Daft, R. L. (2014). Management (11th ed., p.13). Australia: South-Western Cengage Learning.

  3. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Thanks Mary, I thought it was interesting, and definitely strong language, when he described level 5 leaders as “self-effacing.” I wonder if that would go along with some of the other findings you found that were critical of Collins definition. Seeing the leadership that I am working for and with, I would still lean towards Collins “personal humility and professional will” being an accurate characteristic of Level 5 Leadership. The General Superintendent, Jo Anne Lyon is “professionally powerful” but she truly leads through a “sweet spirit” that I really think the word humility is a good descriptor of. Should be a great year ahead!

  4. Nick Martineau says:

    Phil, I love reading your thoughts on power. It is interesting to think that no matter situation we find ourselves we have some power to change things. One of the things I’m asking after reading your post is whether or not it matters if it’s legislative power or executive power. Is one better than the other? I’m not so sure. It seems important to me to have the skills to identify how power is flowing and to (in humility) use the structure in place to facilitate health/growth/change. It seems like you are using your position to do that well.

    • Phillip Struckmeyer says:

      Thanks Nick, I am realizing power is almost like money. Power is not evil, but the love and misuse of it is. How we use power determines if power is good or bad. I think we all know that, but many times I find myself despising power because of so much misuse. Hopefully as “great” leaders we can realize this and take back the power for good. 🙂

      • Brian Yost says:

        “Power is not evil, but the love and misuse of it is.”

        So true. Here is a question; in the parable of the talents, the three servants received different amounts of money based on their abilities. They were all supposed to be faithful stewards and put the money to work for the master, but not all were given ten talents. Is power given in the same way? Can we be great leaders, have a great church, or great organization without achieving the same end results as the ten talent person. Is the true measure found in direct proportion to our faithfulness with what we have been given?

  5. Dave Young says:

    Phil, Great post. Denominational authority is constitutional or legislative, not executive. Therefore when it rolls down from the national level, to the district level and ultimately to the pastor and congregation it rarely comes as a forceful command – what you must do but this is what we think best matches our vision, values and goals. What I appreciate most about your post is how you positioned the word “Trust”. Such leadership requires relationships that have built trust. In my context our denominational leadership is very distant: the biggest geographic district (several big states) with too few churches. Which results in very few opportunities to build relationships, gain trust. And that reminds me of the need for L5 leaders who are very intentional. Again thanks for a great thoughtful post.

  6. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Thanks Dave, Your mentioning of denominational authority as constitutional or legislative, not executive made me think how most of our mega churches appear to be the raw environment of executive leadership. I think we see a lot of “Pastor as CEO” mentality spread through the large church movement and growth we have seen over the last 30 years. Just wondering how true this is??? Again, thanks for the good thoughts.

  7. Travis Biglow says:


    In any position we serve its a great place of power. And its good that you recognize that you have weight in what you do just like those in executive positions. I too like what Collins said about “people following you even when they dont have to.” I may not have quoted that right but you understand. True leadership i think is just like that. People gather around your leadership because they want too and their our no strings attached! Blessings1

  8. Brian Yost says:

    Level 5 leadership in the social sector is truly defined by “the ability to get people to follow when they have the freedom not to.”

    This concept also resonated with me. No one has to follow the pastor. Even in a small community, there are multiple options of churches to attend. Even within the church, people can just ride the pews. When people follow the pastor’s leadership, it is an act of freedom.
    (Unless you run a cult ; )

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