Humility Has Value In Every And Any Place.
“Humble yourselves before God and you’ll be exalted” is a cardinal rule for the success of the godly, coupled with diligence and could not have been a clearer advice to a wise and discerning leader than it is in Jim Collins (2017) book. The title Good to great at the onset might suggest otherwise, especially when you think of the term great because the world associates great things with the high and mighty, the larger than life, celebrity leaders who easily draw attention to themselves. On the contrary research on 1,435 of Fortune 500 companies only produced 11 companies that made the tough cut cut of the companies that transformed from good to great to be the subject of the study, 10 of which had leaders that distinctly characterized personal humility and professional will in their leadership. Personal humility and professional will were the two key distinct characters that featured and in what Collins referred to as the Level five leadership that is required to turn good companies into great companies and which is worth any effort to emulate. The ultimate interest of Jim Collins and his research team was the timeless principles of how you take a good organization and turn it into one that produces great results sustainably. Some companies produce great results only lasting the leadership of certain individual leaders but sustainable greats results that outlast the leader was the subject of the research.
The level five leadership is a five hierarchical levels of Executive capabilities of: highly capable individual; contributing team member; competent manager; effective leader; and level five executive but it the level five executive capability that distinguishes the leaders that turned good organizations to great organizations that produce great results sustainably. While there are other key timeless principles that were identified in the research that were attributed for turning good organizations into great ones, it is the level five executive capability that is of great interest to me. These other six key timeless principles that the leaders use to turn good organizations to great ones include: First who…then what, you first identify and get the right people in the bus (and kick out the wrong ones) and the determine what needs to be done, as opposed to the common practice of first setting the vision and direction; confront the brutal facts of the current realities and continually align your path to greatness with the reality; The hedgehog concept that circles around finding a simple strategic concept and build on it, the hedgehog concept is identified as the intersection of 3 circles of the deep understanding of what you can be best in doing, what drives your economic engine, and what you’re deeply passionate about; creating a culture of discipline, especially confining the organizational activities and direction around the hedgehog concept where the ‘not to do list’ becomes more important than the ‘to do list’; use of technology as an accelerator of momentum and a not creator of the momentum by fitting technological change to the hedgehog concept; The flywheel as opposed to the doom loop which is persistent pushing towards one consistent direction, building momentum until you get breakthrough results as opposed to trying to skip the buildup of momentum and jump to breakthrough through large acquisitions and lurching back and forth with no consistent direction; The ultimate aim should be to ensure sustainable great results that will last longer than the leader because a level fiver leader sets his success to succeed.
As I studied the book, it became clear that the this kind of leadership can only be borne of a sound character foundation that for the most part arises from a Christian foundation and consistent application and dependence on biblical Christian values. It would seem to me to be replica of Daniel’s character in the Bible that was said to be preferred above all his contemporaries because he possed a spirit of excellence and was set to rule over all the others. At the core of humility and professional will is a deep knowledge and commitment to good morals that I can confidently assert that are a result of the influence of Christianity over the social fabric of the society. We could produce more of level five leaders in our societies by deliberately raising and training Christian leaders and emulating Christ who is the greatest example of a lever five leader who leads with humility and professional will.
As I reflect on my dissertation project on financial literacy, I have to work towards developing a financial literacy tool that is biblically based and culturally appropriate to the vulnerable communities in my context. This will only be the beginning because for success in influencing and creating impact by economic empowerment, it can only achieved if I implement in our church congregation with success for other churches to emulate. I see a great opportunity in using level five leadership in the church and persistence at training the members to create momentum and eventually achieve a breakthrough for economic empowerment of Christians in vulnerable communities.
 Bible. NIV. James 4:10
 Jim Collins (2001). Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap….And Others Don’t. Boulder, Colorado. March 27, 2001.
 Ibid…..pg 35.
 Ibid….., pg 15.
 Ibid,….., pg 20
 Ibid,……, pg 41
 Ibid,……, pg 65
 Ibid,……, pg 90
 Ibid,……, pg 120
 Ibid,……, pg 144
 Ibid,……., pg 164
 Bible, NIV. Daniel 6:3.
4 responses to “Humility Has Value In Every And Any Place.”
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Thank you, Wallace. I appreciate your perspective. It seems Jesus’ definition of greatness certainly reveals humility as the key. Professional will in his model seems defined by perseverance and resilience and staying focused on the Father’s mission. It was important to me to keep all that Collins spoke about greatness in this context. How do you see the church intentionally training leaders for the marketplace to bear these characteristics?
Thank you for reminding us of the biblical qualities and values of Daniel’s character. Your example of Daniel brings up and interesting thought, can humble and willful effective leaders only be seen in western capitalistic societies? What about leaders where capitalism is not the prevailing economic system? What about non-profits and churches in non-capitalistic societies? I wonder?
Thanks for your insight Wallace. You talk about needing to ensure you have level 5 leaders in place to implement your plan to grow financial literacy, how will you identify these leaders? Do you plan to nurture them towards level 5? If so, how? Humility and drive are admirable qualities, but I know many like this who would not make great leaders. I’m wondering what other vetting the recruiting process might require?
Wallace, thank you for your post. I think the challenge is definitely building a model in your own church. Finding level five leaders is hard enough, but to find those who are willing to volunteer, is even more difficult. I think we have to strive to be level five leaders and train others, which is no easy feat. Please continue what you are doing because it is much needed.