Implementing Strategies: Level 5 Leadership Styles

Leadership is an interpersonal influence exercised in a situation through communication to attain goals. These goals may be organizational, group or personal goals of the supervisor or the personal goals of the subordinate. For elaborating this definition of leadership further, we can deduce that leadership is a relationship whereby the leader motivates and inspires others in order for them to accomplish their objectives. The leader uses his authority in order to influence others and offer guidance through his knowledge and experience. In general the term of “leader” is interpreted by several meanings but specifically it means “management”. The leader supervises activities within the organization and helps the employees to accomplish their objectives through generating enthusiasm and motivating them, which is important in enhancing their productivity. Jimmy Collins has devised a model of “Level 5 Leadership”(Collins, 2001). This essay is an evaluation of my style of leadership using this hierarchy as the frame of reference, which includes an analysis of various strengths and weaknesses. The behavioral theory of leadership has also been discussed.

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Level 5 Leadership

Jimmy Collins has presented a new concept of leadership which is called level 5 leadership; all persons have been classified by Collins in a 5 level framework (Collins, 2001).

Level Type of Leader Qualities of Leader
5 Level 5 leader Demonstrates modest character and professionalism. These qualities enable him to endure in order to accomplish tasks
4 Effective leader The leader generates enthusiasm amongst employees, keeping them focused towards improvement of performance in order to accomplish the organizational goals
3 Competent manager The leader ensures the effective allocation of the organization’s resources and assigning each task to the most knowledgeable person in it, while maintaining focus on the organization’s objectives
2 Contributing team member The leader participates in the process and puts in his abilities to supplement those of the team members to ensure effective completion of tasks
1 Highly capable individual The leader is a knowledgeable, talented and skilled person who understands what needs to be done and how. He uses these qualities to enhance organizational productivity

Fig 1: Collins (2001). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.

Harvard Business Review.

At level one is the highly capable person but he can work best as an individual than in a team. This kind of leadership style is useful in situations where personal output is needed rather than team work. The may only be required to supervise in order to ensure that the product is of good quality without intervening in the production stage. In the University where I work as an Admission and Recruitment Supervisor, team work is highly appreciated to supplement personal capabilities. This is because there might happen to be some weaknesses in recruiting as an individual. I therefore have to demonstrate level two of Collin’s leadership style whereby I participate in team work, contributing my abilities in one of my role as a leader of the Marketing Steering Committee in order to create and maintain a positive and consistent image of the University in the community by creating an integrated marketing strategy that aligns all University academic and services departments’ marketing goals upon the University’s Strategic Priorities.

As a leader of my team, I demonstrate a high level of management capability through creativity, flexibility and adaptation. I have the strength of initiating new innovative practices and experimentation with new ideas. I have strong planning capabilities whereby I demonstrate competence in selecting the team which has to have good marketing background. I usually make them understand the requirements and also motivate them to convert innovative ideas in to a productive marketing plan. These are qualities that demonstrate level 3 of Collins leadership hierarchy. At level four, people have the ability to execute plans through building consensus and creating a visionary path that is understood by subordinates. After writing down our marketing plan and the strategies, the most daunting task is implementation of the plan especially when it concerns projects or events that need student involvement. This too requires building teams and directing change to the curriculum to have those projects or events as part of the course assessments and to ensure that the Programs Chairs and faculties understood, accepted and achieved for the benefit of the organization.

At level five is the extraordinary individual who is able to give credit of all hard work to co-workers and raises their self esteem. He is the most successful leader of all. The entire process calls for great leadership and to be able to handle obstacles and resistance with ease. I am obligated to deliver on promises and also make life better for all stakeholders. For me the leadership issue is crucial and clarity of vision and flexibility are the two sustaining elements of success. I also ensure that I present the names of the hardworking team members each year to the management for recognition. This has always generated a feeling of contentment and enthusiasm amongst my subordinates, which enhances their productivity each successive year. Level 5 leaders possess qualities and traits which are the mixture of their personal humility and professional will. They have high ambitions and vision for the organization and they usually do not work to fulfill personal interests. Level 5 leaders create an environment for their successors which enables them to accomplish organizational goals.

Collins defines professional will as the demonstration of modesty and low desire to achieve adoration by the public (Collins 2001). Effective leaders do not boast. Rather, they tend to exercise tranquility and determination. This helps in problem solving since the leader is capable of listening and analyzing case by case in order to make sound judgment. The leader relies principally on inspired standards and strong personality. An effective leader is also capable of channeling ambition to the company and ensures that his successors find a favorable environment for work in the organization. The leader apportions credit for the success of the organization through a careful analysis and evaluation.

Collins also defined professional humility in a leader as the aspect of creating superb results, and is a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great. The leader demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult. An effective leader sets the standard of building an enduring great company and settles for nothing less. Such a leader is capable of determining where failures occur within an organization and can easily identify the cause of poor performance (Collins 2001).

In order for followers to participate effectively in the process, it is important to ensure that their well being is considered. An effective leader enhances work-life balance amongst his subordinates, and ensures that they are working in a favorable environment. However, this needs to be applied together with emphasis on their productivity. They should be informed that the reason for promotion of work-life balance is to enhance their working conditions. The leader also needs to be far sighted and capable making correct predictions of the results. This is important in ensuring that the followers have a clue of what is likely to be the result of their actions in regard to the organizational objectives. It is also important for the leader to be capable of promoting inter personal relations in order to maintain harmony and avoid work place conflicts. On the other hand, he should also be capable of establishing close ties with his seniors so as to understand ways of acquiring a higher status in future. These are the guiding principles that have been derived from Collins level 5 leadership (Collins 2001). They have been significant in building strong leadership qualities in my role as a leader in leader of the Marketing Steering Committee in the University where I work.

A successful leader knows how to set priorities for employees. Such a leader plays a supervisory role but also participates in the process in order to motivate his employees. Good supervising involves working with employees to establish suitable goals, action plans and time lines. A good leader actually motivates people and gives them a burning desire to achieve their goal (Steyrer, 1998). The supervisor delegates and also provides ongoing guidance and support to the employee as they complete their action plans. Rarely can job goals be established without considering other aspects of an employee’s life, e.g., time available for training, career preferences, personal strengths and weaknesses, etc. A supervisor is sometimes confronted with walking a fine line between being a supervisor and the employee’s confident (Tannenbaum et al, 1964).

Usually the supervisor understands the organization and the employee’s profession better than the employee. Consequently, the supervisor is in a unique position to give ongoing advice to the employee about job and career. The employee can look to the supervisor as a model for direction and development. A good leader can be a priceless addition to the career of an employee. The ability to create in his mind about the future is an important aspect of leadership since it presents the leader with the competence of correct reasoning in regard to the incentives that can be offered to inspire the people in order for them to work towards the attainment of organizational goals (Howard 1999). The ability to share his vision with others is significant in building a strong team focused on realization of the organizational dreams.

Building strong teams in the workplace with people who share a common vision generates enthusiasm and contentment amongst subordinates. Each of the followers tends to own the ideas of the organization, a factor that is significant in enhancement of participation and the desire to accomplish tasks. A strong vision raises the morale of followers as well as their aspiration to achieve performance standards. Simplicity and courtesy are strong aspects that effective leaders should demonstrate. These will enable the leader to narrate his vision to the subordinates who accept them without doubt as it would be if the leader was rude. Constant appreciation of the subordinates and co-workers is important in building confidence amongst them thereby maintaining their performance. Even when cautioning them in regard to ineffective performance, it is important for a leader to present his concerns in a logical manner that demonstrates humility and civility (John 2001).

Another approach has been identifying the behaviors by which the leader fulfills the leadership role; the rationale is that the leader must behave in some consistent set of ways in order to interact with followers, solve problems, or encourage enthusiastic participation in important activities. If sets of behaviors could be found that distinguished between effective and ineffective leaders, then ineffectiveness amongst leaders can be solved through eliminating the behaviors that indicate weaknesses. The leader should demonstrate the capability of talking as a representative of his group and ensuring that there is harmony in regard to the decisions made. He should be capable of promoting respect for each others opinions and avoidance of conflicts in the work place (Edwards 2006).

In order to ensure that there is harmony in regard to accomplishing tasks within the organization, the leader needs to possess the capability to persuade others to accept the right opinion while on the other hand being able to cope with uncertainty and compulsion to procrastinate activities in order to match the prevailing circumstances. This facilitates the realization of organizational goals even when there are unexpected occurrences that may act as a hindrance to success. Respecting the decision of followers ensures that there are personal freedoms amongst them thereby ensuring that they participate in the process at will rather than pressure. Once their decisions are respected, followers usually tend to be more committed and ready to participate in the process (John 2001). On the other hand, no matter how a leader allows freedom amongst the followers, it is required of him to ensure that he is exercises leadership by himself other than delegating all activities of leadership to others and assuming that everything will run smoothly.

However, strong leadership is usually accompanied by one or two weaknesses. It is usually difficult to be perfect in all activities involving leadership. For example, annoyance is one weakness that is exhibited by many leaders especially when dealing with incompetent employees or co-workers (Edwards 2006). The leader may explain processes once and again that they fail to adhere to unless under strict supervision. Such leaders may become irritated and impatient with employees, an issue that may result in unfavorable consequences in regard to accomplishment of tasks. A solution to such weakness includes trying to establish the root cause of the problem, after which the leader can identify possible solutions which might involve offering refresher courses to the employees or even dealing with each individual. This weakness was exhibited in my leadership style initially but I have been able to overcome it through allocation of tasks to the most qualified people and offering guidance in each step in order to avoid failure. As time goes by, there is a possibility that the subordinates whom I have been offering extensive guidance will be able to accomplish the tasks independently.

The other weakness that I demonstrated while working with my co-workers is too much concern in regard to details of the activities that I expect to be accomplished. This is one weakness I have realized affects leaders, and may hinder the realization of organizational goals. In an ideal case, it is usually difficult for people to be perfect in every aspect of work. This realization made me able to deal with too much attention in regard to details. I realized that even if people do not produce the expected results perfectly, they usually generate precise results, which a leader needs to analyze and bring out the best from them. In general, a leader is supposed to be aware of his/her weaknesses that act as a hindrance to success. With this awareness, it is possible to find a solution.

Behavioral Theories of leadership

In these theories, it is assumed that leadership is based on individual behaviors and the actions of a leader. People are usually molded in to this kind of leadership through learning or observing other people’s leadership style. There are several styles of leadership that will be discussed under behavioral theories of leadership. They include authoritarian, authoritative and charismatic among others.

Authoritarian Style

This style of leadership is built on power. The subordinate is often motivated by fear. Under this style, the leader orders his subordinates to do a task and the subordinate are expected to complete it without any questioning. There is very little delegation of authority and the leader does not give explanations for his actions. In the situation where the authoritarian leader functions, he sets policies for the organization and expects little contribution in regard to policy making from the subordinates. He gives instructions concerning future activities and therefore the subordinates may not be aware of what to expect in regard to the organization’s operations. He plays a supervisory role, giving guidelines for every activity that is to be carried out (John 2001). This leadership style does not seem to be applicable in my field. This is because it requires team work and views which are supposed to be analyzed and discussed in order to set strategies. In my organization, the leader acts as a guide and not as a strict supervisor, as it happens in authoritarian leadership.

Authoritative Style

This is a style of leadership that is different from authoritarian style in the sense that despite the fact that the leader uses power and control over the subordinates in order to accomplish activities, he is concerned about theirs opinion in regard to their work. The leader ensures that all the employees are contented with the tasks they have been allocated, and that their views are taken into consideration while planning on how to execute tasks. It is significant in building confidence and enthusiasm amongst the followers especially when they own the decisions made in regard to the activities of the organization. This leadership style can bring success to my team and the entire organization. It is the main style that is practiced in the implementation of strategies (Edwards 2006).

Transformational Style

The transformational style of leadership depends upon the charisma of the leader. In this style, the leader encourages their employees and can easily obtain the performance, which is beyond imagination by setting high goals and then inspires the employees to pursue and achieve such goals (Doherty and Danylchuk, 1996). Transformational leaders provide a plan for getting the goals and attaining their vision. Actually they provide a big picture to their employees and then the employees relate their individual activities to the work as a whole. They like delegating their work to teams of people that they feel are qualified. They tend to generate enthusiasm among their subordinates in order to encourage them to be inventive and use their inventions to accomplish the organizational goals. This style would be mainly applicable to leaders who deal with a large number of employees. Although the team that I lead is not large, many aspects of this leadership style are applicable in augmenting successful implementation of tasks.

Supportive Style

In the supportive Style of leadership the leader seeks psychological support from his subordinates. The relationship between the leader and his subordinates is based on mutual understanding and support. It is success oriented and the leader may exhibit many other leadership styles (John 2001).

Participative Style

The leader using this style encourages the subordinates to participate in group activities and decision making. Under such a leader, friendly relations among the members exist. The leader holds his position because he is loyal to the group and is concerned about their interests. There is no threat to motivate the people. The climate in which they operate provides motivation to do their best. A participative leader permits all members to discuss policy and encourage them to get involved in making necessary decisions, he permits not only discussion on present activity but also on future activity, he also allows members to define their own job situations as much as possible (Edwards 2006). However, he makes the final decision, and he determines whether the decisions reached by the subordinates are to be accepted. This leadership style is essential especially where workers are competent in regard to knowledge and skills. When members of my team gain enough knowledge in regard to developing strategies for accomplishment of organizational goals, this leadership style will be the most appropriate.

Charismatic Leadership Style

Change is necessary for retaining or developing competitive advantage. Leaders are crucial for any change effort. They also need to be seen as flexible leaders for bringing about effective change. More open communications at all level are called for and the leader must establish this to motivate the sub-ordinates to obtain their commitment to the vision and mission of the company. Suitable intervention programs under change management are to be devised and supervised by such leaders. The charismatic leader will be able to motivate his followers to improved quality and better their performance. It is also important to have an agile organization that will empower the workers and motivate them to raise their standards. This too can be brought about by a visionary leadership. This leadership style is applicable in my team and can be a significant aspect for augmentation of accomplishment of tasks (Edwards 2006).

Entrepreneurial Leadership Style

Many entrepreneurs use a similar leadership style that stems from their key personality characteristics and circumstances. The general picture that emerges is of task-oriented and charismatic leader. Entrepreneurs drive themselves and others relentlessly yet their personalities inspire others. They tend to believe that they are working for themselves and therefore they exhibit strong achievement motive and sensible risk taking as well as a high degree of enthusiasm and creativity amongst their subordinates. Due to their entrepreneurial character, they are likely to identify opportunities immediately they arise and also possess a tendency of hurrying around in search of improvement in their organization. They are visionary leaders who ensure that they accomplish their dreams with the slightest opportunity (John 2001). Due to the nature of their movements and opportunity orientation, they have an aversion to hierarchy and bureaucracy. They prefer dealing with external customers. My team exhibits this leadership style especially due to the fact that the procedures to facilitate the accomplishment of tasks are minimal; hence bureaucracy and hierarchy are not an issue.

Team Leadership

Team leaders share power and deemphasize individual glory. They are flexible and adaptable, thus welcoming change. Team leaders function as facilitators who bring out the best in others while still being inspirational. Team leaders place considerable emphasis on team building, and then evaluate their own performance on the basis of how well they have developed the team. Team leaders intuitively recognize that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Based on this belief, they look for linkages among team members to help multiply productivity (William 1988). Team leaders understand that sharing power with group members multiplies their own power. As the team members become stronger, so does the leader. A related attitude is that team leaders are not threatened by sharing power. They are therefore willing to surround themselves with capable people in order to multiply the effectiveness of the team. This is the most appropriate leadership style especially where people have to work in groups. The leader can only accomplish tasks when he is able to build strong teams.

Critique of the Collins Model

The Collins level 5 model is significant in enhancing accomplishment of organizational goals through strong leadership qualities. However, it should be realized that it is difficult to have leaders who perfectly match the level 5 model without certain failures. This model depicts that for an organization to be great and for leaders to accomplish organization goals; they need to possess the level 5 leadership qualities. Each level of leadership in this hierarchy is significant in accomplishment of organizational goals. Perfect leaders need to posses all these qualities in order to lead their organizations to success. However, there are organizations that have achieved their goals while lacking one aspect or the other in regard to leadership. But, organizations can accomplish goals through combining these leadership qualities from different leaders.

Level 2 leadership can be significant for an organization if all the leaders become contributing team members. This is because they are able to share what they know, and acquire essential knowledge from those who know when they work as a team. Essentially, every person usually demonstrates certain strengths and weaknesses that are unique to him. When leaders share knowledge through team work, it is likely that they are capable of capitalizing on their strengths and finding out solutions for their weaknesses. Each of the ‘pure’ styles of management as indicated in the Collins level 5 management styles has very definite advantages and disadvantages associated with it.

In objectively appraising these managerial styles, we must keep the following major points in mind; the names of the managerial styles are value-laden conjuring up emotional responses to the ideas associated with the terms and not necessarily with what the styles themselves represent, the fact that we talk in terms of pure styles but must remember that the pure or ideal forms are relatively rare; rather, the multitude of mixed styles predominate in practice, lack of a universal leadership style that is best in all situations since the characteristics of the situation dictates which style is most effective, as well as the fact that a manager’s style is a pattern of ways by which to seek to attain managerial objectives, which is the first and chief responsibility. The most appropriate thing for leaders wishing to accomplish organizational goals is to ensure that they possess particular aspects that place them in a position whereby they can be able to accomplish their goals. These characteristics are common for all the successful leaders. For example, an effective leader needs to be a strong decision maker who is able to motivate his co-workers as well as subordinates in order for them to perform. They should also be able to control the activities of the organization in order to ensure that every aspect of the organization supports the realization of objectives. It is important for leaders to understand that team work is the core to effectiveness, and should be developed through treating the subordinates fairly.


Leadership is one of the central problems of managers and executives at all levels. Leadership is the capacity to guide, direct, and influence the behavior of others, imaginative, toward given ends. The trait theory holds that leadership is inherent in the psychological makeup of individuals. The situational pattern views leadership as contingent on the needs and resources of a given situation. In a synthesis of these two patterns, we concluded that both have contributed ideas of value, that neither approach alone is satisfactory. Although I possess certain aspects in each of the levels in Collins’ model, my most appropriate position in the University is comparable to the level four leaders as described by Jim Collins. I am capable of inspiring my team to deliver on the promise. I would very much like to emulate the level five of leadership and that is the worthwhile cause.



Collins, J. (2001). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. Harvard Business Review.

Doherty, A. J., & Danylchuk, K. E. (1996). Transformational and transactional leadership in Edwards J. 2006, “Leadership in the Labor Market” Journal of Leadership Behavior & Research. Vol.11 No. 1, July.

Howard P. 1999 “Empowerment of Leaders: Effective Community Development” Journal on Leadership matters. vol. 5, no. 3, September.

John B. 2001, Problems, Solutions and Prosperity: a Post-Modernism Approach, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, England, UK

Steyrer, J. (1998). Charisma and the Archetypes of Leadership. Organization Studies. Retrieved on 14th March 2009 from


Tannenbaum, Robert, Weschler, Irving and Massarik and Fred (1961). Leadership and Organization: A Behavioral Science approach, McGrew-Hill, New York.

William, D. (1988). The Leader – Manager: Guidelines for action. Columbus, Ohio: Battelle, pp.68 -69.



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