#1330 Level 5 (Heroic!) Leadership

Personal Humility + Indomitable Will

Jim Collins is my all-time favorite business thinker.

He’s written a bunch of great books including Good to Great, Built to Last, and Great by Choice.


My all-time favorite business book is Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company. (Thanks again for the rec on that, Gibson. 🙏 )

I still need to do a Note on all those books and create a series of Notes for all the business books I’ve read but have yet to distill.

For now…

I want to talk about one of Jim Collins’ Big Ideas on what he calls “Level 5 leadership.”

Here’s how he puts it: “Our research showed that having charismatic leadership doesn’t explain why some companies become great and others don’t. In fact, some of the most disastrous comparison cases had very strong, charismatic leadership in the very era that the companies fell or failed. Rather, our research found that the critical ingredient is Level 5 leadership. The essence of Level 5 leadership is a paradoxical combination of personal humility and indomitable will. The humility expressed at Level 5 isn’t a false humbleness; it’s a subjugation of personal ego in service to a cause beyond oneself. This humility combined with the fierce resolve to do whatever it takes (no matter how difficult) to best serve that cause. Level 5 leaders are incredibly ambitious, but they channel their ambition into building a great team or organization and accomplishing a shared mission that’s ultimately not about them.

First: “Personal humility.”

We subjugate our personal egos in service to something bigger than ourselves.

Second: “Indomitable will.”

As in…

INDOMITABLE will. (Wow.)

We have a fierce resolve to do WHATEVER it takes (no matter how difficult!) to best serve the cause.


Combine personal humility and indomitable will and we have what Collins calls “Level 5 leadership.”


You know what I thought of when I read that passage?

I thought…

If, as Joseph Campbell says: “A hero is someone who has dedicated his or her life to something bigger than oneself”


I say…

Jim Collins just described HEROIC Leadership.


That’s Today’s +1.

Let’s fiercely resolve to stepping up and into our Heroic Leadership potential—combining personal humility with INDOMITABLE (!) will to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to fulfill our Missions.


Let’s do that…


Day 1. All in.


P.S. Check out this +1 on (Heroically!) Fierce Ambition for another take on the subject, inspired by Doris Kearns Goodwin and her brilliant book Leadership in Turbulent Times.

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