Outstanding Group Or Outstanding Individuals?

In his best selling book Good To Great (2001) Jim Collins and his research team reports on the findings of companies who significantly outperformed their competitors over an extended period of time. This leadership style which Collins eventually termed the “Level Five leader” was characterized primarily by two things: modesty and an overwhelming sense of commitment to the organization above self (Lucia, Charlotte, 2007). Below are the attributes which researchers have listed for both Greenleaf’s Servant Leader and Level Five Leader :-

Figure: Adapted from Modesty in Leadership: A study of the Level Five Leader by Lucia M. Hamilton and Charlotte M. Knoche, Page 144, International Journal of Servant Leadership 2007.

The closest theoretical orientation to the Level Five leader seems to be the servant-leader concept developed by Robert Greenleaf (Greenleaf, 1991). You call it ‘Level Five Leader’ or ‘A Servant Leader’ both give credit to their teams when things go right and take responsibility when goes other way round. Both are people of character with well defined principles and morals. On a dark side, unfortunately in an organization selection process these qualities are not given a high level priority.


Human resource department of any organization should evaluate candidates not only on technical aspects but also on these traits which defines a leader. It’s high time for an organization to check whether their prevailing approaches to leadership development are adequate and what changes are required with respect to their organizational challlenges and needs.


Profit motive has significantly shaped the language of business world. But servant leadership is the only foundation on which a strong society and a strong business world can be built. Only when we focus more on human capital can we built on our business capital. Servant Leadership is the demand of this century. As Max De Pree put it Would you rather work as a part of an outstanding group or be a part of a group of outstanding individuals? Question is not whether you are doing the things right? Question is whether you are doing the right things?

Published by Harsh Pandey

A shapeless Pigmy searching for his own awakening. Otherwise, I am a master mariner, commanding merchant ships on international voyages.

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