Having going over the readings for this week and reflecting back on my personal experiences in both hierarchical and flat organisation structures the concept of good leadership and good followers really strikes home. In my experience of owners and top managers in the various firms I have worked for it has been of my opinion that leadership is not something which is defined by a managerial role or position, rather it is the mentality and skill set brought on by critical thinking and years of learning from experience through active reflection (Daudelin, M. W. 1996). which really is used to define a leader and a great one at that.
Collins (2005). breaks the generalised stereotype and commonly held belief that a leader is heroic in nature and tends towards being similar to a megalomaniac with a despotic grip on the goings on in a given organisation. For example, early auto industry giants such as Henry Ford described as Directive in leadership style (Spreier, S. W., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. L. 2006). Collins however, places at the top of the hierarchy of leadership a “Level 5 Leader” who “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will”. A paradigm shift from those early authoritarian or directive rulers. Yet it makes sense the more one reflects, the attributes Collins assigns to the level 5 leader paints a picture of an individual grounded with a strong internal locus of control, assuming responsibility for shortcomings and assigning credit to those who deserve it, however tending to avoid placing credit on their own shoulders due to their own humility. In my experience of senior managers it seems that this theory has been reversed in owners & managers perceptions of good leadership and I think this may have something to due with the strong gender roles and military like nature in which firms compete, also the western idea of an individualised concept of greatness rather than a socialistic collective view. This may lead many in their perceptions of what great leadership is and may be why it is a trait so prevalent in those I and many others have worked for.
Collins work shows that research and solid evidence backs up his theory to show that long term success and profitability for a firm and its stakeholders lies in a humble leader who works for the greater good of an entire organisation rather than to build their own personal legacy such as evident in the numerous case examples such as illustrated by Darwin Smith of Kimberly Clark & Cork Walgreen of Walgreen drugstores. It will be interesting to observe and compare the different leadership styles in the various CEO's as we compete in Mikes bikes to derive the most conducive leadership styles to increased organisational performance.
Collins, J. C. (2005). Level 5 leadership: the triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136--146
Daudelin, M. W. (1996). Learning from experience through reflection. Organizational Dynamics, 24(3), 36--48
Spreier, S. W., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. L. (2006). Leadership run amok. Harvard Business Review, 84(6), 72--82