Leadership Approaches – Level Five Leadership, Jim Collins

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Part of the following ministry resources: Christian Leadership, Empowerment, Transformational Leadership.

This leadership theory comes from the research of Jim Collins. Collins discovered companies that arise significantly out of years of underperformance do so through the influence of a highly motivated executive (Level 5 Leader). This leader assembles a team to confront the brutal realities, arrive at a “hedgehog idea” to unify and guide renewal efforts, and develop a disciplined culture to implement it.

The research is found in three volumes:

Collins may help churches better understand what is needed for renewal and condition them to respond favorably to the challenges that come from such a leader. Not all congregations are suited to a Level 5 Leader, but for those who are, Collins’ literature is helpful.

This highlights one of the four key competencies of transformational leadership as defined by Bernard Bass – “intellectual stimulation.”

Transformational leaders stimulate their followers’ efforts to be innovative and creative by questioning assumptions, reframing problems, and approaching old situations in new ways. Creativity is encouraged. There is no public criticism of individual members’ mistakes. New ideas and creative problem solutions are solicited from followers, who are included in the process of addressing problems and finding solutions. Followers are encouraged to try new approaches, and their ideas are not criticized because they differ from the leader’s ideas.  (Bass, Transformational Leadership)

This also reflects tenets of Empowerment as articulated by Max De Pree, Warren Bennis, Burt Nanus, James Kouzes, Barry Pozner, and others. De Pree emphasizes “defining reality” toward “organizational renewal.” Bennis and Nanus list among their main ideas “creating social architecture,” “strong determination,” and “enrolling people in a vision.” Kouzes and Posner call it “challenging the process by confronting and changing the status quo.”

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