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Good to Great . Chapter 2 – Level 5 leadership. Darwin Smith. “Best example of taking a good company and making it great” CEO of Kimberly-Clark 20 Years Stock Returns 4.1 times higher during his time Not a typical leader but used Level 5 Leadership. Level 5 Leadership.

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good to great

Good to Great

Chapter 2 – Level 5 leadership

darwin smith
Darwin Smith
  • “Best example of taking a good company and making it great”
  • CEO of Kimberly-Clark 20 Years
  • Stock Returns 4.1 times higher during his time
  • Not a typical leader but used Level 5 Leadership
level 5 leadership
Level 5 Leadership

“Level 5” Refers to a five-level hierarchy of executive capabilities with Level 5 at the top.

Humility + Will = Level 5

“Level 5 Leaders are ambitious… first and foremost for the company, not themselves”


“Leadership is the answer to everything” is like saying “God is the answer to everything”

  • Where did Level 5 Come From?
    • Collins ignored executives
    • Team Disagreed
    • Found that Level 5 Leadership was consistent in all great companies
    • Comparison companies lacked Level 5 Leadership
ambition for the company setting up successors for success
Ambition for the Company: Setting Up Successors for Success
  • Key part in making business sustainable and ultimately making the business great.
  • Ambition first and foremost for the company and concern for its success rather than one’s own riches and personal renown.
  • In over 3 quarters of the comparison companies successors were setup for failure, or chose weak successors, or both.
a compelling modesty
A Compelling Modesty
  • Not to be confused with false modesty
  • Great leaders tended to place more emphasis on others and the company, rather than themselves.
  • Did not take credit for themselves, even where it was due.
  • “Seemingly ordinary people producing extraordinary results.”
unwavering resolve to do what must be done
Unwavering Resolve… to Do What Must Be Done
  • Level 5 leaders are driven to produce results
  • You must be willing to do whatever it takes
  • Promoting from within = stronger resolve
the window in the mirror
The Window in the Mirror
  • Level 5 leaders look out the window to apportion credit to factors outside themselves when things go well
  • At the same time, they look in the mirror to apportion responsibility, never blaming bad luck when things go poorly
  • Simplified, they accept blame for bad, and give credit to others for good.
level 5 summarized
Level 5 Summarized
  • Modesty & Humility
    • Someone who does not care about the credit
    • Accepts blame for failures – but does not give up
  • Will
    • Direct ambitions towards companies’ goals first and foremost
    • Strong Resolve
atypical leadership characteristics
Atypical Leadership Characteristics
  • Tend to be introverts
  • Less charismatic
  • Highly motivated (not really atypical)
  • Motivated more by success of company than themselves