Jim Collins, a former professor at Stanford Business School and founder of his own management research laboratory, had already become well-known in management circles for his first book, Built to Last (HarperCollins, 1994).
But with his recent book Good to Great (HarperCollins, 2001), he became an even more established name in the Christian business world—quite an accomplishment given that Collins has no affiliation with Christianity.
Many of his findings resonated with the Christian audience, however, particularly the concept of Level 5 Leadership. Collins and his research team discovered that leaders who took their companies from good to great were not larger-than-life figures that typify today's celebrity CEO culture, but instead were characterized by a unique blend of humility and resolve. As Collins explains in his book, "Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company."
Collins spoke about his findings with former CT assistant editor Helen Lee.
Good to Great has struck a nerve with Christian leaders, who have latched on to your concept of Level 5 Leadership. Were you surprised by what your results showed about leadership?
I am delighted that so many people in the Christian community resonate with the Level 5 concept. They probably feel tension between the brutal competitiveness of the outside world and their inner faith and being a type of person that the New Testament calls you to be. If you thought you had to be an anti-level 5 to be successful, but now you find this evidence that your instincts were right all along, that can be powerful.
I should point out that we were not looking for Level 5. This is very important. I really dislike leadership answers, ...