In my last post I introduced the belief that a leader must first become an axiom leader, or a leader of understanding, before she can truly lead her organization to greatness. Jim Collins, in his influential work Good to Great, called these axiom leaders Level 5 Leaders. He found that Level 5 Leaders had a curious combination of humility + professional will. They were determined and driven yet humble leaders. With this unique leadership combination they attracted and led a talented team to help achieve greatness. Mr. Collins instructed that the first step to achieving greatness was having a Level 5 Leader.
If having a Level 5 is so important, how does one become a Level 5 leader if they do not already have natural humility + professional will? I’ve thought a lot about this and searched for principles that could help guide a willing participant in this leadership transformation. Interestingly enough, I’ve found the principles included in the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous to be a proven methodology for Level 5 / axiom leadership transformation. If the process can change lives and liberate individuals from serious addiction, the principles must have enough power to guide a willing participant to change their ways of leadership. I know this may seem extreme, but I believe true principles are sometimes confirmed through extreme testing. AA has a lot of success, which tells me they are using proven principles.
The AA program may not be a literal path for leadership transformation, but the underlying principles are. It is the organization of those principles into the 12 steps that I find most intriguing and brilliant. I will go through each of the steps, identify the principle, and discuss how a leader can apply the principles to become an authentic axiom leader.
In my next post I will focus on the first step to becoming an axiom leader – Honesty.