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How to Become a Level 5 Leader

Posted May 03 2011 12:48pm

It takes a special kind of leader to take an orginization, company or government from being good to a state of greatness. These Leaders are called Level 5 leaders illustrated in the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

So what is the link to Meditation with creating a Level 5 leader? In this article we explore how Compassion is the keystone to creating this unique and powerful type of leader -the practice of Meditation both formally and informally throughout our everyday lives is one of our most powerful tools to develop the capacity for compassion.

Returning to a Mindful state throughout your day; to your breath, body sensations, emotions, feelings and thoughts we create the capacity for resilience – a resilience that trumps reactivity to negative stressors and judgments towards others and in turn providing us with the capacity to contemplate and reflect, acting with compassion and for the greater good.

Below you will find a chart that shows the basics of Compassion, and the essence of Level 5 Leadership. In addition to being highly capable in the present role this type of leadership posesses two important qualities:

  • Humility
  • Ambition


From research it has been found that because a Level 5 Leader has a driving ambition for the greater good – they actually don’t feel the need to inflate their own egos’ to achieve what it is that they wish to achieve.

This is an essential reality for those on the pedestal and when they embrace this they, according to research, make the best business leaders

If you look at the chart above, it has been found that the cognitive (ability to perceive, remember, analyze) and affective (ability to relate and feel) components of compassion provide the opportunity for a Leader to:

  • understand people
  • empathize with people

In turn these two essential elements inhibit/tone down the “excessive self-obsession” that is inherently within us. This “Excessive Self-Obsession” is a state that can turn a critical scenario or relationship sour, very quickly .

When you tone down the “Excessive Self-Obsession” this creates the conditions for humility – the capacity to be humble and free of arrogance.

So in conclusion practicing Compassion is an essential way to grow as a level 5 leader, but that’s not it – in the next article I will explore how introducing it into the workplace creates an Efficient Workforce, each employee inspiring the next towards the greater good of the organization.

Below you will find a video from Chade-Meng Tan of Google giving a comprehensive overview of how they do this at Google.

Google believes leadership begins with character.

In response to this they have created the Search inside yourself personal development Program, The Modern Meditation Program which I provide to companies is based on this program – and it includes the following:

Here are Chade-Meng’s final words from the presentation, which I feel are a great resolution to live by:

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