Podcast Episode 49 – How Do You Become a Level 5 Leader?


Are you a genius with 1,000 helpers? If so, how do you become a level 5 leader?

Do you find yourself or a colleague surrounded by people who are helping, but not taking ownership? Do you notice that if you want to get a project done, then it’s up to you to ensure that it gets done?

If this is the case, then perhaps you’re an effective leader or a level 4 leader, but not a level 5 executive. In order to build a truly great, enduring company a level 5 leader is required. This occurs through a paradoxical combination of personal humility and professional will.

The problem is that for most leaders the capabilities necessary to get to level 4 will actually prevent them from getting to level 5.

In this episode of The Growth Whisperers, Kevin and Brad discuss the key symptom of a level 4 leader, what Jim Collins calls ‘the genius with 1,000 helpers’. They discuss:

  • The problems with being a genius with 1,000 helpers
  • How it prevents the best people from joining your team and those who do from achieving their best
  • The potential damages this causes to your business
  • How you can become a Level 5 Leader



Episode Transcript

Please note that this episode was transcribed using an AI application and may not be 100% grammatically correct – but it will still allow you to scan the episode for key content.

Brad Giles  00:12

Hi there, and welcome to the growth whispers, where everything that we talk about is building enduring great companies. My name is Brad Giles. And I’m joined as always, with my co host, Kevin Lawrence how are you today?

Kevin Lawrence  00:26

I’m doing great today, Brad, it’s a good day, this is we’re gonna jump right into my word of the day. And it’s FOMO fear of missing out. And normally I’d be in India this week. So all week, I’m doing the night shift going from 6pm till you know, 12pm or 1am with my amazing clients in India. And then like my three Indian brothers, and you know, normally go to India once a year, and then go and we’d meet in another country, somewhere else in here. And so, we’ve been doing these virtual sessions, which is insanely efficient, we’re getting all the stuff done. Like it’s awesome. We just don’t get to hang out and have half the time together. So today, last night, they had the evening before with their whole executive because they’re meeting in person and they can do that in India. And then they got the two full days of strategy, which I’m dropping in to, you know, do a few things but I don’t get to be there and hang out with with the with my three Indian brothers and my extended Indian family and which we always have a riot together. So yeah, I’m feeling like I’m missing out like I don’t, you know, get the joys of the travel and, you know, the airplane time to think and such. But more than not the quality time with my family over there. And so yeah, it’s a little sad and a little mad, like I’m missing. I am I am missing out. I’d like to think that they’re missing out too. But for sure I’m missing out. So that’s awesome. That’s my word. FOMO is the word of the day. Okay, well, you.

Brad Giles  02:01

Yeah, so my phrase is surrender as a strategy, surrender as a strategy. Now, that’s not what you might think. But we’ve got a case of it where I live. So we’ve got a state election coming up this weekend. Yeah, now, we don’t normally talk about politics. And I’ve got no interest in politics. But I do have an interest in strategy. Okay. And so what’s happening in our, in our parliament, we have like everywhere in the world, pretty much we’ve got a left and a right side of politics. The left side of politics are currently in power. And the premier of our state has about 90% approval rating. Right, absolutely crazy. We’re 59 seats in the parliament. And he’s likely to get like 56 seats or something like that. So the right, the opposition in the right. They’ve conceded the election two weeks before the election to say, yeah, I’ve never heard of it before. So surrender is a strategy. Really. They’ve said, we’re not going to

Kevin Lawrence  03:09

know what the guy in the US did. He surrendered as a strategy is not how he approached it. Maybe it’s becoming a new thing.

Brad Giles  03:15

Maybe it is the new black? Who knows? Yeah, it’s, yeah. So about two or three weeks before the election, he came out. And he said, I concede, there’s no way we’re gonna win. This is a massive risk to democracy, if like, they’re looking at only winning two seats of the 59 seat parliament, they said, this is going to be a really bad thing. So when you really think about it, like it’s crazy, but at the same time, it’s surrender as a strategy. He’s given up and said, you’re going to give all of this power to one person, this is going to be a really bad idea.

Kevin Lawrence  03:53

We could do a whole podcast on that one. Because it’s, you know, it’s it. There’s another way, it’s like, there’s another saying your first loss is your best loss. Like, you made a bad choice, it ain’t work and cut your losses now versus persisting to the end, and putting the additional energy and money into it. That’s a it’s not in our nature to surrender. That’s why there’s such a reaction to that one. I like that.

Brad Giles  04:17

Yeah, it’s different. And that’s why I made it my phrase of the day or word of the day, because it’s just, it’s something that you don’t see. But you think, yeah, you know, it’s the best chance that they’ve got to get the highest number of seats.

Kevin Lawrence  04:31

So what are you going to surrender to?

Brad Giles  04:36

What am I going to watch? What am I going to surrender to

Kevin Lawrence  04:41

need to surrender? Where do you need to surrender? Brad?

Brad Giles  04:47

I don’t know if you’re asking me or asking me rhetorically because I’m asking you. I’m asking, like, seriously, like,

Kevin Lawrence  04:54

what I’m thinking about myself.

Brad Giles  04:56

What am I gonna? Well, well, maybe the question is Where do you need to surrender to have to support your strategy?

Kevin Lawrence  05:08

And say yes, and where is and this will tie into today’s show? Where is your ego in the way? Yeah, and not allowing you to surrender when it’s probably a very logical thing to do.

Brad Giles  05:25

Because for that leader of Parliament, it would have, it would have been a very humble move to concede it, you know, like, you’re not known for that kind of thing. It would have been a very tough decision. You know, one of my favorite books as I try to avoid your question is ego. Ego is the enemy by Ryan Holiday. I just love it. Yeah, I encourage all of my clients to, to read that book. Probably one of my top books in the last few years, actually, that is, ego is the enemy by Ryan Holiday. Yeah, because your ego does get in the way. It does preventing you from, you know, achieving what you really want. It’s like there’s a, there’s a little somebody inside of you that’s working actively against you.

Kevin Lawrence  06:16

Yeah, and your ego, there’s a healthy part of ego that drives you to make amazing things happen. But then there’s a toxic piece inside of there’s another, you know, another probably one of my most impactful books in the last couple years is a book called, oh, positive intelligence. And the way that the author shoreside teaches that is you’ve got, you’ve got a sub A tour on one side, who’s kind of a negative force. And then you have a sage, which is the wise one on the other side, like the devil in the angel, and they’re fighting all the time. And whichever voice dominates or is loudest inside your head is the direction you tend to go. And this can be tied into ego, there’s a part of your ego that’s wise and wants to make a difference. There’s your part of ego that is frail, and wants to protect itself and get you into trouble. So yeah, and in order to make a move like that, it would be the stage or the healthy part of your drive, that would get you to surrender. And so what did you say you were going to surrender to?

Brad Giles  07:22

Look, I don’t know, I need to think about it more. That’s the honest answer by Why don’t you lead the way?

Kevin Lawrence  07:32

You know, it’s interesting, I’m working on a project right now. And it’s probably gonna cost more than I want. No, I already got the number, it’s gonna cost more than I want. I was meeting with the contract of the day. And I’m like, Yeah, like that number. And so, you know, it’s, there’s a price in this world for the things that I want and the quality of things that I want. And so I think I’m gonna have to surrender that. I don’t like to compromise on some things. And truly, that it’s okay to, you know, that I’m going to probably spend the extra money to get what I want. I gotta surrender to, you know, Value Engineering, the project on stuff that I don’t care about, take that cost out. But on the other stuff, that it’s just okay. And if it really matters, then I should just pay it and surrender does what it’s gonna cost. And don’t worry about it too much.

Brad Giles  08:23

I probably got an answer to your question briefly, because I don’t suspect you’re going to leave us alone. And our poor listeners want to get on and hurt hear about the

Kevin Lawrence  08:30

listeners. Don’t you want to know, what is our wonderful friend Brad going to surrender to? And yeah, little drumroll Come on. Here it is. Here it is. He’s had a few minutes to think. And now it’s coming. Here it is. Wait for it. Over to you, Brad. Appreciate that.

Brad Giles  08:46

Yeah, it’s so it’s not what I’m going to it’s what I’ve already surrendered to. So I’m writing a book about onboarding new hires. And I’ve done a very large research study that for any author, the challenge is not to write a bigger book, it’s to write a shorter book. Yes. So I’ve surrendered to omit things that are interesting, but not relevant, because effectively the objective of the book is that any leader should be able to give it to any manager who hires and say, just read this book. And it’s got to be short enough. That’s the overall objective. So I’ve had to surrender my intellectual curiosity and validating all these points through 25 different angles, to be able to make the overall objective.

Kevin Lawrence  09:35

Perfect. Awesome. Well, I was very interesting. So surrendering and FOMO, when I’m sure they’re tied together in some way, but we’ll leave that for another time. So let’s drop into today’s show. What what are we doing today? We kind of gave a hint to it when we talked about humility. So what are we digging into today, Brad?

Brad Giles  09:54

Yeah, a subject that one of us came across in the last week. That as soon as we communicated with each other about this, we both said Yep, absolutely. Right. So this is the concept of the genius with 1000 helpers. So it’s kind of like the antithesis to true leadership, but is in itself a form of leadership, but it’s like going to stop you getting to where you really want. So what we’re saying is, Are you the genius with 1000 helpers? And if so, how do you get past this to become what we call a true level five leader?

Kevin Lawrence  10:36

Yeah, and in many ways, it’s almost like, are you a genius period, without the caveat, because it’s being a genius. Sounds good. You know, and being smart is good. Also, sometimes it’s a pretty serious liability. So we’ll kind of do and today we’re gonna cover off, you know, Jim Collins, small around level five leader, we’re going to cover that off. And then we’re really going to dig into what are the common almost symptoms? Or what things that we see that cause people kind of to be stuck at a level four and not getting to the level five kind of where the best and even some of the costs, and then probably at the end, we’ll get into some strategies to do it. So should we dig into Collins’s model here that he doesn’t stuff on this broad? That sounds good?

Brad Giles  11:22

Yeah. So Jim Collins, in his work, identified that they’re empirically identified that there are five levels to leadership. And ultimately, that truly great enduring companies are built by only level five executives. So level one at imagine a pyramid at the bottom of the level of the bottom of the pyramid, pardon me, we’ve got level one, which is a highly capable individual, they make productive contributions through talent, knowledge skills, so they’re good, they’re a worker, okay. But they’re individual, they’re not necessarily they don’t necessarily work great in a team, you know, maybe we slide pizzas under the door to them. Level two leader is a contributing team member, okay. So they contribute to the objectives of the whole group in a group setting so that they work well in a group, as opposed to the level one which really works well by themselves. Level Three is a comprehensive

Kevin Lawrence  12:25

before you move on, you want to allow me to share and for those that are watching the video, I’ll flash the graphic of this on the screen, if you wanted to set me up to share. Forget some times that some people are watching on YouTube and then get the visual. So and if you are listening on, on a podcast channel, you can just search up level five leader if you want to see it, or go to the YouTube recording. And here is the example. So continue on Brad, we’ll just leave that model up while you’re describing it.

Brad Giles  12:54

Okay, so we’ve level three is a competent manager, they organize people and resources towards effective and efficient pursuit of predetermine objectives. So that means that someone’s telling them, we need to produce 100 widgets, someone’s telling them that we need, our team needs to sell $10 million. And they do it and they do it well. And they, they can organize the people in the team to be able to achieve that, then we get to level four, which is where so many people get stuck. Okay, that is an effective leader. And that’s really, you know, the basis of today, which is they catalyze commitment to end vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, they stimulate the group to high performance standards. So effective leaders can build really, really good companies. Okay. But the problem is for effective leaders, it’s so much about them. And there isn’t an enduring element to it, the when they leave, there’s like a large vacuum that is left behind. And then of course, we’ve got the level five executive, they build enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus, professional will.

Kevin Lawrence  14:09

So hear us clearly the level four executive is a highly valuable team member, they create an incredible impact in their organization, they rally a team drive a team great, they can get great results. So we’re not saying it’s not good. It’s just not the most effective version, or the or the best version of a leader in organization that level five is so they do make great things happen. They can be excellent people, all kinds of stuff. But in many ways, it’s almost like the distinction between being, you know, a VP in a company and truly being an executive. ie, right, if you looked at that, to get to an executive level or a CEO low, it’s a different skill set and a different perspective. So and they all are great contributors they’re still there. Basically, a low level four leader is still a critical cog in the wheel, a cog in the machine. Things still revolve around it. And it’s an important cog. It’s a well built cog. It’s a strong cog, it’s a smart cog. But without that critical cog, things don’t work.

Brad Giles  15:21

And it’s important to note that the whole mark, of a level four leader is the genius of 1000 help with 1000. helpers. Okay, so, so that’s a great signature that when you and I, Kevin, look at leadership teams, and we can see, we’ve got a genius with 1000 helpers, it’s a hallmark of level four. And the work that we’re doing, and that we’re thinking about is, how can we get this person to transition? to level five? How can we get this person to move to the next level?

Kevin Lawrence  16:00

Correct? And it’s like, I know, when I’m talking to a level five leader different than I’m talking to a low or even how they talk about their people. Yeah, like level five leaders are bragging about people and how they’re insanely good, and make stuff happen and how they don’t really have to be very involved in how they’re almost humbled that this person works with them. It’s amazing. We’re level four leader talks about people more tactically, like they talk about, like, they’re really good. And they’re good at this, and I help them with this. And I have to guide them with this, you know, and I have to run the meetings. And as long as I take it, so there’s a, there’s a, there’s a higher degree of involvement. And they talk about the people, almost like they’re smaller, where the level five leader talks about people like they’re bigger. And, in many ways, yeah, there’s a shift that we’ll talk about later. But this is the way they see things, and we want to kind of touch on it, you know, is it’s an opportunity for these people to grow. And what generally happens and why people get stuck at level four is is is that they get caught and don’t have the ability to think about the business kind of beyond where they’re at. And beyond themselves, they see that they’re critical cog in the system. And they’re focused on being a better cog, which is a noble intent, they want to be a better cog, versus seeing that they actually should not be a cog at all, their goal should be almost to remove themselves from the system, which is counterintuitive, unless you’ve had an amazing level five leader that you reported to, you might not even think this, you know, I wrote in your oxygen mask, first, I have a chapter called make yourself useless. it’s counterintuitive. The best leaders don’t do a lot. They don’t do much at all. they facilitate enable support and resources. But the systems aren’t dependent on them. And it’s just it’s not in people’s nature to engineer themselves out of the system. They’re more likely to and that’s you know, and they’re not bad people. Because you know, as a level four leader, you’re making a lot of decisions, you’re in the middle of the action. Yeah. But you have to make the decisions. And if you don’t, the people around you either aren’t used to it, or are uncomfortable with it. And by the way, I know what you my ego kind of likes making decisions makes me feel good. Makes me feel important. Makes me feel like my experiences valued all kinds of emotional stuff from being the cog in the middle. And, and it provides you meaning and it gives you some sort of purpose. And it holds you and your team back.

Brad Giles  18:44

Yeah. All right. So let’s dig in. We’ve got a few talking points here today. Let’s dig into the so I think we’ve kind of clarified what is level four, it’s certainly something that’s very, very common that we come across. And we know that the difference between a level four and a level five leader is predominantly around humility, it’s around wanting their team members to endure past themselves. So they can that they are humble and they want the business to endure past their own time in the organization to build an enduring, great company. So what have we got here, Kevin? First of all, we’ve got highly capable individual. Yep.

Kevin Lawrence  19:38

Sometimes you got a highly capable inner individual, who sometimes with massive they have a lot of drive and they are trying to do the right things. They just haven’t figured out and maybe we’ll start with the inversion, which you know is later on our list will start about it. Basically the mindset, the inversion everything it takes to become a successful level five leader, and let’s just say to be a vice president in a company, everything it takes is about your ability to deliver and have a team around you supporting you. But it’s like you were accomplishing and these people support you. And it needs to invert. So that your team is the one accomplishing, and you’re the one supporting them. So all of the winds and the pressure sit on your direct reports, shoulders, versus all the pressures sitting on your So basically, it’s a flipping of the accountability and the flipping of the model. And, and, but again, that’s not something that people can see, and are even conscious of that they need to do that, because they’re just so used to carrying the accountability and cross, you know, taking the ball across the line, metaphorically,

Brad Giles  20:51

most of the time, the only way that you can get to be a successful leader, his force of will is just Yes, being like a train that is going 100 miles an hour as fast as you can, and pushing projects through, pushing us pushing your will pushing the decisions making things happen is what gets you from sort of, let’s say the bottom of the org chart to the top of the org chart. But the problem is, you’re not actually at the top of the org chart, you’ve got one next level to go and what got you to level four won’t get you to level five, in fact, it’s the opposite. You need to opposite that. Yeah,

Kevin Lawrence  21:32

so I’ve got an executive, I was doing some work today, he’s being developed for a CEO role. And I was doing some work with him on this today. And, you know, when things got messy at the end of last year, it’s almost like he took the company, he strapped it on his back. And he’s trying to carry it across the finish line to get to their EBITDA target. And he literally is going we had this much gap and I can see him carrying the company on his back. Now. He pissed off some people around him, he drove some people nuts, but his intent was Noble. But that’s level four, it if it must be done, you know, I’ll find a way and these toys. Whereas, you know, a level five leader wouldn’t do that. level five leader would rally the team and have the team figure out what the team’s gonna do. And have the team and then their teams figure out the action plans. And the executives and their people would figure out the plans. And together we would versus if it’s meant to be it’s up to me.

Brad Giles  22:34

And it’s so counter intuitive. It’s you need to unlearn all of the things that you’ve learned through your career, which is so tough to do, right? It’s so so tough to do. So many times, I start working with a leadership team, and everything rests on the entrepreneurs shoulders, just like he said so many times, and they’re like, I don’t know how to get the people around me take responsibility. Like I give them KPIs, and they hear me and they look at them. And they sometimes they do a good job, and they’re good people, but I can’t get them to step up. And that’s because everything that has got you to this point in time is there. And then the amazing thing after a year or two people begin to say it feels like a different leadership team. And then the entrepreneurs are saying, Well, you know, everything, all of the decisions had to be made by me. And now what I’m finding is that I’m only coaching I’m as in dire only coaching, all the decisions are being made by other people in a, I guess, in an authentic setting.

Kevin Lawrence  23:45

And that’s an indicator is Yeah, what percentage of the decisions are being made by Uverse? Your team? And by the way, it’s not true, that all the decisions had to be made by me. The truth is, I made all the decisions. Right? That’s it’s a different habit. So so the ideal so what percentage, you know, and again, and back an oxygen mask, oxygen mask, first oxygen mask, first, the oxygen mask first. You know, the idea is, is one of the principles is stop being chief problem solver, which is something I see, you know, leaders do all the time, and it keeps them at a lower level. And it keeps your team from growing and taking responsibility. And it’s, you know, the threshold says your team should solve 90% of their own challenges and answer 90% of their own questions. Now, that’s a principle the number might change, but that you really, you should be letting them do most stuff. And that’s what the best level five execs do both because they probably know more to make it and their job is to make a decision that they own so that they will make sure to make sure it works.

Brad Giles  24:50

And it’s not only entrepreneurs or CEOs that can suffer this fight true. I’m thinking in people particularly about one organization that I’ve worked with. And there was a senior executive that was accountable for one function in the business. And this person was, by definition level, level four or more importantly, by definition, a genius with 1000 helpers. They didn’t what they wanted, they didn’t want to employ competent people, this person wanted to employ assistance, low level young people, and that person could tell those people what to do that this person could say, you go and achieve that task and get that done. And then I’ll give you the next task.

Kevin Lawrence  25:38

Yeah, great point. So so let’s kind of go through a couple of the main high points here. So one is, you know, say or off one indicator where people get stuck, they say or operate, like, if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me, right? Like it’s on their shoulders, they’re the one accountable. Second, and we see this in companies. And it’s pretty obvious, but there’s a massive, a big capability gap between that person and their leaders or managers underneath them. And I think, you know, it’s a great point you call though this is not just about CEO at any level in your organization, you could be a level five leader, but they, but the competence, the capability gap, and whether it’s, they haven’t thought about building stronger people, or they have strong people, but because they’re making decisions for them and not challenging them enough. It keeps them small.

Brad Giles  26:27

And that’s such a great point, what’s if you look at any business that you can think of, or any team, with a leader, what’s the difference in capability and competence between the leader and the person who reports to the leader? Because if it’s two or three levels, okay, that’s a really important sign that you’ve got a genius with 1000 helpers problem, yes, if they’re about on the same level, and they can argue and debate at an equal level of competence, then that that may be maybe a sign that they’re not suffering from this problem, but it’s kind of everywhere to a degree as well,

Kevin Lawrence  27:05

it is, and it’s hard for some people to have really incredibly good people on our teams, right, it takes a lot of humility and confidence to have outstanding people around you because they should be smarter than you in their particular area, they should. And if you’re doing the right thing for an organization, they should be able to take your job. And but that’s not something that everyone is up to. So that’s, that’s another one the capability gap, massive assign, and tied with that how they speak about those people, even the way they look at them is a sign that’s similar. You already touched on this. But you know, you know, if you left the business, there’d be a really big hole. And and and that your division or your team could fall on their face, ie your leadership is critical for their success. ie, you know, without you things don’t work. And that’s, that’s an indicator that you’re closer to that genius with 1000.

Brad Giles  28:05

What went on looking to engage with a leader, one of the things that I’m asking myself is, it has this person got the capability to get to level five. Okay, so I want to work with companies that become enduring great businesses. That’s, that’s kind of the preface that I use. So the person who’s running the business or owns a business has to have that capability that I can tap into and get them there. Like, that’s, it’s kind of like, one of my, my rules. So I go back to the previous point that you made. I remember, I met with a unnamed leader. And, and we met a few times, and this person was telling me time and time again, how all of the people he was surrounded by were absolutely incompetent, how they, you know, he, he went to great extremes to say how bad they were. And yeah, it’s just, it was just one of the many signs that made me think this person isn’t doing it because he’s necessarily surrounded by incompetent people. Okay, he thinks that he’s the smartest person in the room, which is a problem. There’s no humility there. by us. I couldn’t, there was nothing that I could tap that could transitioning out of level five, sorry, out of level four into level five. And, that really goes back to what you said. That, you know, if, if that person left the business, would there be a dangerous hole? In that role? Yeah, because he was keeping them down. He just thought that they were no good.

Kevin Lawrence  29:48

Yeah, and if you find yourself thinking you’re the smartest person in the room. That’s a dangerous thought. Right. And you technically may have the highest EQ or most experience in the room. You might, but or you might not, oh, and it might not matter. But if you’re thinking that you’re way smarter, your brain starts to close. And you’re not able to leverage the brains of those people around you, or in many ways, respect the brains of those people around you. And that’s a real dangerous, slippery slope. And even, you know, the most effective level five leaders have had the honor of working with, they’re going to listen to perspectives from anyone.

Brad Giles  30:26

Yeah, right.

Kevin Lawrence  30:27

Now, they might not agree with them, but they are going to truly listen and take them in. And if it fits, they take it on board. If not, they they they don’t. Yeah, that’s, and that would tie into the next one, Brad, is that you know, that, you know, you as a leader, or someone on your team, if you’re thinking of this, finds it hard to get or keep good people. Right, like level five leaders, people want to work for them. They want they attract talent. And people don’t want to leave, because it’s an environment where people thrive. And so if you’re finding it hard to get them, you might have a bad reputation. Or keep them maybe people don’t love working with you. And it’s not that level five leaders don’t challenge people as much they do. But the genius with 1000 helpers, there’s almost a built in undervaluing or disrespect of the person, because you’re treating them like they’re not that intelligent, or capable.

Brad Giles  31:25

You don’t understand Kevin, it’s really hard to get people who were who would great in the way you’re describing to work in our area, or industry, or in our geography or whatever it is, you don’t understand, right? This is what we hear all the time, you don’t understand. And when someone says to you, you don’t understand, it’s really hard to get people to work effectively in this industry, you know? Is it the industry? Or is it the geography? Or is it you because to pick up on that point, and your previous point, like the job of a level five leader is to tap the native genius inside the people who report to them to, to actually to find that, that spark of genius, and to amplify and amplify and amplify it, because that’s where the respect comes from. And you can only do that if you’re coming from a base of humility,

Kevin Lawrence  32:28

yes, and a base of believing in other people and their ability to grow and improve. And the idea that you are indeed very replaceable in your organization. Right, but that comes from humility. And that humility is knowing that you have great strengths. It’s not you know, about being a wet man, what you know, noodle is you have great strengths. And there are other great people that, that you can work well with and learn from and teach to them as well. And that someone else could do your job better than you. You know, and maybe that might take some time or learning or development, the humility is, is critical. And the thing about the humility is, is you don’t need it to be about you. You don’t need the limelight, you don’t need to be the one seen as making the decision that you’re happy. And I see this in meetings when I work with level fives is that when there’s something to be done, they’ll step back and say, Hey, team members, you know, please want you guys present it or team, what is your recommendation? And they will step back and step out of the way and let those people do great work versus having to look like they’re versus having to look like their work.

Brad Giles  33:36

Yeah, now audio engineer just had a heart attack, because you stopped back to demonstrate it to me, but the audio and when I stepped back

Kevin Lawrence  33:44

to did to get quieter Brad, the farther I stepped back.

Brad Giles  33:46

Yeah, for all Brandon’s having heart failure right now. So but I want to pick up on what you said, right? Because what’s happening, or you know, another way to put it is, who’s the, when you’re in a meeting with your team, as a CEO, or as a leader of a team? Who’s the last person to speak? Okay, it’s a really small and simple thing to do. But if you’re the first person to speak, okay, everyone else is going to fall into line with what you’re saying. Okay, and that and that. And it’s a simple, simple tool, but in every workshop that I do, every single one, I ask the, the one of the least hierarchical persons on the org chart in the room, if that makes any sense at all, to speak first. So the last person

Kevin Lawrence  34:48

people with the lowest power or authority. Correct. Thank you for that. Yes,

Brad Giles  34:52

that’s exactly Thank you. The very last person will be the CEO. Okay, be and then if there’s another person like the COO there’ll be the second last. So I want all authority to speak last. Because that a gets the people without authority to think for themselves. And it forces humility and it forces difference of opinion. And it begins to tap the genius of others. And ultimately, what I’m trying to mechanically do is get a transition that leader to think about always speaking, last, and then that is one of the level five traits,

Kevin Lawrence  35:31

same, Brad, and sometimes, you know, leaders are so again, most of our core contacts through CEOs, but they’re so keen to help and be of service and be a value. They jump in and offer their opinions. And many times I’ll have to pull them aside and say, Hey, love it for you to be last. And when I go through and do a wrap up, I always similarly go to the CEO last now, there’s a few partners in the business, I might mix it up a little bit. But the lead partner or a managing partner or CEO, always, always the last to comment ideally, on everything, because they skew the conversation on how would you remember, I think we chatted about this before, you know, one organization, the CEO started using an iPad in a meeting before another organization, they all had this hits the CEO had the certain type of shoes, lo and behold, people are wearing those guys shoes. The best one is, and this is a company that the people don’t travel that much. The CEO has one of those briefcases on wheels or briefcases, on wheels, like lawyers have. Everyone’s got a briefcase on wheels, it was hilarious. Because it’s, you know, the power and influence that a leader has and at any level, it gets role modeled and followed in on some of the stuff we don’t necessarily want following one open thing. So

Brad Giles  36:58

and all of that, that you’ve just said, small byproduct of the force of will that’s got that lead to that position. Yeah, all of those things, okay. But the great leaders, now, the level five leaders step back, and they tap the genius of others, they get the other people to think for themselves, and they find every opportunity to not interfere with their individual thinking, and, and getting those people to be great in their own right.

Kevin Lawrence  37:33

Yep, absolutely. Next thing is, is, you know, that, you know, the thing that shows up for genius with 1000 helpers, it’s, it’s hard or hard work, to get people to deliver to their expectations. Right, because in many ways, and you know, they’re closer in the direction to like a taskmaster and, and getting people to do work on their behalf. And it’s just harder to get people to deliver because you’re setting people up in a more tactical role. Sometimes they’re not as involved in the big picture, or they’re not involved in decisions as much, they’re more just executing. And it’s an indicator of, of ours, one of things that level four leaders are geniuses with 1000 helpers have because they’re always trying to get better helpers and get better stuff out of their helpers.

Brad Giles  38:19

And maybe you think it’s because they don’t have the ambition, or they’re not as hungry. Or maybe you think it’s because they’re not as determined. But the problem is, is that ultimately you are paying their mortgage, you are paying their salary. And if you have such a high force of will, and you are driving everything to get executed all the time. They’re gonna sit back and they’re gonna say, Okay, what would you like me to do? Hands off here? Tell me what you want me to do. If you want me to do 30? I’ll do 30 if you want me to do 77, I’ll do 77. That’s what I’ll do. Because we’re there simply complying to what you want them to do, because that’s your opera. Oh, yeah, that’s your operating mechanism. I’m going to force it through.

Kevin Lawrence  39:10

Tony, which takes us into the next point is that you find yourself to be the driver of and accountable for many projects. You are the Oh, you’re the genius with 50 projects, or 20 projects or 10 projects. But where it’s You’re the one leading the meetings, you’re the ones whose names beside the accountability. You’re the one driving it, you’re the one troubleshooting it. So, you know, that’s and man, we appreciate it in the companies were thank you for owning and driving those projects. It’s great because it gets us results as a company, but it inhibits your growth. It inhibits your team’s growth and you’re probably going to burn yourself out if you haven’t already because you’re carrying too much on your shoulders.

Brad Giles  39:55

So yesterday, I’m working with a leadership team and they’re looking at putting in an asset map. Management System, okay, so that every machine or whatever it is has a barcode on it, and it’s got its own code, and it’s all in software. And the CEO says, I’m the only one that can do it. Okay, hang on. Wait, wait, wait, wait, what do you mean, you’re the only one that can? Okay, you’ve already got seven priorities this quarter of which my best guess is you’ll probably do two, maybe three. Okay. And so you’re saying that you will only? What about all of these? Are the people that are I in this room and be in the company? Is there any way that you can get other people to do it? Well, they just won’t, they just won’t do it the same way as me. Okay? What’s gonna happen if they don’t, they’ll stuff it up. Like, you’ve got to be able to pass things off, you’ve got to, you’ve got to, you’ve got to tap that genius of others.

Kevin Lawrence  40:49

Yeah. And, and the way that you start that is by making people accountable, and it sits on their shoulders, and it’s their job to figure out, it’s their job to come to you if they need help. And that’s how you build leaders. It’s also how you free yourself up as a leader and take your helpers and make them their own leaders, because that’s really we’re talking about is going from a genius of 1000 helpers to germaneness, level five leader and the only way you can do it is to turn your helpers into leaders. Yeah, because when your helpers become leaders, well, then great things happen. And they’re thrilled to the whole system benefits. But as long as your helpers are helpers, man, I hope you really take care of your resilience rituals, you’re gonna need it.

Brad Giles  41:30

Yeah, yeah. And that’s exactly what we did in that meeting yesterday, is I forced the issue as I demonstrate it, and I said, Look, so why don’t we give it off to this person, or that person or that person, we identified a person, I said, Look, let’s make them accountable, we’ll just set a meeting in about two and a half months time between the two of you put it in your calendar now that that person will come back with this result. And you don’t have to touch it. In the meantime, you can check in if you like it a weekly meeting, but you don’t have to touch it. But let’s just get someone else to do that.

Kevin Lawrence  42:09

Yep, perfect. Perfect. So now, and this is tied into the comment that we made about, you know, your helpers becoming leaders is, is not having too many, too many level two or three leaders, you got to have enough level fours, if you want to be a level five, right, that’s just a measure of the type of leader pretty is pretty, pretty straightforward. So the root of all of this is that level four leaders.

Brad Giles  42:36

Just to clarify that point. Sorry. Are you surrounded by level twos? Who were contributing team members? Are you surrounded by level threes? Who are competent managers? Or are you surrounded by level fours, which are effective leaders is the point that we want to make? They’re correct. Because we want you to be surrounded by level fours, not level threes, or level twos.

Kevin Lawrence  43:01

Yeah, in many ways, it’s almost like a math equation. If you want to be a level five yourself, you need some level fours around you, if you’ve got a whole bunch of level ones, and you’re trying to be a level five, the system won’t work, especially at scale, the system won’t work, you’re gonna get sucked down to driving projects and leading projects level one is a highly capable individual. Right? Yeah. And that’s, you know, you’re not able to be at your best. So, all we’re really getting here, this genius with 1000 helpers is a normal place for people to get to in their world, whether it’s a as you know, no matter where it is an organization, it’s a normal place to be where you’re a critical cog and leader on the team. And you helped orchestrate a lot of stuff and make a lot of stuff happen, but you’re in the middle of it. Versus stepping aside, I’ll stay close to my microphone, this time, staying, stepping aside and getting the people to be the ones that are fully having ownership of the systems and the programs and the goals. And you’re there was a support piece, right? And it’s like you might lubricate the gears a little bit, but you’re not running the gears you’re not in the middle of the system. And that creates trust and growth and accountability for people. And for you. The whole idea is when you can shift to a level five, you can handle more responsibility without as much burden. you’re developing amazing people. And then you can focus outside of operational stuff and get more strategic where there can be much greater value add because you’re not caught in the daily firefighting near as much.

Brad Giles  44:35

Yeah. So it’s, it’s understanding that what got you here to level four won’t get you there. If you have said, Gee, this is terrible. I’ve got it. I am a genius with 1000 helpers out. And the worst part is I created this myself. It’s okay. It’s normal. But now you’ve got to understand you’ve got to unlearn the force of will that got you here? Embrace humility and begin to identify and tap the genius of those around you and get them accountable for things so that you can escalate and get them accountable for those things themselves rather than you.

Kevin Lawrence  45:16

And one quick shift, and you know, I think I can move between level four and level five, I’m, you know, there’s some things where I can get sucked down to level four. And as our firm is growing, you know, a great catalyst is brought someone on the team who is definitely a level five leader, and outs and, and a player outstanding at what he does. And I think some of the other team members would also be like that, but this one in particular, he’s outstanding. And I also know that if I am going to work well with him, I have to be a level five, I cannot be a level four and manage a level five. So my level five tendencies come out much more so. And it’s easier and I see different things. And again, yeah, I have awesome, awesome team, but my behavior has to change, the stronger my team gets, the more my behavior has to change. And the more it needs to be in that level five zone most of the time, not striving for perfection, that’s my own experience. So if you really want to make a move, hire someone or get someone or a team who is a player level five leader, and use that as a great catalyst for your own growth if needed.

Brad Giles  46:28

Yeah, so because let’s remember this concept come from originally Good to Great, and analysis of, you know, very, very successful companies. And the great leaders will level five, the good companies, it had level four leaders, so they were still incredibly successful. But the difference was, they weren’t in during when the leader left, there was a vacuum. And that success kind of imploded in on itself. Because it was all about the leader.

Kevin Lawrence  47:02

Now, let’s be honest, would you want to work for a level four leader if you had a choice? Or would you want to work for level five?

Brad Giles  47:10

Well, everyone knows the answer to that everyone wants to work for level five, everyone because you’re more valued.

Kevin Lawrence  47:17

Yes. And if we pick up where we started, and we talked about surrender, level five does surrender a lot more. They have incredible will and humility, but they leave things to other people, which makes them feel good and accountable and valued. So surrender, and they have less of the FOMO because they don’t need to be in the action. Do you like how he tied those two together? they surrender more using Brad’s keyword. And they’re more relaxed around FOMO. They don’t feel like they’re missing out by not being in the middle of the action. They’re more comfortable being a leader on the side, or away.

Brad Giles  47:55

I wouldn’t say it’s as good as Canadian, some of the Canadian cheese that we’ve experienced in the past, but it’s pretty good. All right. So with that, let’s move to close. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed this discussion about the genius and 1000 helpers, a problem that we come across all the time. This has been the growth whispers podcast, my name is Brad Giles. And you can find me if you so desire at evolution partners.com.au and my co-host, Kevin Lawrence at Lawrenceandco.com. So thanks for watching. We hope you can aspire and achieve your level five leadership and we look again to seeing you next week. Well hearing from you next week. Enjoy

Kevin Lawrence  48:39

have an awesome week.