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Level 5 Leadership, The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.

Level 5 Leadership The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve
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Dear Colleagues,

This June, we will hold the 8th Annual Meeting of the CSS (Del Coronado Hotel, San Diego, June 17, 2023). A portion of this meeting will be devoted to leadership and professional/personal development. This session will be led by Alan Friedman, MA, The Founder & CEO of J3P Healthcare Solutions ( ). In anticipation of our meeting, I’d like to share with you a classic article on leadership. Some of you may not have heard of Jim Collins, but his two books on leadership are a must-read (“Good to Great” and “Great by Choice”). Attached is his classic article published in HBR. The short summary is included as well. I believe you’ll find this useful, whether you are an academic surgeon, a private practice surgeon, or an employee of a large medical company. I look forward to seeing you at our 8th Annual meeting in San Diego this June.

Instructions for RSVPing for the meeting: Please email Dr. JP Warner (, Argen Omurzakov (, and Michael Navarro ( with the information below if you plan to attend our annual meeting:


Company or organization:

Your position in the company or organization

I definitely plan to attend:

I may attend:

Kind Regards,

Jon “JP” Warner, MD

Founder, The CSS

Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility & Fierce Resolve, HBR, Jan 1, 2001


Boards of directors typically believe that transforming a company from good to great requires an extreme personality, an egocentric chief to lead the corporate charge. Think “Chainsaw” AI Dunlap or Lee Iacocca. But that’s not the case, says author and leadership expert Jim Collins. The essential ingredient for taking a company to greatness is having a “Level 5” leader, an executive in whom extreme personal humility blends paradoxically with intense professional will. In this 2001 article, Collins paints a compelling and counterintuitive portrait of the skills and personality traits necessary for effective leadership. He identifies the characteristics common to Level 5 leaders: humility, will, ferocious resolve, and the tendency to give credit to others while assigning blame to themselves. Collins fleshes out his Level 5 theory by telling colorful tales about 11 such leaders from recent business history. He contrasts the turnaround successes of outwardly humble, even shy, executives like Gillette’s Colman M. Mockler and Kimberly-Clark’s Darwin E. Smith with those of larger-than-life business leaders like Dunlap and Iacocca, who courted personal celebrity. Some leaders have the Level 5 seed within; some don’t. But Collins suggests using the findings from his research to strive for Level 5-for instance, by getting the right people on board and creating a culture of discipline. “Our own lives and all that we touch will be the better for making the effort,” he concludes.


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