Let the “etc.” speak for itself

Leadership…  it’s everywhere and it takes so many forms.

If you haven’t read the book  Good To Great , by Jim Collins, the term “Level 5 Leadership”  may not mean much to you.  The term is coined by Jim Collins as the highest level of leadership.  Collins actually admits that it is very difficult to define Level 5 in simple terms, but he uses some real life examples to make his case.

One of those examples is Dave Packard.  The same Packard that makes up the household name Hewlett-Packard.

Even though I read Good To Great several years ago, the following excerpt made such an impact on me, I still think about it on a regular basis:

Shortly before his death, I had the opportunity to meet Dave Packard.  Despite being one of Silicon Valley’s first self-made billionaires, he lived in the same small house that he and his wife built for themselves in 1957, overlooking a simple orchard.  The tiny kitchen, with its dated linoleum, and the simply furnished living room bespoke a man who needed no material symbols to proclaim “I’m a billionaire.  I’m important.  I’m successful.”  “His idea of a good time,” said Bill Terry, who worked with Packard for thirty-six years, “was to get some of his friends together to string barbed wire.”  Packard bequethed his $5.6 billion estate to a charitable foundation and, upon his death, his family created a eulogy pamphlet, with a photo of him sitting on a tractor in farming clothes.  The caption made no reference to his stature as one of the great industrialists of the twentieth century.  It simply read:

“David Packard, 1912 – 1996, Rancher, etc.”

Level 5, indeed.

page 193, Good To Great

There’s a man who let the “etc.” speak for itself.  His life spoke louder than any words could describe.

So, I see a lot of people trying to “bark up” their own reputation without going through the work of developing one.  It makes me smile because in a microwave culture, we think that great P.R. is the key to success.  We need more leaders like Dave Packard.  His example of humility, continual drive for excellence and healthy view of life’s priorities is a great role model.

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