The Qualities Of A Level 5 Leader And The Case Of Darwin Smith At Kimberly-Clark

Background on Darwin Smith and Kimberly-Clark

The qualities as a leader which Darwin had, clearly justifies that he was a level 5 leader. Some of the qualities which Smith possessed are as follows:

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  1. Focus on achieving goals: He was really focused and had an aim in his mind that he wanted to make the company great from good. He would not expect no for an answer as what he needed, he achieved.
  2. No Mediocrity: The level 5 leaders clearly know that there are three things which are to be prevented in order to make the company great. They are mediocrity, complacency and nepotism. Darwin did not want to tolerate the average because he just could not stand being average himself.  He always focused on what exactly he needed and that is what took him so far(Collins, 2007).
  3. Systematically building the board: It has been researched that not just any kind of person is needed to build a great company rather it is the right people who builds one. When the people will be right, they would be passionate about their job and that would help in making the company great. Darwin winnowed the people who were not right for the firm without any hesitation and kept the good ones. This was one important quality that took him so far.
  4. Focus on the Right People: If people will work in the wrong area, there will always be mediocre results formed. People like Darwin worked with right people to get good results as he focused on the right resources and area to get the best. Also, he did not encourage nepotism or any kind of politics in office which is really needed in today’s life as well.
  5. Credit to the employees: Darwin always gave credit to the right employees that he worked with for good performance of the company(Sabutey, 2018).  

Leaders are not born but they are made. This is what one can get from the leadership personality of Darwin Smith. When the leaders are made not born, they go through the process of the teaching, learning and observation (Liccardo, 2007). There are some behavioral theories which say that leadership is actually an amalgamation of skills which can be learned by training, perception, experience and practice which develops with time. Learning about the leadership is the activity that continues for the lifetime. Leaders who are good will always look forward to the growth opportunities which will support them in learning the new skills. Darwin was just a lawyer in Kimberly and he knew nothing about being a leader. Yet, he learned that skill with his talent and remained the CEO of the company for 20 years. The leaders who are made are the amalgamation of some skills like self awareness, self motivation, they are efficient socially and have empathy too. Darwin always believed in working in team but that team should be filled with right people who are fit for the job (Giulio, 2015). There is some experience that initiates a leadership quality in a person. Darwin came from a family of farmers from Indiana and he knew from his very childhood that he has to work hard and also seen some experience which made him strong and tactful. Hence, experience makes the person the leader. Most of the leaders operate in effectiveness which needs them to have certain qualities of being adaptive and perceptive (NSLS, 2017). These are some of the personality traits of Darwin which clearly suggests that leadership is made not born.

The nature of leadership style that Darwin followed was 5 leadership styles. 5 Leadership is much related to the transformational leadership style but both of them have a few differences too. Darwin was considered to have more traits that a 5 leadership style having leader would have (HVLI, 2018). A leader is always known by the qualities he possesses and also displays as a true leader. These qualities are not just some arbitrary feature but these qualities make a leader an exceptional one. Leaders like Darwin not just let go off their ego when it comes to working with effective teams but also let go of their self needs or keep them as least priority. They also channelize their hard work for the growth and the benefit of the development, betterment and achieving the goal for the company. Darwin was ambitious and took the initiative in leading the firm towards success when the firm was facing a downfall. Smith had humility which a 5 leadership leader should possess and made efforts in the firm to take it to the higher level. The firm was also lagging behind in terms of stock market to the height that it went to become the pioneer (Leonard, 2010). The firm went on to become the leading one in the paper based user products too and with Darwin’s dedication, the firm was able to achieve the stock returns 4 times of the usual market. He was influenced by nothing in his whole life. He was not fearful of anything. He was detected with the nose and throat cancer and was informed that he will be able to live just for an year more but he was so determined with the work and his life that he did not just cured the cancer but went on to love 25 years more out of which 20 years he was the CEO of the firm (Crivellaro, 2014).

How Darwin Smith transformed Kimberly-Clark from mediocrity to sustained excellence

There are a few skills which are the most in order to become like Darwin. They are as follows:

  • Communication: It is one of the most significant skills required to be a leader like Darwin. It is the ability which is used to strategize critical factors and some of the strategies which are nothing if the team is unable to follow the instruction.  To ensure that the team has understood the tasks the right way, a leader should be able to communicate well with the team(Luthra & Dahiya, 2015).
  • Awareness: A good leader like Darwin should have a keen eye on the process of the business for learning about the ideas which are effective and not effective. The quality of observing everything can take a leader to know about the minute details which might be prove to be effective in the business growth.
  • Honesty: Great leaders are not the people who get good results but those who do value their employees with honesty and also value the firm they work in. The team members will always never like what a leader says but if it is the honest message, they will at least try to understand it work towards it(Bisk, 2018).
  • Relation Building: A leader should be able to build good relations with the people he works with. People will always appreciate the leader who motivates them and encourages them to work well. The employees are pen up with such type of leaders which can give a leader an extra nudge to do good for the firm.
  • Innovation: Like Darwin put his hands in Huggies diaper market and a few other markets as well, he really knew how to try hands on new businesses and make Kimberly as the greatest growth rating company of a kind in the world. Similarly, a leader should have the capability to make new innovation inside or outside the company which helps in the growth of the firm(Hao, 2015). The leader who is innovative is the one who takes complete responsibility of the problems and makes a new way forward towards bringing the work as per the expectation.  

There are some of the leaders who have the qualities of innovation, relationship skills development, communication etc. For Example: Steve Jobs had an eye on new innovations and he made Apple Inc. what it is today (Wadhwa & Parimoo, 2013). Yet the qualities like Honesty and awareness and humility is found at very less places in today’s world. It was researched that there is politics in almost every firm. It is hard to find a firm which is completely honest with its employees and that there is no politics. However, the question is that is it possible to have qualities like Darwin in present world. So, the answer would be a yes. It is possible to have such qualities in today’s world but the leaders would have to be like Darwin then. If such type of firms works in any field, those will be the firms which would attain the highest level of growth because of t he honesty and the passion the people will have for the firm (Wisniewski, 2010).

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