Monthly Archives: August 2012

Commitment to the Greater Good

How George Washington’s abdication of power relates to modern leadership.

George WashingtonLevel 5 Leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitions, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves. – Jim Collins [1]

George Washington was so fervently against tyrannical government that he gave up power upon defeating the British during the American Revolution. This is a piece of history shared by a very enthusiastic tour guide in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. It also is the part of the speech she says never ceases to amaze her no matter how many times it’s stated. It is a fact that George Washington did not become a dictator after victory even with full command and loyalty of the Continental Army. After hearing our tour guide’s admiration for this act of putting country before personal power I started to think about modern examples of leadership that demonstrate sacrifice for the greater good. The first thing that came to mind was Jim Collins’ writing about Level 5 Leaders in Good to Great. These are the leaders who have an unwavering resolve for success but at the same time channel ambition for the greater good even if that means sacrificing individual glory.

Jason Freeman is the founder of Work of Start.

1. Jim Collins. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 39.