Little known true leader that changed the company into great performance

Darwin E Smith, ex CEO Kimberly-ClarxDo you know Darwin E. Smith? I bet you know people like Jack Welch or Lee Iacocca. But who is Darwin E. Smith?

When he was appointed ceo of Kimberly-Clark in 1971, he just was the companies lawyer. Shy, never in a leading position but willing to work. He was even pullee aside by one of the directors, saying that he really lacked some of the qualifications to become CEO. Nevertheless he was appointed and he stayed CEO for more then 20 years.

At that time, kimberly-Clark was really struggling in the paper products market with harsh competition like Scott Paper and Procter & Gamble. Darwin turned the company outperforming companies like Hewlett-Packard, 3M, Coca-Cola and GE. The generated stock returns were 4.0 times greater than these companies in these 20 years.

How did Darwin lead?

He lead the company with a level 5 leadership. Level 5 leadership is a concept by Jim Collins and I will explain it briefly hereunder.

Level 5: Executive. The leader builds greatness to the combination of personal humility and professional will. Once when a journalist asked for his style of leadership he just stared back at the scribe from the other side of his thick black-rimmed glasses. He was dressed unfashionably and finally he said, “eccentric.”

How do you manifest humility? You credit others, external factors and good luck for the companies’ success. you act quietly, calmly and determinedly-relying on inspired standards to motivate.

Level 4 :Effective leader: He catalyses commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision; stimulates the group to high performance standards.

Level 3:Competent manager. He organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives.

Level 2:Contributing team member. Contributes to the achievement of the group objectives, works effectively with others in group setting.

Level 1:Highly capable individual. Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits.

Now rate yourself on a scale from 0-10 for each of the levels! Be brutally honest with yourself and you can see where you are compared to Mr. Smith!

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