Good to Great, Pt. 1

As part of a series on summer reading, I offer a synopsis of thoughts on Jim Collins book, Good to Great. His research solidly uncovers some key concepts on organizations moving from being good and capable organizations to something that is far beyond just being in maintenance mode.

Jim’s research uncovers 6 core concepts built under 3 unifying themes:

  1. Disciplined People
    1. Level 5 Leadership
    2. First who…. then what
  2. Disciplined Thought
    1. Confront the Brutal Facts
    2. Hedgehog Concept
  3. Disciplined Actions
    1. Culture of Discipline
    2. Technology Accelerators

Level 5 leadership provides insight into how great companies cultivate leadership and nurture it internally.  In a time when many companies look for CEO’s with name recognition and corporate pedigrees, this research contents that there is less about ego and more about lack of self-interest at play in great leadership.  A distinction is created here between the majority of leaders that live at Level 4 and the more elite Level 5’s who…

Build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.

Humility + Will = Level 5

Level 5 leadership is also about unwavering resolve to do what is "right" and in the best interest of the organization.  It’s about leading with a core belief in the work of the organization and what is best for it’s growth and success. 

Level 5 leaders are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce results.

Consistent with the unique blend of humility and will, Level 5 leaders seldom attribute success to their own actions and conversely look inward when challenged by poor outcomes.  How many of us are capable of that kind of introspection when boards and stakeholders turn away from their normal distant role toward micro-managing tactics due to their perceptions of failure?  Isn’t it more often the case that the leader instead seeks to find fault elsewhere or with the constituents themselves?  How many leaders actually accept responsibility for their shortfalls?