Good is the enemy of Great. This is the first sentance of the book by Jim Collins.

Can something that is good become great ? And if so, how ?
Or is the disease of “just being good” incurable ?

Level 5 Leadership

The type of leadership required for turning a good company into a great one might not be intuitive for most of people.
Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders seem to be self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy – these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.

The two sides of level 5 leadership

Professional WillPersonal Humility
Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to greatDemostrates a complelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful
Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long term results, no matter how difficultActs with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inpired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate
Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing lessChannels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation
Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luckLooks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company – to other people, external factors, and good luck

First Who … Then What

One might expect that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. It’s been discovered that the majority of them start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to thrive it.
The old adage “People are your most important asset” turns out to be wrong according to Jim Collins. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.

Good-to-great management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet who unify behind decisions, regardless of parochial interests.

Confront the Brutal Facts

You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

The Scockdale Paradox
Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficultiesAND at the same timeConfront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be

Creating a climate where the thruth is heard involves 4 basic practices:

  1. Lead with questions, not answers
  2. Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion
  3. Conduct autopsies, without blame
  4. Build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored

Leadership does not begin just with vision. It begins with getting people to confront the brutal facts and to act on the implications.

Spending time and energy trying to “motivate” people is a waste of effort. If you have the right people, they will be self motivated. The key is to not de-motivate them.
One of the primary ways to de-motivate people is to ignore the brutal facts of reality.

The Hedgehog Concept

Greek parable: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

The fox is a cunning creature, able to devise a myriad of complex strategies for sneak attacks upon the hedgehog. Fast, sleek, beautiful, fleet of foot, and crafty – the fox looks like the sure winner.

The hedgehog, on the other hand, he waddles along, going about his simple day, searching for lunch and taking care of his home.

The fox waits in cunning silence at the juncture in the trail. The hedgehog, minding his own business, wanders right into the path of the fox.
Aha, I’ve got you now!” thinks the fox.
The little hedgehog, sensing danger, looks up and thinks, “Here we go again. Will he ever learn?” Rolling up into a perfect little ball, the hedgehog becomes a sphere of sharp spikes, pointing outward in all directions.

The fox, bounding toward his prey, sees the hedgehog defense and calls off the attack. Retreating back to the forest, the fox begins to calculate a new line of attack. Each day, some version of this battle between the hedgehog and the fox takes place, and despite the greater cunning of the fox, the hedgehog always wins.

A Culture of Discipline

The single most important form of discipline for sustained results is fanatical adherence to the Hedgehog Concept and the willingness to shun opportunities that fall outside the three circles.

“Stop doing” lists are more important than “to do” lists.

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop

Good-to-Great companies – FlyweelComparison companies – Doom Loop
Let results do most of the talkingSell the future, to compensate for lack of results
Maintain consistency over time; each generation builds on the work of previous generations; the flywheel continues to build momentumDemonstrate inconsistency over time; each new leader brings a radical new path; the flywheel grinds to a halt, and the doom loop begins anew

Do executive leaders really think and act like is described in this book ?
I don’t know … I haven’t met any CEOs … but I’ve read the book and I think these principles could be applied by each kind of leader in some day-to-day activities 🙂

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