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How good organizations become great

February 8, 2016

There’s a very simple reason why Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins is as relevant and influential today as when it was first published in 2001. In this classic business and leadership theory text, Collins and his skilled team of researchers brilliantly illustrate what specific variables and factors are required of organizations that achieve consistent business greatness as well as the specific variables and factors that cause organizations to fail.

One of their most significant and well-reported findings is that good is the enemy of great. We’ve all seen ample evidence of companies getting good at something (manufacturing film, or typewriters, or fill in the blank), only to then stall, get defensive, and ultimately fail. There are many reasons for this but according to Collins and his team, the most important variable that separates good from great companies is leadership.

Great companies have a predominance of what Collins terms “Level 5” leaders—leaders who display unusual, and some may even believe to be paradoxical, characteristics of intense drive and profound humility. These leaders usually have a personal and long-term sense of investment in the success of the company that often comes from a career-spanning climb up the company’s ranks. And interestingly enough, Collins’s research shows that true “Level 5” leaders usually feel the success of their team and ultimately, the company is more important than their personal egos or financial compensation. These leaders are special. They make a difference. And all of these leadership skills and competencies can be developed.

So it makes perfect sense that Collins and his team also found that companies that put a priority on cultivating and attracting the best leadership talent—current or potential “Level 5” leaders—were most capable of making the jump from good to great. And we aren’t surprised; we see that in our client work every day.

That’s why we’re so pleased that Jim Collins will be joining us again for our Global Institute for Leadership Development®. His knowledge, experience, and researched-based approach to identifying and cultivating what it takes for leaders and organizations to go from good to great is something that we all can benefit from.

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