Latest Readings Continued.

One of the best books I have read recently is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Collins and a research team put together a set of companies that went from merely “Good” (at or below market performance for over 15 years) to “Great” (at least 3x market performance over 15 years) and analyzed what caused the transition. Many of their findings are surprising and give indications of how to make similar changes in other Good companies.

The biggest piece is around leadership, but the type of leadership required is not the kind so popular with the media. It is not huge egos and charismatic leaders that really make a company Great, but rather leaders who are humble and incredibly focused on the success of the company, not just themselves. These leaders are defined as “Level 5” leaders, which sounds like a silly term, but makes sense in the context of the book. These leaders look beyond thier personal goals to the larger goals of the company. They take blame for things that go wrong and they give credit for a majority of their successes to other people in the company. They often believe that they are just plain “lucky”. This certainly goes against the type of leadership that gets press today.

I particularly liked the concept of the humble leader. It fits well with my quasi-Buddhist beliefs that it is our intentions that matter most. A leader that holds the goals of the company as the most important thing and sees him/herself as subservient to that goal can be very successful.

Now of course, this begs the question of whether one should put the goals of any company (even if you are CEO/Founder) ahead of your personal goals. Where do family and friends fally in this equation? Can building a great capitalist icon really satisfy the soul? Even so, I find the idea of a humble leader very compelling.

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