Session 2 of Leadership Summit started off with Jim Collins. Here’s a recap of my notes from the session that just ended. Once again, I apologize for bad grammar. Will edit more later.
Good is the enemy of great. Always been curious to understand what systematically separates great from good, exceptional to average. Why do some make to leap to greatness and some don’t? Answer is not always circumstance, especially if they are in same circumstance. Greatness is matter of conscious choice and discipline. If we just do that, we’ll merely be prosperous nations. To be truly great as nation we must have great social enterprises, schools, homeless shelters, cause-driven organizations and churches.
Then took turn to dark side. Wanted to see how great enterprises stumble. How the mighty fall. Became fascinated, like studying trainwrecks. I’d seen some of the greatest enterprises fall from great to good to mediocre to bad to irrelevant to gone. If it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone. No company, no church, no nation, no society, no individual is immune. Anyone can fall. And many do, but not all.
As examining question, saw they fall through stages. August 2002 went running at Colorado pass with wife, who is a champion triathlete. I started walking and saw my wife running on switchbacks. Two months later got word that wife had cancer and had double mastectomy. Image stuck in my mind of wife who is picture of health and strength, and she’s already sick on the inside. Are societies and individuals like that? We look strong on the outside, but sick on the inside. Hard to detect early, but easy to cure. Easy to detect late, hard to cure.
Five Stages of Decline. You don’t see the decline until Stage Four. Disease analogy is apropos except in one way. These stages are self-inflicted in organizations.
1. Hubris Born of Success – It is not success leads to failure. Outrageous arrogance which leads to suffering on the innocent. Neglect life calling. Arrogance in approach to anything. Bad decisions taken with good intentions are still bad decisions. Antithesis to hubris is special type of leadership. Three different types of leaders. Darwin Smith. Took Kimberly Clark from good to great. Had charisma bypass. His idea of thinking was moving rocks. An introvert. Anne Mulcahy saved Xerox from bankruptcy. Didn’t expect to be CEO. She’s magnetic with crowds riveted to hear her words. Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines. Close to being inconoclast. Resolved trademark dispute with another CEO with a arm-wrestling compeition. (When the going gets weird, the weird get CEO. – Hunter Thompson)
Kelleher would die for Southewest. None of them think it is about them, and they never give up. They are Level 5 leaders. It’s more than just good leadership. Good to Great leaders were cut from different cloth. Level 5 leaders versus Level 4. What makes the greatest leaders? It’s not charisma. Doesn’t explain Darwin Smith. What separates 5 from 4 is humility. It was surprising. It came from the data, empirical data. Through evidence and data is that greatest leaders had signatures of humility. A special type of humility. A burning passion to do whatever it takes for the sake of cause, values. Without Level 5 leaders we are exposed to hubris.
2. Undisciplined Pursuit of More – You think companies get into trouble because they stay the same. Some do, but that is not how the mighty fall. They fall by overreaching. By going too far, too much growth. Can’t execute with excellence. Undisciplined. Make choices that expose them. Biggest sign is breaking Packard’s Law. Regulate growth, regulate reach. Do we have the right people? Fantastic people? Must resist growth until you have the right people. Get right people then go.
3. Denial of Risk and Peril – Start to be warning signs and alarms. Losing members, or numbers are going down. Unpleasant feedback. The critical thing is denying that, though. Coming out of first two stages. On the outside you really look great. Which makes it easy to deny. Are we teams on the way up or on the way down? We live in difficult times. How do we move forward in a world of great difficulty? Stockdale Paradox. Admiral Stockdale was highest ranking official in Navy but was captured. Tortured over twenty times by enemy. How did Stockdale not get crushed in captivity without knowing end of story? He never got depressed because he never wavered in faith that he’d get out. He called it defining moment of his life. Who didn’t make it out? Stockdale said the optimists. The optimists were the ones who said we’ll be out by Christmas, or next Christmas, but then it would come and go and they’d die of a broken heart. Never confuse faith and facts. Never give up with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts today. Ability to put those two together is what Stockdale taught. We need both sides of the paradox.
4. Grasping for Salvation – Don’t mean that in a way you might. The game is up. The peril you denied throws you over the edge and you are falling. You can’t deny that anymore. You go looking for a silver bullet to fix it. Over 90% of Good to Great companies got CEOs from within. Greatness is never a single event or breakthrough. It is a cumulative effect. The flywheel effect. Disciplined. You keep pushing, staying disciplined, and you slowly build momentum. Turn upon turn, push upon push, day upon day, service upon service. Imagine if you woke up one day and were 6 times a better leader? Leadership Summit is a flywheel if as Bill Hybels says you can get 5-10% improvement at Summit. It does not happen any other way.
5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death – (You can still survive at late Stage 4) You have squandered everything. The game is over. 1989 did Built To Last and chronicled eighteen companies. All eighteen are still stand alone companies. Why? In contrast of everything that has happened since 1989, why are they still strong? Because they have a reason to endure the struggle. It’s more than success or money. If you measure success by money, you will lose. What happens if they were to disappear? Can the void be refilled? They are driven by purpose that is rooted in core values that they will not compromise. Imagine the power of your work driven by values and passion. Values are not open for compromise or change. They stand for hwo we do things. If we lose our values we lose our soul if we lose our soul we lose it all.
Preserve the Core AND Stimulate Progress – “We hold these truths to be self-evident” AND “I have a dream”
To Do List:
1. Do your diagnostics. JimCollins.com has diagnostic tools for free. Download it and use it.
2. Count your blessings. Literally. Count them in a spreadsheet. Do not stop until you have at least 100. Why? When we begin to account a count of all the good things that we did not cause, all the success we did not cause.
3. What is your questions to statements ratio, and can you double it in the next year? Leaders ask the right questions. Stop trying to be interesting and be interesting.
4. How many key seats are on your bus and how many of them are filled with key people and what’s plan to fill with fantastic people.
5. Do team diagnostic
6. With right team of people assembled. Create inventory of the brutal facts. What are the brutal facts?
7.What do we have the discipline to stop doing.
8. Define results and show clicks on flywheel or mile markers.
9. Double your reach to young people by changing your practice without changing your core values.
10. BHAG Big Hairy Audacious Goal
How they mighty fall. Never capitulate, never give in. Never, never, never. It’s one thing to suffer a staggering defeat. Another to give up on the values and aspirations that make a protracted struggle worthwhile. Willing to change tactics or ideas but never give up on purpose. Be willing to endure loss or pain or freedoms but never give up on ability to prevail. Never give up on core values.