For those who have never read "Good to Great" (and likely never will) – here is a summary of what it takes for a company, non-profit, or church to move from good to great.
- LEVEL 5 LEADERSHIP – This was the big surprise of the study. Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders seem to have come from Mars. Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy – these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than patton or Caesar.
- FIRST WHO… THEN WHAT – You would expect that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. What was discovered instead is that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage "People are your most important asset" turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.
- CONFRONT THE BRUTAL FACTS (yet never lose faith) – Every good-to-great leader embraces what they called the Stockdale Paradox: 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 HEDGEHOG CONCEPT (simplicity within the Three Circles) – To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. You must learn to see what is essential, and ignore the rest. All good-to-great companies attained a very simple concept that they used as a frame of reference for all their decisions, and this understanding coincided with breakthrough results.
- A CULTURE OF DISCIPLINE – All companies have a culture, some companies have discipline, but few companies have a culture of discipline. When you have disciplined people, you don't need hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don't need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don't need excessive controls. When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance.
- TECHNOLOGY ACCELERATORS – Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology. They never use technology as the primary means of igniting a transformation. Yet, paradoxically, they are pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies. We learned that technology itself is never a primary, root cause of either greatness or decline.
- THE FLYWHEEL AND THE DOOM LOOP – Those who launch revolutions, dramatic change programs, and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap from good to great. No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembled relentlessly pushing a giant heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.
If you are an essential leader in an organization you believe in, you really should read this book!