One of the more fascinating books I have read over the past twenty years, was Good to Great by Jim Collins. It was a bestseller, which I believe sold over 4 million copies.
Some of the concepts were very applicable, such as:
- The traits of the Level 5 Leader, humility and passion are always a good start.
- Get the right people on the bus, at the end of the day you cannot hand a great tool to a poor carpenter and expect success.
- Confront the brutal facts, big fan of facing reality and NOT avoiding confrontation, but embracing the opportunity to gain another ally.
- And even the Hedgehog concept, which is the passion concept stated a bit differently, but also discussing what’s in it for the participant to feel motivated.
These were all spot on with what it takes to make a great organization. And Jim had the statistical analysis to back it. I am a great lover of data and leadership.
But what is perhaps more surprising, was that despite being a wildly successful book and receiving great praise, the concepts are rare in practice. In fact, I do not see them in any of the companies that I visit, or for that matter by any of the thousands of people that I have spoken with over the past twenty years.
Why is that? Have the thoughts that Mr. Collins so eloquently conveyed in the book become outdated? Were they wrong in the first place?
My personal answer to those two questions is an emphatic no. The thoughts were spot on and brilliant. But, they were just that. Thoughts. No different than a theory, just paper and words until put into practice by the receiver.
To me, the concept is not practiced for three fundamental reasons.
First, the reader is unaware of where they are actually starting from. Leaders cannot see their own blind spots, and they do not have the experience within their organizations to provide accurate, unbiased assessments.
By contrast, a professional leadership group has, or at least should have, the expertise on their staff to provide an unmatched assessment. This is the key to success.
Start from the wrong point, and you will never get to your goal.
Second, the reader had a limited ability to apply to their world. Since they were learning the material for the first time, they had not seen it succeed or fail in a real environment, and therefore had nothing to benchmark the engagement against.
That is a fundamental gap. Managers learn some great material, but do not see how it applies to their day-to-day, or they see the application, just never try it. Or worse yet, they try it, it does not go well, and they abandon it forever.
Last, most leaders had no one to coach them through the practice of the tools. Tiger Woods could teach you a golf swing, but if it’s only you on the course over the following months, the quality (and thus the motivation to use the tool) of your swing would diminish significantly). Most folks without the professional follow up will abandon their new learnings and go back to what they did prior.
Perhaps they will pick the book up in a few years and begin the process all over again.
Or maybe, they will try a new method that reaps instant and sustainable rewards.
Find your blind spots.
For an expert, unbiased assessments contact and set up ongoing support as you implement the changes that truly will shift you from good to great, we are at your service. Call 312-939-5541 to set up a FREE consultation call with John Casey, head of Shamrock Consultants.
Shamrock leverages 26 years of leadership development experience to assist organizations in the transformation to effective leadership using unique, powerful, and PROVEN methods – methods created from data collected from 40,000 managers at 2,000 different businesses.
I’m John Casey and I bring 26 years of assessing and coaching leaders, to your organizations’ leadership benchmarking and transformation process to help your managers become highly effective LEADERS. My heart, my research, and my experience are all in my work, and it shows clearly in my client interactions and their organizations’ leadership results.