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Monday, June 28, 2010

Good to great

Level 5 leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless. To quickly grasp this concept, think of United States President Abraham Lincoln (one of the few Level 5 presidents in United States history), who never let his ego get in the way of his primary ambition for the larger cause of an enduring great nation. Yet those who mistook Mr. Lincoln's personal modesty, shy nature, and awkward manner as signs of weakness found themselves terribly mistaken, to the scale of 250,000 Confederate and 360,000 Union lives, including Lincoln's own.
--Jim Collins et al, Good to Great, 22

I'm not entirely sure that Lincoln is the first presidential example I would have used to portray a Level 5 leader (Humble and fearless? I was thinking Washington.), but I think this is a crucial point for businesses. You can certainly be a good or successful company without a Level 5 leader, but you cannot become a great company.

One of the things I love about business and management is how all of the principles of business seem to apply to individuals as well. For example, something called "The Hedgehog Concept":

One of my first reactions to this is that I wish I had understood this idea very early in life--or at least immediately after college. So many of us flounder around trying to figure out what to do with ourselves, and without any concept of how to find direction we just end up with whatever ends up in front of us. The result is usually a great deal of wasted time and dissatisfaction.

Great concepts. I can't wait to finish this book.