This book by author Jim Collins is amazing research of styles of business leadership. Good to Great details all the factors needed to be adopted to make a company go from good to great. Like it is often parroted-It is easy to get to the top but equally tough to stay there. The graphs of a company’s success can be upward-looking which is easier to accomplish for the very first time. The real test of a CEO’s leadership is in maintaining the company’s position at the top. Here’s how senior leadership can start building the foundation of customer trust in a brand.
Author Jim Collins categorises the book into 3 crucial ideas. Based on these three ideas one can determine if a company will move from being good to becoming great.
“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”Archilochus, Greek Poet (Source: NPR)
This Greek parable enunciates an important concept- Clarity of vision and strategizing in tandem can bring along more success than a repeated change of strategy. It further explains the concept in the analogy of a fox and a hedgehog. The hedgehog is prey for the fox. The fox being extremely cunning and sharp comes up with a million ways to attack the hedgehog while it trudges down the jungle floor. Some might think the fox is bound to achieve success- a sharp, lithe, thinking-on-its-feet kinda animal will have an easy hunt. While the lithe predator may have had us fooled, it is useless to underestimate our little spiked rodent. In the event of an attack, the hedgehog immediately rolls into its shell and becomes a sharp ball of spikes, staving off the brutal fox’s attack. This is a tried and tested strategy that the hog uses every single time. Applying the same logic to a company that sticks with its passion, sphere of expertise and true value that it brings to a potential customer. Such companies are able to beget more success compared to a company that cannot stay on the strategic course.
The second characteristic the book speaks of is a bus. A simple analogy that distributes the overall workforce into sections of two. At the back of this ‘bus’ are seated the ones who are problem solvers. These are the people who put their boots on the ground, and get their hands dirty but forget to lift up their heads. All of their focus is on solving the current problem facing the company. While the front seaters have one eye on the present and one on the future. This futuristic attitude is what keeps them on the hunt for newer opportunities that align with the company’s goals and can be leveraged to move forward on the graph. It also lays emphasis on the hiring a company does. Great CEOs spend a lot of time putting square pegs into square holes and round pegs into round ones meaning that having the right person for the right job is extremely important to a company’s success and wellbeing.
Lastly, he sums up with a term called a ‘Level 5’ leader. A level 5 leader is a combination of extreme humility and strong resolve for the betterment of their company. It is essential to note that these such embrace criticism-constructive criticism. Their drive to further and better their company’s interests far outstrips anybody’s imagination as such people are rarely vocal or they don’t prefer to take the whole credit upon themselves. A great Indian example of a level 5 leader would be Mr Ratan Tata, Tata Group and Mr Narayan R Murthy, Infosys.
In the end, the 11 companies that Collins and his team had researched, were replete with such characteristics and headed by great leaders. This makes the good to great ideology a practice to adopt for companies that already exist and entrepreneurs looking to create newer companies.