Stijn in Summary 2 minutes

From good to great: summary

Key insights from the book

Level 5 Leadership

The leaders of the different case studies all had a number of characteristics in common. These where:

  • Modesty and humility
  • Professional and unwavering will
  • Fanatically driven, hard working
  • Accepting responsability for failures (even if it was not their fault)
  • Ambitious (for the company, not for themselves)

Leaders that embody these characteristics are called Level 5 Leaders.

First Who… Then What

The absolute first thing these leaders do is to get the right people on the bus and get the wrong people off. They surround themselves with self-motivated and talented people and put them a position to succeed. They do this before doing anything else: first who, then what.

Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)

Called the Stockdale Paradox: You have to be able to retain an absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. At the same time, you have to be able to honestly confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles)

Good to great companies are like hedgehogs: simple creatures that do one big thing and do it well. You have to find the intersection of these three circles:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What drives your economic engine?
  • What can you be the best in the world at?

A Culture of Discipline

Build a culture full of self-disciplined people who take disciplined action within the three circles. Self-disciplined and self-motivated people will alleviate the need for bureaucracy. Stop doing lists are more important than to do lists (stay within the three circles).

Technology Accelerators

Technology is a means to an end. Use it as an accelerator and become best of the world in the technology if it fits your Hedgehog Concept. Otherwise: ignore it if possible, use it if needed.

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop

Keep pushing. Like a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting the point of breakthrough. Good to great companies had a build up period of 10+ years.