What Does it Take to Make Something Great (Again)?

Vices Posted by ahnyerkeester 6 years, 10 months ago

I was just reading in CJ Mahaney's book Humility and came across this:

I had a chance to hear Jim Collins [author of Good to Great] speak on this topic to an audience of pastors and business leaders. In his presentation, Collins identified two specific character qualities shared by CEOs of these good-to-great companies.

The first was no surprise: These men and women possessed incredible professional will--they were driven, willing to endure anything to make their company a success.

But the second trait these leaders had in common wasn't something the researchers expected to find: These driven leaders were self-effacing and modest. They consistently pointed to the contribution of others and didn't like drawing attention to themselves....

When Collins interviewed people who worked for these leaders, he says they "continually used words like quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated, did not believe his own clippings; and so forth" to describe them.

That sure doesn't sound like the people who recently tried to lead our country. How can America go from good to great? We need better leaders.

Just a thought.

9 replies

  • glen

    A great thought, indeed.

    Sadly, it's going to be hard for someone who is "modest and self-effacing"--I'm thinking of Abe Lincoln--to stand a chance with our modern brand of politics.

    I wish this weren't the case, though. I'd love to see Jed Bartlett in an election.


    • glen

      Oh! Forgot to add this in my original comment: I think Collins' best book is How the Mighty Fall, which revisits companies he studied in Good to Great. Many of them eventually failed, and he gives reasons why (see: hubris). Even more important, he shows what companies who didn't fail did to succeed. Really interesting stuff.


  • jordan

    I don't think the general population is quiet, humble, modest, etc., and they don't really value or pay attention to those qualities. They'd rather pay attention to the loudest distraction that happens to be around. The qualities that demand popular attention and receive it tend to reflect more arrogant, boastful, narcissistic, I'm-better-than-you and generally loud characteristics.

    To me, making something great (again) is being willing to listen to Michael Jackson's Man In the Mirror and, besides probably singing along, take it seriously. To make something great, you have to be able to see the true harsh reality of a craptastic situation, particularly your contributions to making it, and take one step at a time to fix it. That, in my opinion, is why great things require humility. Most people can't handle seeing their weaknesses and flaws highlighted and are even less willing to fix them.


    • glen

      +1,000! (If only for including "craptastic" in your reply.)


    • ahnyerkeester

      stands slow applause You nailed it dude. We get what we are looking for.


    • Chet_Manly

      I keep seeing this thread and I had wanted to say something about altruism and taking care of the people that you lead, kind of a karmic cycle. (I believe in altruism and the rising tide floating all boats that want to float, but it only works on a voluntary basis; I wouldn't support the idea of legislating these things.) My head has always been in the clouds on this topic. But what Jordan has written gets to the crux of the matter in such a real way and it's accurate in a way I wish it wasn't. That's why I'm adding my comment under his reply.

      And I'll second the "craptastic" comment!