Jim Collins groundbreaking leadership book, Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t attempts to answer the question of how an organization can be led to resounding success and to the achievement of all its goals. The author’s premise is that being simply good enough is acceptable to most individuals and that organizations need determined and focused leadership to grow into a great organization that maximizes all the potential that its members can muster. Good to Great was the result of a five year study into what makes effective leadership and organizations.

Within this book, Collins attempts to profile exactly what type of leaders lead the transformation from a merely good to a great organization. In the process, he dismisses some common fallacies and assumptions about what is needed to advance an organization to a great organization. While Collins mostly uses case studies of large American businesses, he proposes that the principles he has studied can be used by any organization; government, school or church.

Collins strongly advocates that the central element to move an organization forward is not delineating goals or policies, but discovering individuals with talent who can lead an organization from all levels. The common assumption that an inspiring leader who takes an organization further is charismatic and is able to make sudden changes to push an organization are shown by his research to not be consistent with the profile of great leaders. Most great leaders, showing what he calls Level 5 Leadership, are humble, quiet, disciplined, placing the organization above their own personal egos, and have a relentless search for outstanding subordinate leaders.

Great leadership requires passion and discipline that are constantly looking to improve today and to slowly move towards the future. No one charged in an organization’s turnaround can look for a quick fix, or some other event that lacks real substance. Tools, like technology, are never solutions; but are simply products that aid the discipline process.
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Collins found that all great leaders make a habit of properly ascertaining intelligence about their present situation and are able to make calm decisions based on the brutal truth. He case that great leaders operate on the “hedgehog concept”, or that concepts must constantly be refined to their simplest, nominalist objective is consistent with his concepts of disciplined, humble leadership.

For a church leader, Collins’ concepts encourage a constant push towards quality discipleship and initiative. Humility and kindness at the top of the leadership will go a long way towards encouraging subordinate leaders to show the same traits to others. While rigor and exacting details in leadership are always required, ruthlessness and throwing the weight of leadership around to assert authority never are. Greatness as a church requires the constant pursuit of faithfulness to the Lord who have not only given the church its mission, but guaranteed its success.