Jim Collins: Key Ideas for Business Leaders

American Business Consultant, Keynote Speaker, and Author of six Books, Jim Collins is a nationally recognized thought leader on the topics of company growth and sustainability. Born in Boulder, CO in 1958, James C. “Jim” Collins attained an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Stanford before acquiring his MBA from the same institution. After graduation, Collins spent a brief time working as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, followed by a stint as the product manager for Hewlett Packard.

He eventually moved from the corporate world back into the world of academia and research. and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business awarded him with the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. In ’95, Collins returned to his hometown of Boulder, CO to found the management laboratory which would become the foundation for the research in his subsequent books.

The author of 6 Books, including the well-known Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies – which was on the Business Week bestseller list for 6 years – and Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Other’s Don’t, and the most recent, Collins spends his time consulting companies and entrepreneurs on how to take their endeavors from good to great.

Here are some of his best thoughts on business growth and leadership:

1. A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people.

2. Faith in the endgame helps you live through the months or years of buildup.~Jim Collins

3. A culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.~Jim Collins

4. Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.

5. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.

6. Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.

7. A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people.

8. By definition, it is not possible to everyone to be above the average.

9. The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.

10. Mediocrity results first and foremost from management failure, not technological failure.

11. Perhaps your quest to be part of building something great will not fall in your business life. But find it somewhere. If not in corporate life, then perhaps in making your church great. If not there, then perhaps a nonprofit, or a community organization, or a class you teach. Get involved in something that you care so much about that you want to make it the greatest it can possibly be, not because of what you will get, but just because it can be done.

12. The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.

13. What separates people, Stockdale taught me, is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life.

14. You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.

15. The moment a leader allows himself to become the primary reality people worry about, rather than reality being the primary reality, you have a recipe for mediocrity, or worse. This is one of the key reasons why less charismatic leaders often produce better long-term results than their more charismatic counterparts.

16. Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people.

When Collins isn’t inspiring organizations to greatness, authoring new books, or working on finding solutions new problems at the management lab in Boulder, he spends his time rock climbing with his wife, the renowned triathlete Joanne Ernst.

About the Author Bill Ringle

Bill Ringle is a CEO, former Apple exec, published author, and angel investor. Through Grow Business Now, he offers strategies and tools to elevate growth for executives and entrepreneurs from more than 46 industries. Bill has conducted nearly 200 podcast interviews on My Quest for the Best, where industry and business leaders share their secrets to success.

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