Monthly Archives: March 2007

Building Greatness – first who, then what

I was really looking forward to hearing Collins speak at last month’s NPODs conference and hopefully to have him answer the one question that bugs me about his book “Goood to Great”. The thing I didn’t understand was “How can you know the ‘right’ people before you know what you want to aim for?

Jim is an energetic speaker who opened with a ‘left hook’ – “good is the mortal enemy of great” and finished with a right jab – his current research is showing that the “signature of mediocrity is not resistance to change, as they had suspected, but a chronic inconsistency” Hmmm.

I liked knowing that his research is grounded in ‘contrast’ aka twin studies in psychology. Colleague Porras twigged to the idea that organisations have twins too – so their research approach is to look for the impacts of “nature” and “nurture”. The conclusion is that greatness is not a function of environment or circumstances but of choices and discipline – sounds like nurture to me.
Anyway to cut a long story short – you can read my summary notes below if you are interested in the long story – he did give us an answer to my question of “how do you choose ‘who’? and the answer is “choose based on values”. You first select “who” by choosing people who share your common values and then you collectively decide what. Of course – it all makes sense now. He also said that you cannot make people share your values, only find those who already believe in them. Interesting….
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All Hail the Captain Coach

One of the questions we regularly discuss with clients and colleagues is “What makes for a good leader in Australia?” and I keep coming back to the work of Graeme Hubbard and his colleagues in the book “The First XI”. They describe good leadership in Australia as:

“Captain coach leadership – where the leaders are part of the team, on the field of play, yet leading and coaching at the same time”.

This rings true for many of us, we want leaders we can model – who have attributes that we desire to develop – and we want them to be part of the team with us – someone who is approachable enough that we can ask for their support and encouragement. This is admirable and it is also a challenge because the implication is that leaders can and should model and coach others in everything they need to know and do.

The next question that intrigues me is “what can our leaders do?”, if, in the language of sport, they are not able to be ‘best and fairest’, ‘highest goal kicker’ and ‘best team player’, all at the same time and an attractive answer comes from the strengths-based approach.

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