Session 2B – Jim Collins


Jim Collins – Great By Choice

Why do some leaders/organizations prevail in unpredictable, chaotic circumstances while others fail?
The difference in leadership behaviors led to success vs. failure. The X factor of what separates a truly exceptional leader is not personality, but rather humility combined with will.
Three distinctive leadership behaviors
Fanatic discipline
Eg: 20-mile march – imagine you are taking a cross-country march. You stick to a prescribed program no matter what the conditions.
It’s not just about pushing, but also not overextending yourself and leaving yourself vulnerable to the changing conditions. This is also a kind of stewardship. Consecutive, consistent performance. 
Eg: The expansion plan of Southwest.
What is your 20 mile march?  
  • Personal goals: quiet times, prayer, books you will read, marriage goals
  • Corporate goals: leaders developed

What do I need to TODAY to hit the mark with consistency? The signature is mediocrity is not unwillingness to change, but chronic inconsistency.

Empirical creativity
Cf. “Culture Making” by Andy Crouch – creativity based on a understanding of the data of culture. You don’t just become creative. You cultivate creativity by understanding what has happened. Cultivate, then create.

Blend creativity with discipline. Creativity is natural. Discipline is not. Takes savvy to combine discipline so that it doesn’t suffocate creativity.


Productive paranoia

Planning for the unforeseen and unpredictable. Taking the paranoia and translating that into buffers and contingencies when times get tough. How will you manage in times of plenty in case times of difficulty.
Eg: Joseph and Egypt
How much does this get distorted into a lack of faith? What about making room for  divine intervention? Stepping out in faith?

SMaC = simple, methodical, and consistent. Once you figure it out, you follow it. You have the discipline to follow it, the paranoia to consistently examine it (in case it isn’t working), then the data to go out and innovate it. Preserve the core and stimulate progress by changing behaviors and practices.

The Twist:
Think of an event that you didn’t cause, had a potentially significant consequence, and some unpredictability. 
How did you perform when facing that event?
What is the role of luck? In quantifying and defining luck, they defined luck as a specific event that meets the above criteria. Applies to the defn of a miracle. 
Are leaders who succeed the recipients of better luck? No, they were not luckier. Rather, they had the ability to respond to those events and make something of them. 
The bad events are defining moments. How you respond is absolutely determinative for your return on investment. 
On the one hand, they are extremely disciplined, and when unexpected events happen, they zoom out and ask how do we make the most of it rather than squandering it?
As leaders today, are we responsible for our performance or what happens to us? Greatness is not primarily a matter of circumstance, but rather a matter of conscious choice and discipline. 
Three tests of greatness:
  • Superior performance relative to mission. 
  • Makes a distinctive impact. Who would miss us if we were gone and why?
  • Achieves lasting endurance beyond any one leader. An organization cannot be truly great if it cannot be great without you. It can weather the chaos.

A great life is a meaningful life, and a meaningful life comes from meaningful work done with people you love. 


Session 2 – Condoleeza Rice

Session – Condoleeza Rice

Three shocking moments of the 21st C.

  • 9/11/01 – notions of physical security are blown up
  • 2008 – housing crisis, global financial meltdown blow up notions of prosperity
  • 2011 – Arab spring, totalitarian regimes do not stand, freedom breaks out, and this is not the same as democracy –> there is a journey towards maturity = strong cannot exploit the weak. Majority cannot rule, but make room for the minority.

Leadership is not just about having people follow me, but helping them see that they too can lead. Help others become leaders, but others will not want to become leaders unless they see that you are an optimist believing in the brighter and better future. 

How do you stay an optimist:

  • Keep perspective about how difficult your circumstances really are. If you are so focused on today’s headlines instead of looking for history’s judgment, you will achieve nothing.
  • Out of hardship comes often comes great achievement.
  • It is a privilege to struggle! There you realize your own lack of power and strength.
  • Think about past faithfulness. That those things that seem impossible seem actually inevitable in retrospect. But those outcomes were not inevitable, but the fruit of sacrifice and suffering. The outcomes of people who put everything on the line. Those are leaders!

Make it a world not as it is, but as it should be.

Summary notes from the Global Leadership Summit

Today and tomorrow, I am soaking (drowning?) in the wisdom of leaders from the church, academia, and business world.

I’ll post my notes and reflections as the sessions go. This might not be related to hearing echoes of the gospel in daily life, but I hope it will make you a better leader who creates your own echoes!

Session 1 – Bill Hybels

The idea of self-leadership: you are the most difficult person you will ever lead.

Work habits of a leader. The leader’s most valuable asset is not time, but energy, and the ability to energize people around him. *Ministry planning: what is the most important contribution you can make to the church in the next chunk of time? Look at a few projects/goals and put energy towards it in bursts.

“God didn’t make you a leader just to respond to things, but to move stuff ahead for the kingdom!”

Thoughts about Succession.
Planning phase: every important issue needs to be addressed. Who will choose? What is the timeframe? How will the retiring pastor be honored? What role will he take? Etc. Need to take your time.

  • Search phase: priority given to an external candidate
  • Transition phase: identify successor with increasing responsibilities and decreasing responsibilities. ~18 months.
  • These must be delicate conversations – it will be hard for senior leaders to think about transition.

Continuing thoughts about moving ppl from here to there.
Leaders take ppl from an unacceptable reality to a preferred future.

When is the vision most vulnerable? Beginning? Middle? Just before the End? –> vision seems most vulnerable in the middle when you’re in the middle of the tunnel, when you can’t see the starting point or the finish line.

When is a leader most vulnerable? In the middle of the run…mistakes catch up with you, change comes, can’t see the finish line. Must be very careful and pay attention during this middle phase!

When was the last time you thanked God for the privilege of leading his church?!