Why do some leaders thrive in difficult circumstances while others do not?
Collins and his team have spent over 9 years trying to answer this question.
Answer: the differences in the leadership behaviors between those who thrive and those who fail has to do with an X factor, which is Humility combined with Will.
Illustration of the two groups who tried to make it to the South Pole in 1911 - one made it and one died. Amundsen and Scott. Why? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_the_Amundsen_and_Scott_Expeditions
3 distinctive leadership behaviors that sit on the X factor of Humility/Will:
Fanatic Discipline, Empirical Creativity, Productive Paranoia
Fanatic Discipline - a 20 mile march every day. Someone will just keep going and do what needs to be done no matter the circumstances. It also involves not pushing too far and getting beyond your capability. Hold to your values and philosophy no matter the circumstances. They manage themselves well in good times so they will survive in bad times. They do not overstretch.
Southwest Airlines is a good example of this. Do the same thing every day and do not overstretch. They managed themselves in bad times so they can do well in good times.
He brings in the Flywheel and applies it to the discipline of the 20 mile march. Consecutive performance and be disciplined. You will hit it not as an average, but as consistent, consecutive performance.
What energy burst do we need today to hit our mark with consecutive consistency. The true signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.
It is good to be creative, but you need to test your creativity and new technologies. Try to figure out what will actually work. Ask questions. Test.
Innovation is great, but those who can blend creativity and discipline. We don't need more and more innovation without discipline. Creativity is not the hard part. Being disciplined to test and learn and apply and figure out what will work - that is the key. Creativity is natural. Discipline is not. Creativity is the infinitely renewable human state. The challenge is to get rid of the obstacles. The rare skill is to marry creativity to discipline so that you can be effective. Fire bullets before cannonballs and do a 20 mile march each day.
It is what you do before you are in trouble and difficult times come that makes the difference so that you can be strong when people most need you. If you are only strong when conditions are good, you are engaging in malpractice. We should always be prepared. We should be strong so we can get through the bad times and help people in need.
SMaC Principle - Specific, Methodical, and Consistent. Get the Flywheel going.
The greatest danger is not failure, it is to be successful without understanding why you were successful in the first place.
Southwest Airlines only flies 737s. Every pilot can fly every plane. All of the gates are the same. Maintenance costs are lower. Safety practices are higher. Everything is more efficient and thus, more profitable.
Every church should have SMaC Principles - You follow them with discipline, you are always questioning, and you bring change with empirical testing.
You must preserve the core no matter what - protect your values. But, you must also stimulating progress though changing practices. Having a SMaC recipe constantly evolving is like having a Constitution with Amendments.
Luck - a specific event that meets 3 tests: You didn't cause it, potential significant consequences good or bad, you weren't expecting this - it is a suprise. You could also call this a miracle.
The great winners in business are not luckier or have more miracles in the sense that they experienced more. Rather, the ones who win and have a greater Return on Investment are not the ones who experience the greatest events but are the ones who do something with it. They do not squander the good events that come their way. They make the most of the events that they were not expecting - whether good or bad.
Great leaders engage in the 20 mile march with great discipline and when unexpected events happen in moments of distortion, they zoom back, see the whole picture, and make the most of it - whether good or bad. If you are granted a miracle or blessed event or bad event, it would be the height or irresponsibility to squander it.
Is great leadership a matter of what we do or what happens to us? It is more important what we do than what happens to us. Good things and bad things happen all the time. But, what do you do with those things? How do you react? How do you navigate both the good and bad? Greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance. It is a matter of conscious choice and discipline.
A truly Great Organization has the following characteristics:
1. Superior Performance relative to your mission (what you were put on the earth to do).
2. A Distinctive Impact - what would be lost if we disappeared? Who would miss us and why?
3. Achieves Lasting Endurance beyond any one leader. An organization is not truly great if it cannot be great without you. It is not just that you are Good to Great, but also that you are Built to Last.
Will you be there when people need you? Will you be there for your community? For other people?
A great definition of true friendship is to be always there for someone so that you are never alone.
We should all, in our life, be a part of building something enduring and great. What are you building? A ministry? A business? A friendship? A marriage/family? A nonprofit? You don't do this because of what you can get, but because it must be done. It is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work done with people that we love. Creating something of intrinsic excellence and beauty that makes a distinct contribution to the people and world around you and that you mattered by how you spent your time, your discipline, and your energy.