Small to Great

The right team first

The business book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins has to be one of the most recommended books for aspiring leaders.

This is a great book on several grounds and for many reasons. The author and his team spent five years analysing the reasons why some companies will go from being ordinary to being great. One of the first lessons from the book is that great leaders tend to make sure that they get the right people into the company, move them into the right positions and then get rid of people they believe do not fit into their vision of the future. Once the team is in place, then they start the journey to their destination. Jim Collins talks about getting the right people ‘on the bus’ before the bus sets off.

Get the bus moving

The important thing about this step is that it allows the team to move forward knowing that they have the right team in place. There are other things to note about the book; the work is based on detailed and well analysed research and not just theories or unsubstantiated generalisations.


Another lesson from the book is that great leaders do not have to be flashy or have celebrity status, they do not have to be self-centred, egoistic or autocratic in the way that they deal with the people. They set things in motion, charge through irrespective of the situation or the surrounding noise. They believe in the team rather than themselves. They are humble and never see themselves as ‘know all’s’.

You may be interested in the pop and humility

There are several lessons from this book that every entrepreneur or business owner should take the time to practice some of the lessons from this book.

The Stockdale Paradox

The author referred to something called the ‘Stockdale paradox’. I love this concept for many reasons. The story was about how Vice-Admiral Stockdale of the US Navy, captured and became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam war. He survived some of the most difficult challenges for more than seven years. All this time, he had a belief that he would survive his ordeal. His belief was the reason for his survival.

Another important lesson  from this wonderful book is about the ‘hedgehog and the fox’ paradigm. This is about people who are cunning, flashy and unpredictable. The analogy between the hedgehog and the fox is that whilst the fox can be clever and manipulative, the hedgehog is only interested in its protection and self preservation from the clever fox.

The book was based on facts and data rather than the ‘fluffy stuff’. It also emerged that most great organisations specialise in areas where they can be number one, in product or services they are passionate about and there is a possibility of making money. Where these three things overlap, they will focus and concentrate their attention in these areas.

Surprisingly, these great leaders worked independently and at different time periods, yet they acted in the same way.

The great takeaway is what small businesses can learn from the lessons of the past to turn their organisations from small to great.

You may also be interested if your dream is to  start or buy a business

Dr. Ade Otukoya PhD