A few years back I was fortunate to attend an event called The Growth Summit, an annual event coordinated and hosted by The Growth Faculty. That year, Jim Collins was the headline speaker, an internationally renowned leadership expert and author of #1 best seller 'Good to Great'. I've just finished reading that book for the third time over the past 10 years!

The Growth Summit included topical presentations on leadership, innovation, high performance teams, developing future leaders, business growth and building real market value - still relevant today. In particular, the session with Jim Collins and his 'Twelve Questions' was one of the most informative and memorable presentations I've had the opportunity to expereince. Jim's Twelve Questions referred to what leaders should think seriously about in order to try and achieve their best. In many ways, the questions are not difficult to consider as we have most probably thought about them often. What is challenging though is determining our own leadership behaviours and styles; as it's sometimes hard to take that real hard look at yoursef.

The Twelve Questions focus on the following:

  1. Strive for Level 5 Leadership - Collins' five-level system of leadership explains that level five leaders succeed because they not only have the will, but humility and ability to have their people 'follow a cause' rather than just 'achieve a goal'.

  2. Get the right people on the bus - have key people in your team, in the right roles.

  3. Face the brutal facts - be honest about where things are at and don't be afraid to share it with your team.

  4. Know what your Hedgehog Concept is - here Collins talks about trying to be the best in what you do; be aware of your passion, know what you can be the best at and know what motivates you.

  5. Be clear about your 20 Mile March - consistency and growth in small increments (the consistent 20 mile March) leads to more successful outcomes.

  6. Fire the small bullets before the big cannonball - know what your capabilities are before you launch; failure can come if you don't fire enough bullets, didn’t fire the cannon ball when you should have, or fired the cannon ball when you weren’t ready.

  7. Use productive paranoia to your advantage - remember past success doesn't equal future success and it's normal to be cautious and skeptical...this is productive paranoia where your prudence may save you in the long run.

  8. Build a clock rather than tell the time - provide the environment where your people can do their best and not need to rely on you forever...you have succeeded when you can step back and see that your team can run things smoothly without you.

  9. Keep the values and change what is outdated - know what your core purpose is, beyond just making money and keep true to agreed values without stifling progress.

  10. Find your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) - create excitement and momentum with a key shared goal.

  11. Appreciate and use the luck that comes your way - be sure to capitalise on the luck that comes your way, whatever it may be.

  12. Create a 'Stop Doing' list - decide which things are a waste of time and don't add value...then just stop doing them!

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” Jim Collins

More on Jim Collins and his thoughts on leadership can be found at www.jimcollins.com.

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