20 Things all Great Organizational Leaders Do


Jim Collins said he wanted to write a book about great organizations not great leaders. But as his research grew, he realized great organizations had one thing in common, great leaders. He ended up writing, “Good to Great,” a book about leaders.

Never underestimate the power of lousy leaders
to demotivate people and destroy organizations.

The roots of great organizations are found in great leaders.

Great organizations have leaders who:

  1. Have mentors and coaches.
  2. Point out uncomfortable truths quickly, honestly, and compassionately.
  3. Live authentically. Fakers can’t be trusted. Trust is foundational to influence.
  4. Monitor and manage emotional states. Feelings impact performance.
  5. Expect results and don’t make excuses.
  6. Compare themselves with their potential, not others.
  7. Concentrate on people. Love is a leadership word.
  8. Clarify and narrow focus.
  9. Make others feel powerful. Employees in great organizations don’t say, “Things never change.”
  10. Love winning and compete aggressively.
  11. Talk and act humbly. Great leaders make others great. They’re never full of themselves.
  12. Engage with others without interfering.
  13. Ask “stupid” questions. They aren’t afraid to look stupid by not knowing.
  14. Prioritize culture building.
  15. Set direction but delegate decisions to those closest to the action.
  16. Hold themselves and others to high, agreed upon, standards.
  17. Have fun. Many leaders I know take themselves too seriously.
  18. Recognize, reward, praise, and honor others.
  19. Give back to the community. Generosity is normal, not rare, for leaders who build great organizations.
  20. Face forward by thinking, talking, and acting with the future in mind.

(This post is the result of reflecting on the presentations at the Great Place to Work Annual Conference 2013)

After writing this post, I found a post I wrote on 6/5/11 titled: “20 Proven Things All Great Leaders Always Do.” It was fun comparing the lists.

Which qualities do you find most important, challenging, or fulfilling?

What behaviors would you add to this list?

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