Chick-fil-A Leadercast: Part 2

Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010

Part 1: Connie Podesta

Part 2: Jim Collins

 This is part two of my series of “Takeaways” from the Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010.  I was so blessed to be able to attend this year.  Here are a few nuggets from the conference’s second speaker.  This post is a little long, but the lessons are very powerful.   I encourage you to read the entire post.

Speaker #2: Jim Collins – Business & Leadership Guru.  Author of Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, and coauthor of Built to Last.

Jim Collins spoke to us about the lessons that he has learned from studying failure.  Many leadership and business books focus on success but, “the contrast between success and failure always teaches us more than just studying success.”  When you contrast two companies (or individuals) with similar circumstance but different outcomes, you learn a great deal about the importance of choices and character.  We learn that we are not imprisoned by our circumstances, we are freed by our choices!

Collins found that the stages of failure are very similar to the stages of cancer (This speech was taken from Collin’s book, How the Mighty Fall).  The one major difference; cancer is not self-inflicted, failure is.  The five stages of failure are as follows:

1.  Hubris (Outrageous Arrogance) Born of Success – In other words, there is a serious lack of humility.  The difference between a good company and a great company is not leadership; both have great leadership.  The difference is the type of leadership.  Great companies have a leader marked by humility (this is different from weakness).  These leaders are not self-consumed; their concern is for the team.  A company or an individual who does not display this quality is in the first step of decline.

2.  Undisciplined Pursuit of More – A little taste of success results in an unquenchable thirst for more which often leads to overreaching.  It is possible to grow too fast, to take on more that you can handle.  How do you tell if your growth is disciplined?  By following Packard’s Law:  if growth exceed you ability to fill all your key positions with the right people you have went too far.  Why is this?  Because it all starts with having the right people.  Many times in this stage, a lot of growth in a short period of time causes companies to hire people who aren’t really the best fit for the job.  As a result, everything looks good on the outside, but cancer is spreading on the inside!

3.  Denial of Risk and Peril – We have all been here before.  The facts are staring us in the face but we try to excuse them.  The key at this stage is to practice true leadership as defined by Napoleon (this is my favorite definition of leadership); define reality and give hope.

4.  Grasping for Salvation – This is the stage when the fall actually happens.  As the free fall begins, most companies reach out for help.  This may bring some temporary relief but in most cases it is only prolonging the fall.  The evidence of false hopes and undisciplined growth has now made its way to the surface and is visible to everyone.  Remember, most overnight successes took twenty years or more.

5.  Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death – There is not much to say about this final stage.  The End.

 We learn some very important lessons in leadership and growth by looking at this process of a fall.  We learn that we will make many changes but we must not abandon our values (truth).  As we grow and experience success we must preserve the core and at the same time stimulate progress.  Mr. Collins put it best when he married together two very famous speeches; “We hold these truths to be self-evident” goes with “I have a dream”.

My challenge to you, take a moment and consider what these lessons can teach the Church about growth.  Consider what these lessons can teach you as an Individual about growth.  Let’s not make the same mistakes as those who now lay in the graveyard of the once mighty.

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