Sustain That Great Thing
The premise of “Good to Great and the Social Sectors” is easy to interpret and accept. Jim Collins’ thought behind this book is how to build a framework (or formula) of greatness while exposing principles that has the potential to lead to greatness. “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, as it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.” This conscious choice involves four stages:
- Cultivating disciplined people
- Engaging in disciplined thought
- Taking disciplined action
- Creating sustainability after making the leap to greatness
The primary focus of the social sector is sustainability: how do we make the resources last. It is important for an organization to transfer power to leaders over time successfully. A fellow cohort, Phil, often speaks about aging pastors becoming unwilling and ineffective at “passing the torch” to younger leaders, which results in a decline of many churches. We are encouraged to rely on strategies to stimulate organizational progress and success. The challenge is that we create a vision plan that involves us leading the organization without an expiration date but the reality is that we can’t do everything forever.
Collins overemphasize the need to get the right people on the bus, which is critical for sustainability. These “Good to great leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” Hence, having the right people on the bus becomes the number one resource. Stage 2 in our formula becomes critical because it allows us to engage in disciplined thought by analyzing our businesses and have faith in its success. However, if the analysis does not reveal passion and skill set, it will be difficult to cultivate a resource engine that’s built to last. “When charismatics communicate with passion, emotion, inspiration, and motivation, followers are likely to attribute charisma.”
Collins revealed timeless principles that remain relevant in this global change and these principles are guided by “a series of good decisions consistent with a simple, coherent concept.”
Two of these principles created personal impact.
Firstly, Level 5 Leader: “an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.” This leader builds a team with people who possess core values such as skill, passion, and humility. Level 4 Leaders (effective leader) are motivated by incentives or resources while Level 5 Leaders (executive leader) rely heavily on longevity which is a result of strategies and consistent core values that are relevant in an evolving world.
Secondly, money is a commodity and is incapable of attracting the right people. Business executives have the luxury to use money to buy talent, but the social sector relies on getting the right people on the bus. “Time and talent can often compensate for lack of money, but money cannot ever compensate for lack of the right people.” Many churches in my area have the challenge of getting the right people on the bus because they started out by using money to attract talent that didn’t align with their vision.
As a leader in the social sector, it is personally important to implement early assessment mechanism in getting the right people on the bus. “The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great.” Lack of resources can no longer be an excuse for lack of rigor or sustainability. Collins did an excellent job in documenting that when you have the right people, longevity is possible in the social sector. In the last year, my role shifted to overseeing and developing the music department for our campus churches. As a result, I was away from the church orchestra that I conducted at the central campus. It is fair to suggest that I had the right people on the bus because the orchestra grew to more than twice the number since this new role.
This is a great book that I’ve read several times and apply many of the principles in my business and social sector.
 Collins, Jim. Good to Great (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), p. 11
 Ibid. p. 13
 R. Mark Bell. Charismatic Leadership Case Study with Ronald Reagan as Exemplar: Emerging Leadership Journal, Vol 6, Issue 1, (Spring 2013) p. 65 http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/elj/vol6iss1/4elj_vol6iss1_bell.pdf
 Collins, Good to Great, p. 21
 Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap–and Others Don’t (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 2001), p. 42
3 responses to “Sustain That Great Thing”
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Garfield, in your music ministry, what have you found is the strongest contributing factor to creating sustainability in a church’s music and worship life?
Hi Garfield. Thanks for your reflection. Good stuff.
How does a level 5 leader in the ministry that you serve keep both humility and confidence to be on stage in front of so many people? To me that’s always been a paradox not easily held together. It seems like our culture in Christian America really has turned so many worship leaders into celebrities. Looks to me to be even tougher to hold humility and will together as a musician today than pastors. Do you agree?
Great insight! I really liked and agree with your observations on sustainability. You are right, there is not much talk on the subject and it’s importance. As a local church staff leader/pastor, what do you think most Sr. Pastors miss on the subject of sustainability as it applies to the local church?
See you in London,