In reading Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t” I was struck by Jim Collins’ answer when asked what motivated him to take on huge projects. His answer was, “curiosity.” “There is nothing I find more exciting than picking a question that I don’t know the answer to and embarking on a quest for answers.” It was Collins’ curiosity that took him on a journey to search for good-to-great examples. Yet, Collins did not embark on this journey alone. He assembled a team of 21 people who worked on this project. And for several years they worked steadily on researching and discovering the answer. Throughout their process their efforts were put into discovering how “good” organizations turn into one that produces sustained “great” results. Curiosity, teamwork, intentionality and patience took them on a journey of greatness.
I was intrigued by the various ideas that Jim Collins drew out of this research–specifically in the area of leadership. The type of leadership that makes for greatness was a shocking discovery for Collins. It wasn’t the big personalities, charismatic, dynamic leaders who turned good companies to great ones. But the great company leaders were those who have a blend of personal humility and professional will. He describes these leaders more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar. These are leaders who more concerned about the good of the organization, the success of the organization and future of the organization rather than about promoting themselves. These are the kinds of leaders that when the time comes for them to step down, they want to make sure that whoever succeeds them will be just as effective, if not more effective.
However, Collins states that there are leaders whose goal is to stand out, and to have their personal record on display. These leaders, which Collins calls comparison leaders, often fail to set the organization up for success in the next generation.
I have seen both kinds of pastoral leaders. Yet, it saddens me to say that I often encounter more of the comparison leaders than Level 5 leadership. I have seen pastors leave their congregations and be more concerned about leaving their legacy — having a window named after them, or a bench or a classroom–rather than assuring that the next leader who comes will lead the church to the next level of greatness.
I am reminded of the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples—“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus didn’t leave us to fail, but to succeed and to do greater things.
Collins quotes Harry S. Truman, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.” Great leaders seek the good of the organization’s future, even when they are no longer serving in that specific organization.
Great leaders and organizations also get the “right people” on the bus and the wrong people off the bus! Collins is not talking about the right people being your buddies, your favorites, or your “yes” people. And he is not talking about the wrong people being your enemies. The right people are those who are able to adapt to changes in direction or strategy. The right people are those who you do not have to motivate in order for them to share in the desire to achieve greatness. They are already motivated and fired up to produce the best results and be part of creating something great.
Unfortunately, sometimes in our churches, getting people off the bus is very difficult–because we put the wrong people on the bus. Over and over again, I have seen people put in places of leadership because they are simply a “warm body.” They are not asked to get on the bus because they are the “right” people but because we are desperate to fill a positon or fill a seat. This is what might keep an organization from being great. We need to be discerning when we ask people to get on the bus. Collins states that great vision without great people is irrelevant.
For Collins a great leader is not about being soft or nice, but about making sure that the right decisions happen, no matter how difficult or painful, for the long-term greatness of the institution and the achievement of its mission, independent of consensus or popularity. 
 Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t” (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publisher, 2001) 131 Kindle.
 Ibid., 152 Kindle.
 Ibid., 232 Kindle.
 Ibid., 442 Kindle.
 Bible, New International Version (Acts 1:8).
 Ibid., 720 Kindle.
 Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, (Boulder, CO: J. Collins, 2005) 11.