Periodically, you read something that shakes the foundation of what you’ve come to believe. This is exactly what happened when I recently read Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. Reading it will make you think very differently about what defines great staffing and what you’re trying to accomplish. “The old adage ‘People are your most important asset’ turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” It is with this simple opening shot that the book delves into what it takes to turn a company from good or mediocre to enduring greatness. Over a five-year period, Collins and his team of researchers meticulously analyzed decades of business history, looking for the identifying characteristics of eleven companies that over 15-year periods beat the market by an average of seven-to-one. What was it that catapulted these companies far beyond their closest competitors? Was it a function of market conditions? Was it innovation? Did radical restructuring play a role? Was it technology? As you’ve probably already guessed, the answer was none of the above; the answer was great talent. And in order to be great, some of our most closely held assumptions about staffing need to be challenged. Great Leadership Executive recruiters take note: The era of the celebrity CEO may be over, according to Collins:
We were surprised, shocked really, to discover the type of leadership required for turning a good company into a great one. Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders seem to have come from Mars. Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy ó these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar.