Laws Of Success: The Answers May Surprise You

Laws Of Success: The Answers May Surprise You

I just finished reading Jim Collins’ new book, Great by Choice and as he says, the results may surprise you; they did me.

Here’s the good news, if you, as CEO,  have ambition, creativity, vision, insight, a good strategy, are innovative, possess a willingness to take risk; in short, all the typical characteristics we attribute to leaders, you can become a standout success.

However, and it’s a big however, one that certainly caused me as a leadership coach to pause. All the companies Jim Collins and his partner Morten Hansen researched, were led by CEO’s with these characteristics – the ones that thrived AND the ones that did not.

Here’s what he did find that was different about these leaders.  The companies that thrive possess three common characteristics:

  • fanatic discipline
  • empirical creativity
  • productive paranoia

As I reflect on the great leaders I have known in my career as a leadership coach,  my surprise at the results fades. The great leaders I know all share these characteristics.

Jim drives this point home in chapter 2 as he tells the story of Roald Amundsen’s and Robert Falcon Scott’s quest for the South Pole.  When you understand what Amundsen did to prepare and Scott did not do, it becomes crystal clear why Amundsen was successful and Scott was not. Just as it will become clear why each of the high-performers Collins and Hansen study achieved their results.

I encourage you to read the book, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I possess these high-performer characteristics?
  • What am I doing today to focus on them each day?
  • How might I integrate my genius and my talents to maximize my results?


Elisa K. Spain

Laws Of Success: When Is It the CEO's Job To Create Drama?

Laws Of Success: When Is It the CEO's Job To Create Drama?

Recently, one of our Vistage speakers, Don Schmincke, spoke to my CEO group on “Discovering The Leader’s Code:  Ancient Secrets For Executive Performance.”

The primary message Don drives home is the importance of having a positive Leadership Saga – because, in the absence of drama created by the leader, your team will create their own.

Supporting Don’s message, an article in the September 30 issue of Science describes the efforts of two sociologists at the University of Vermont who tried to better understand the rise and fall of people’s spirits. They studied the moods of 2.4 million people by analyzing the words they used in over 500 million tweets originating in 84 English-speaking countries over two years (February 2008 through January 2010).

What they found was a daily cycle of positive and negative feelings that seemed to apply consistently across cultures, geographies, and time zones. Around the world, people’s positive moods peaked in the morning (6-9 a.m.), dropped through the day until reaching a trough by mid/late-afternoon, began to pick up in late afternoon, and peaked again in the evening.

Both Don’s research and that of Science Magazine raise the following questions:

  • What are we doing every day, to maximize how we spend our time during the positive time of our day? (Are you reading email first thing when instead you might be working on innovation?)
  • What are we doing each day to create the kind of drama that reinforces the vision we have for our business and inspires our team to do great work?
  • What results are we likely to achieve by taking action and changing what we do each day?

Click here for a full discussion of the Science article and implications for leadership.

Elisa K. Spain