Jim.Collins (2)The second session of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit featured best-selling author Jim Collins.  Both Built to Last and Good to Great have been important books in the leadership and management genre.  They have introduced language like: “Level 5 Leader”, BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), “Right people in the right seats on the bus”, and more. However, in this talk Collins content came from his latest book, How The Mighty Have Fallen. In this session he laid out a very strong warning to leaders in the for-profit and not-for profit world by identifying the “5 Stage of Decline”:

STAGE #1:  Hubris Born of Success

  • Success leads to outrageous arrogance. Bad decisions made with good intentions are still bad decisions.
  • Level 5 leaders never give up and know it’s not about them.

STAGE #2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More

  • We must resist growth until we have the right leaders in the key seats

STAGE #3:  Denial of Risk and Peril 

  • “You must never confuse faith and facts.” – Admiral Stockdale

STAGE #4:  Grasping for Salvation. Finding the Silver Bullet

  • Greatness is never a single event, it is a gradual process

STAGE #5:  Capitulation of Values

  • Great companies endure because they have a reason to survive. Money is not enough of a reason. 


  1. Diagnose yourself.
  2. Count your blessings (min 100, and do it on a spreadsheet).
  3. What is your questions to statements ratio and can you double it?
  4. How many key seats do you have on your bus?  How many are filled with the right people? What is plan for getting to 100% with FANTASTIC people?
  5. Do you team diagnostics.
  6. With your team assembled, at the next meeting, do an inventory of your brutal facts.
  7. Create a stop-doing list.
  8. Define results and show clicks on flywheel (milestones/results that are concrete).
  9. Double your reach to young people by changing your practices without changing your core values.
  10. Set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *