I just finished reading Jim Collin’s book Good to Great. I found it a good, or rather great, read on leadership, vision, and managing people. Collins and his research crew spent a serious amount of time interviewing and examining companies which seemed to fit a specific mold. For instance, the most successful companies had what he called “Level 5” leaders (bold, humble, people who put company before ego), followed a Hedgehog concept (what can we best at, what can we have a passion for, setting a common economic denominator), and always dealt honestly with real challenges. Much of the principles could be used at any management level and have proved helpful for pastors or those leading non-profit organizations.
One of my favorite lines from Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America is, “Yeah, he (a male singer just referred to as “good”) is good and terrible!” The funny thing is (though I guess that’s not really the best word for it) that two of these Good to Great companies have now become Good and Terrible. Fannie Mae ran into a “bit” of trouble the other day, and just recently Circuit City filed for bankruptcy. The economy could have played a part, but it seems that they may have deviated from their Hedgehog concept by treating their employees poorly (according to some). Well I hope Walgreens isn’t next or else that will be 3 out of about 9 on the list!
I don’t know if this relevant, but this post brought to mind something I heard in a Public Admin course: Good top managers/administrators are interchangeable between non-related bureaucracies, such as heads of a sacerdotal type church organization, a CEO, or head of a government agency.GE
The findings of this study included all kinds of cool stuff on leadership, and basically confirmed what you said. The most successful leaders and CEO’s were the ones who were humble (credited others), concerned with the company after they would leave, lived and worked rather simply (as opposed to the comparison company CEO’s who had super-special office space and extravagant homes, and wasteful selfish spending). They seemed to people who had character as opposed to the other comparison companies who’s greed would sooner or later catch up to them. All that to say, yes, good administrators can be interchangeable. Totally relevant point Gus.