by Dale Shumaker
How the Mighty Fall and why some companies never give in is Jim Collins next great work since Good to Great. Collins felt we need a more nuanced understanding of how decline happens, which led to his uncovering of the five stages of decline of a business. Every institution is vulnerable no matter how great, how much you achieved, how far you have come. Anyone can fall and eventually most do. Here's the trail they follow.
Stage 1: Hubris born of success.
Hubris is defined as excessive pride that brings down a hero.
The markers of stage 1 are success entitlement, arrogance. Success is viewed as deserved and people believe that success will continue no matter what they do. The primary flywheel (see Good to Great) is neglected as new adventures, opportunities grab their attention. The "what" replaces the "why." They see their success due to "what" they do, instead of the"why" behind it. "Why" do we do these things. Learning declines. When their desire to keep learning slips from the steep interest they once had, the decline is on the way. And instead of recognizing that success has a lot to do with fortuitous events, leaders think it has to be due to their superior qualities as leaders.
Stage 2: Undisciplined pursuit of more.
We anticipated that most companies fall because of complacency... failure to innovate and ignite change. Overreaching was more common. Growth becomes an obsession, and undisciplined pursuit of more with actions inconsistent with their core values. The Packard Law locks in... a company is more likely to die from indigestion (eating more than you can digest) than starving from too little. Problems in transfer of power added to the decline.
Getting people in the right seats is harder when having too much growth or too much diversity, when cash is too easy to get it erodes cost discipline, when people think in terms of jobs versus responsibilities, and when personal interests are placed above organizational interest... all these fuel the decline.
Stage 3: Denial of risk and peril.
The company makes big bets in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. They underrate conflicting data. In the face of ambiguity ask three questions:
1. What's the upside, if events turn out well?
2. What's the downside, if events go very badly?
3. Can you live with the downside? Truly?
Team dynamics erode, more blame is placed on external factors, and the company becomes obsessed with reorganization. Those in power become more detached and plush perks appear around them.
Stage 4: Grasping for salvation.
The grasping for salvation begins. Companies do desperate things because they now know they are dying.The hunt begins for the silver bullet. When one silver bullet fails another is sought. Silver bullets come in new programs, new breakthroughs, new acquisitions and new saviors. The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change, but chronic inconsistency. When calm deliberate action is needed, fear and a lurching, reactive behavior take over.
A new charismatic leader may be sought. A lot of energy is spent to motivate and buzz words inundate the vocabulary. The vision is hyped as they try to sell a future to eclipse the slide... with over promising and under delivering. There may be an initial burst of positive results, but hope is soon dashed.
Core values erode and people lose sight of what they stand for. Distrust looms and visions and value proclamations are seen as merely PR and rhetoric. Cash flow and liquidity declines, options narrow, multiple restructurings don't hold.
Stage 5. Capitulation (surrender) to irrelevance or death.
Cash dries up. Hope is gone, as the leaders see no resources they can get to continue the fight. What is the result of ceasing to exist... if it has too much negative impact on too many, leaders renew hope to find a path out of the darkness.
If you can find enough resources to get out of the grasping, you can reverse the course. You can rebuild again one step at a time. Great companies can decline and recover. Recover your values, renew aspirations to foster proactive behavior, and restate a state of mind of a constitutional resistance to capitulate.
Consider the challenge of Winston Churchill when Great Britain was doomed to be taken over by the Nazis in World War II.
"Never give in, never give in, never,never, never, never. Never give in to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force or the seemingly overwhelming might of the enemy."
Take the next step, get up one more time, and keep doing just that.
Go back to Good to Great principles and begin the next step at
Business Week featured numerous resources about How the Mighty Fall,
Lead Like Jesus is by Ken Blanchard, best known for his management classic, One Minute Manager.
Lead Like Jesus is an updated work which surpasses popular management thought. It is a radical, transformational theme that will revolutionize any business today.
It’s theme line “Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of all Time” makes a bold claim. And in all things considered, it is a very appropriate claim. Jesus had to be the greatest leadership role model. He is the one connected to the Spirit of the Universe which created everything, and still recreates… through you.
According to Blanchard, Lead Like Jesus involves the alignment of
4 leadership domains:
Heart (our motivation): our first choice in leading is whether we are motivated by self-interest or for the benefit of those we are leading.
Head: examines your beliefs and theories about leading and motivating people.
Hands: others see where your heart and head is when your motivations and beliefs affect your actions. You become a performance coach, setting clear goals, observing performance, praising progress and redirection of appropriate behavior.
Habits: how you review your daily commitment as leader to serve rather than be served.
Blanchard goes on to state that “the term leader is mentioned only 6 times in the King James Version of the Bible, while the term servant is mentioned more than 900 times.”
So as a leader we cultivate The Heart of a Servant.
Which leads to two questions we most ask ourselves:
Am I a servant leader?
Or am I a self-serving leader?
This reflects your heart's EGO.
Am I Edging God Out;
or am I Exalting God Only?
When we edge God out, we reflect pride and self-promotion in our actions. This is motivated by fear and protecting self. Pride creates separation from God and others, making comparisons and distorting truth.
Exalting God Only shows a Jesus Spirit of Humility and Spirit of confidence
which leads through forgiveness and grace… forgive to the same level God has forgiven you.
To lead like Jesus, we must become like Jesus.
How can we “Become” like Jesus?
In college, I studied drama. When portraying a character, we learned what is called the art of characterization... this is learning how to become the very person we are portraying. The characterization process is very extensive. The goal is to “become” the person you represent as an actor.
Study the life of Jesus with this goal in mind.... to be Jesus. To be Jesus’ thoughts, manner, ideology, understanding why He did what He did. Beyond that remember what Jesus said, “I will be in you, live in you.”
The Spirit of Jesus lives in you. Allow His Spirit to dominate you, guide and direct all you do. In prayer, like in characterization meditation, reprogram yourself to be the person of Jesus. The Spirit helps us when in prayer. Use prayer as your preparation time to be resurrected into Jesus and Jesus Spirit totally immersed into you. Through Spirit, you have “the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:16)
His Spirit implants His Laws in your mind, and in your hearts. (Jeremiah 31:33)
This goes beyond the "what would Jesus do" slogan we hear. This goes into “Being Jesus.”
... Jesus lives in you!
His Spirit rebirths “Jesus” in you; old patterns die. His Spirit takes over.
You will “Be” like Him. You allow all of Him to “Be” in you.
Then in all things you will respond naturally, as Jesus.
Be Jesus....and in Jesus Spirit you are.