Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No More Mediocrity--Lets Run Great Organizations!

I attended CompassPoint's annual conference last week--Nonprofit Day. The key note speaker was Jim Collins, author of, "Good to Great," and "Good to Great in the Social Sectors". He is so inspiring and he is an academic!! I aspire to be like him because he presents his research findings in relevant terms to nonprofit and businesses alike.

Jim challenged to strive for greatness in our organizations. He spoke about the difference between good and great organizations. He said great organizations have leaders who are disciplined, they focus on the who first and then the what. They have passionate ambition, and humility!! These leaders focus on building a great team of people around them and placing the right people on their bus.

I love the analogy Jim used about how we need to do clock building in our organizations so the clock will be able to run when we are no longer there. I've seen too many organizations struggle or almost fail because the founding Executive Director or a key leader left the organization. As a result, I am a strong advocate of putting systems and people in place so organizations can continue and be great without me. Turnover is so prevalent in the nonprofit sector!

Jim said that great leaders are able to reflect on how far they have come but also realize where they need to go. These leaders never unwaiver in their faith even with all the obstacles and time constraints they face. So, for all of us who love our to do lists, he encouraged us to create a stop doing list. This stop doing list will help us deal with our greatest issue of not having enough time.

One of the top companies that Jim writes about in his book, "Good to Great and the Social Sectors," is Southwest Airlines. In a time when the majority of airlines are struggling, Southwest shows amazing greatness which goes beyond the airline industry. On a personal note, My husband is currently a pilot at a commuter airline and his dream job is working for Southwest. I asked him the other day why he though Southwest was such a great company to work for. He told me Southwest is great because they put their employees first. By putting their employees first, Southwest has happy employees and as a result happy employees are great at their jobs!

As I reflect on Jim's talk, I realize many authors have written books about what the qualities are of great leaders, however unfortunately the majority of organizations and companies we come into contact with on a daily basis aren't great, they slide by with their mediocre work environments and bottom line numbers. We need to stop this mediocrity and create, as well as run great organizations. A leading expert in the nonprofit sector recently wrote on his blog, "We need less non-profits, not more." I would rather him say--we need less mediocre nonprofits and more great organizations, because great organizations have happier staff and are more effective at their work!!

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