Productive Paranoia

Just read Jim Collins’ latest book, Great By Choice, in which he compares companies that thrived during challenging times with those who didn’t.  Loved the book, and I like to share what I learn. So here’s one of the key concepts…

Collins explains that leaders of companies that succeeded in turbulent times “differ from their less successful comparisons in how they maintain hypervigilance in good times as well as bad. Even in calm, clear, positive conditions,” they “constantly consider the possibility that events could turn against them at any moment. Indeed, they believe that conditions will – absolutely, with 100 percent certainty – turn against them without warning, at some unpredictable point in time, at some highly inconvenient moment. And they’d better be prepared.”

Before reading this book, if you had asked me for my greatest weakness as a leader, I’d likely say my pessimism. I want to be a faith-filled confident leader. And in some ways I am. But in other ways, I am not. I often stare at the negatives and predict the worst possible outcomes. I’m come up with “what if” worst case scenarios and strategies to overcome them.

I thought it was probably my worst leadership trait. Jim Collins would say it’s probably my best. He found this is a universal trait in the leaders of companies that were incredibly successful in difficult industries or circumstances. It allowed leaders to be prepared for the worst and to get through the hard times so they’re still around when circumstances improved.

So thank you Jim, I now realize I am a leader without weakness!  🙂