110+ James C. Collins Quotes On Education, James C Collins And Hiring

quote by
James C. Collins inspirational quote

Top 10 James C. Collins Quotes (BEST)

  1. Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.
  2. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.
  3. Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.
  4. The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you've made a hiring mistake. The best people don't need to be managed. Guided, taught, led-yes. But not tightly managed.
  5. Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.
  6. True leadership has people who follow when they have the freedom not to.
  7. The difference between a good leader and a great leader is humility.
  8. The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline.
  9. Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.
  10. Focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organization is the only path to greatness.

James C. Collins Short Quotes

Go to table of contents

  • Great companies foster a productive tension between continuity and change.
  • The only way to remain great is to keep on applying the fundamental principles that made you great.
  • An organization is not truly great, if it cannot be great without you.
  • A culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.
  • Mediocrity results first and foremost from management failure, not technological failure.
  • That good is the enemy of great is not just a business problem. It is a human problem.
  • Change your practices without abandoning your core values.
  • People are not your most important asset....the right people are.
  • Faith in the endgame helps you live through the months or years of buildup.
  • Level 5 leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless.

James C. Collins Quotes On Leadership

Go to table of contents

A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people. — James C. Collins

Level 5 leaders are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results. They are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the company great, no matter how big or hard the decisions. — James C. Collins

Those who turn good organizations into great organizations are motivated by a deep creative urge and an inner compulsion for sheer unadulterated excellence for its own sake. — James C. Collins

If your company disappeared, would it leave a gaping hole that could not easily be filled by any other enterprise on the planet? — James C. Collins

If we allow the celebrity rock-star model of leadership to triumph, we will see the decline of corporations and institutions of all types. The twentieth century was a century of greatness, but we face the very real prospect that the next century will see very few enduring great institutions. — James C. Collins

Creative leadership impact increases in your 50's. When I turn 50 I want to say, "Nice start!" — James C. Collins

James C. Collins Quotes On Life

Go to table of contents

Comparison, a great teacher once told me, is the cardinal sin of modern life. It traps us in a game that we can't win. Once we define ourselves in terms of others, we lose the freedom to shape our own lives. — James C. Collins

For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. — James C. Collins

Profit is like oxygen, food, water, and blood for the body; they are not the point of life, but without them, there is no life. — James C. Collins

Most people will look back and realize they did not have a great life because it's just so easy to settle for a good life. — James C. Collins

Dreams make you click, juice you, turn you on, excite the living daylights out of you. You cannot wait to get out of bed to continue pursuing your dream. The kind of dream I'm talking about gives meaning to your life. it is the ultimate motivator. — James C. Collins

In a truly great company profits and cash flow become like blood and water to a healthy body: They are absolutely essential for life but they are not the very point of life — James C. Collins

There is a sense of exhilaration that comes from facing head-on the hard truths and saying, "We will never give up. We will never capitulate. It might take a long time, but we will find a way to prevail." — James C. Collins

Not all time in life is equal. How many opportunities do you get to talk about what your life is going to add up to with people thinking about the same question? — James C. Collins

We must reject the idea... Well-intentioned, but dead wrong... That the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become "more like a business." Most businesses... Like most of anything else in life... Fall somewhere between mediocre and good. — James C. Collins

Those fortunate enough to find or create a practical intersection of the three circles have the basis for a great work life. — James C. Collins

James C. Collins Famous Quotes And Sayings

Go to table of contents

Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people. — James C. Collins

We are not imprisoned by circumstances, setbacks, mistakes or staggering defeats, we are freed by our choices. — James C. Collins

It is more important to know who you are than where you are going, for where you are going will change as the world around you changes. — James C. Collins

Good is the enemy of great. And that's one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. — James C. Collins

You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be. — James C. Collins

Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats... — James C. Collins

The main point is first get the right people on the bus (and wrong people off the bus) before you figure out where to drive it. The second key point is the degree of sheer rigor in people decisions in order to take a company from Good to Great. — James C. Collins

Consider the idea that charisma can be as much a liability as an asset. Your strength of personality can sow the seeds of problems, when people filter the brutal facts from you. — James C. Collins

"Growth!" is not a Hedgehog Concept. Rather, if you have the right Hedgehog Concept and make decisions relentlessly consistent with it, you will create such momentum that your main problem will not be how to grow, but how not to grow too fast. — James C. Collins

Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious-but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves. — James C. Collins

Smart people instinctively understand the dangers of entrusting our future to self-serving leaders who use our institutions, whether in the corporate or social sectors, to advance their own interests. — James C. Collins

Genius of AND. Embrace both extremes on a number of dimensions at the same time. Instead of choosing a OR B, figure out how to have A AND B-purpose AND profit, continuity AND change, freedom AND responsibility, etc. — James C. Collins

The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is inconsistency. — James C. Collins

A visionary company doesn't simply balance between idealism and profitability: it seeks to be highly idealistic and highly profitable. — James C. Collins

The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconstancy. The signature of greatness is a disciplined and consistent focus on the right things. — James C. Collins

The most effective leaders of companies in transition are the quiet, unassuming people whose inner wiring is such that the worst circumstances bring out their best. They're unflappable, they're ready to die if they have to. But you can trust that, when bad things are happening, they will become clearheaded and focused. — James C. Collins

The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do, an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work. Genuine confidence is what launches you out of bed in the morning, and through your day with a spring in your step. — James C. Collins

The challenge is not just to build a company that can endure; but to build one that is worthy of enduring. — James C. Collins

By definition, it is not possible to everyone to be above the average. — James C. Collins

Indeed, the real question is not, "Why greatness?" but "What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?" if you have to ask the question, "Why should we try to make it great? Isn't success enough?" then you're probably int he wrong line of work. — James C. Collins

It occurs to me,Jim,that you spend too much time trying to be interesting. Why don't you invest more time being interested?" Collin's advice from John Gardner that he took to heart. — James C. Collins

Be rigorous about your HR decisions. There is a difference between rigorous and ruthless. — James C. Collins

Resilency, not perfection, is the signature of greatness. — James C. Collins

Good-to-great companies set their goals and strategies based on understanding; comparison companies set their goals and strategies based on bravado. — James C. Collins

People need BHAGs - big hairy audacious goals. — James C. Collins

Not one of the good-to-great companies focused obsessively on growth. — James C. Collins

How can we do better tomorrow than we did today? — James C. Collins

It may seem odd to talk about something as soft and fuzzy as "passion" as an integral part of a strategic framework. But throughout the good-to-great companies, passion became a key part of the Hedgehog Concept. — James C. Collins

In determing "the right people," the good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience. — James C. Collins

I've never found an important decision made by a great organization that was made at a point of unanimity. Significant decisions carry risks and inevitably some will oppose it. In these settings, the great legislative leader must be artful in handling uncomfortable decisions, and this requires rigor. — James C. Collins

I don't know where we should take this company, but I do know that if I start with the right people, ask them the right questions, and engage them in vigorous debate, we will find a way to make this company great. — James C. Collins

Genuine confidence is what launches you out of bed in the morning, and through your day with a spring in your step. — James C. Collins

Good is the enemy of great.. The vast majority of good companies remain just that - good, but not great. — James C. Collins

Discipline should amplify creativity rather than stifle it. — James C. Collins

A great company will have many once-in-a-liftetime opportunities. — James C. Collins

Not every financial company toppled during the 2008 crisis, and some seized the opportunity to take advantage of weaker competitors in the midst of the tumult. — James C. Collins

Recruit entrepreneurial leaders and give them freedom to determine the best path to achieving their objectives. On the other hand, individuals must commit fully to the system you use and be held rigorously accountable for their objectives. You give them freedom, but freedom within a framework. — James C. Collins

Leaders who led their organizations quietly and humbly, were much more effective than flashy, charismatic high profile leaders. — James C. Collins

You can't manufacture passion or "motivate" people to feel passionate. You can only discover what ignites your passion and the passions of those around you. — James C. Collins

You must ask, "What do we mean by great results?" Your goals don't have to be quantifiable, but they do have to be describable. Some leaders try to insist, "The only acceptable goals are measurable," but that's actually an undisciplined statement. Lots of goals-beauty, quality, life change, love-are worthy but not quantifiable. But you do have to be able to tell if you're making progress. — James C. Collins

Greatest danger is not failure, but be successful and not know why. — James C. Collins

I am completely Socratic. — James C. Collins

We learned that a former prisoner of war had more to teach us about what it takes to find a path to greatness than most books on corporate strategy. — James C. Collins

In an ironic twist, I now see Good to Great not as a sequel to Built to Last, but more of a prequel. Good to Great is about how to turn a good organization into one that produces sustained great results. Built to Last is about how you take a company with great results and turn it into an enduring great company of iconic stature. — James C. Collins

The greatest leaders build organizations that, in the end, don't need them. — James C. Collins

The x factor of a great leader is humility combined with will. — James C. Collins

Discipline is consistency of action. — James C. Collins

Those who build and perpetuate mediocrity...are motivated more by the fear of being left behind. — James C. Collins

A visionary company doesn't simply balance between idealism and profitability: it seeks to be highly idealistic and highly profitable. A visionary company doesn't simply balance between preserving a tightly held core ideology and stimulating vigorous change and movement; it does both to an extreme. — James C. Collins

The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency. — James C. Collins

Don't be interesting - be interested. — James C. Collins

Just because a company falls doesn't invalidate what we can learn by studying that company when it was at its historical best. — James C. Collins

Look, I don't really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we'll figure out how to take it someplace great. — James C. Collins

Throw leaders into an extreme environment, and it will separate the stark differences between greatness and mediocrity. — James C. Collins

The drive for progress doesn't wait for the external world to say "It's time to change." — James C. Collins

Start a 'Stop Doing' list. I'll leave it as an existential dilemma on whether to put that task on your To Do list — James C. Collins

Creativity dies in an indisciplined environment. — James C. Collins

I am not failing - I am growing! Do you have the ability to reframe failure as growth in order to achieve your goals? — James C. Collins

If I'm going really, really fast, I can do a page of finished text a day, on average. — James C. Collins

Don't take care of your career. Take care of your people. They will take care of your career. — James C. Collins

Our findings do not represent a quick fix, or the next fashion statement in a long string of management fads, or the next buzzword of the day, or a new 'program' to introduce. No! The only way to make any company visionary is through a long-term commitment to an eternal process of building the organization to preserve the core and stimulate progress. — James C. Collins

I see the Baldrige process as a powerful set of mechanisms for disciplined people engaged in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action to create great organizations that produce exceptional results. — James C. Collins

Whether you prevail or fail depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you. — James C. Collins

To have a Welch-caliber C.E.O. is impressive.To have a century of Welch-Caliber C.E.O.'s all grown from the inside - well, that is one key reason why G.E. is a visionary company. — James C. Collins

It took Einstein ten years of groping through the fog to get the theory of special relativity, and he was a bright guy. — James C. Collins

How can you succeed by helping others succeed? We succeed at our very best only when we help others succeed. — James C. Collins

The secret to a successful retirement is to find your retirement sweet spot. The sweet spot is where your passions, what you do best, and what people will pay you to do overlap. — James C. Collins

If you have a charismatic cause you don't need to be a charismatic leader. — James C. Collins

In a world of constant change, the fundamentals are more important than ever. — James C. Collins

If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could. I'd put off everything else to fill my bus. Because things are going to come back. My flywheel is going to start to turn. And the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people. — James C. Collins

A dream is a feeling that sticks - and propels. — James C. Collins

All companies have a culture, some companies have discipline, but few companies have a culture of discipline. When you have disciplined people, you don't need hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don't need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don' t need excessive controls. When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance. — James C. Collins

If you have more than three priorities then you don't have any. — James C. Collins

Some managers are uncomfotable with expressing emotion about their dreams, but it's the passion and emotion that will attract and motivate others. — James C. Collins

The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive. — James C. Collins

The only way to deliver to the people who are achieving is to not burden them with the people who are not achieving. — James C. Collins

The critical question is not whether you'll have luck, but what you do with the luck that you get. — James C. Collins

...the question, Why try for greatness? would seem almost tautological. If you're doing something you care that much about, and you believe in its purpose deeply enough, then it is impossible to imagine not trying to make it great. It's just a given. — James C. Collins

Life Lessons by James C. Collins

Go to table of contents

  1. James C. Collins teaches us that success is achieved through hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
  2. He emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision and setting achievable goals to reach it.
  3. He also stresses the importance of having a strong team of people who are passionate and committed to the same cause.

In Conclusion

Which quote resonated with you best? Did you enjoy our collection of James C. Collins quotes? Or may be you have a quotation about James C. Collins to suggest. Let us know using our contact form.

About the author

This collection is managed by , with an extensive background in quote curation. They have meticulously gathered, researched, and compiled the quotes featured on this page. Every quote has been diligently cross-verified for its origin, its authenticity, and its potential influence on our readership.


Feel free to cite and use any of the quotes by James C. Collins. For popular citation styles (APA, Chicago, MLA), go to citation page.

Embed HTML Link

Copy and paste this HTML code in your webpage