Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.

— James C. Collins

The most unbelievable James C. Collins quotes that are free to learn and impress others

Great vision without great people is irrelevant.


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.


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.


Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.


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.


Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.


True leadership has people who follow when they have the freedom not to.


The difference between a good leader and a great leader is humility.


The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline.


Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.


Focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organization is the only path to greatness.


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


About James C. Collins

Quotes 129 sayings
Profession Author
Birthday January 25, 1958

Great companies foster a productive tension between continuity and change.


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.


The only way to remain great is to keep on applying the fundamental principles that made you great.


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.


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


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.


Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats...


An organization is not truly great, if it cannot be great without you.


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.


A culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.


"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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Change your practices without abandoning your core values.


People are not your most important asset....the right people are.


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.


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.


The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change.

The signature of mediocrity is inconsistency.


The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconstancy.

The signature of greatness is a disciplined and consistent focus on the right things.


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


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.


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.


The challenge is not just to build a company that can endure;

but to build one that is worthy of enduring.


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


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.


Level 5 leaders are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless.


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.


By definition, it is not possible to everyone to be above the average.


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.


Faith in the endgame helps you live through the months or years of buildup.


Resilency, not perfection, is the signature of greatness.


Be rigorous about your HR decisions. There is a difference between rigorous and ruthless.


Good-to-great companies set their goals and strategies based on understanding;

comparison companies set their goals and strategies based on bravado.


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