Good to Great by Jim Collins created a new standard in thinking about what makes companies thrive. Published about seven years ago, being great has taken hold. We are focusing on good to great, yet we should be centering on great to good.

Greatness is overpowering goodness in leadership.

I know that Jim Collins discussed the importance of humility and how to avoid self-serving leadership, but we are concentrating on the power of greatness over the empowering nature of goodness. We need to shift from great to good.

Subtle Thoughts on Great and Good

Just think about it. We hear “make America great again,” and certain thoughts may ring in our minds. Now, clear it out, and consider “make America good again.” Maybe it is a sign of the times, but I will take what the latter says.

We are focusing on the power of greatness over the empowering nature of goodness. We need to shift from great to good.


Here’s what I hear between the two. When I hear “make great again,” what comes to mind is:

  • Self-centeredness
  • Divisiveness
  • Past

When I hear “make good again,” what comes to mind is:

  • Purpose
  • Compassion
  • Present and future

You may feel differently, and that is okay. Share what you hear, and let’s have a conversation.

Great to Good: The Leadership Difference

good activates better

Good to Great Model

In leadership, when the pursuit of being great takes hold, mindset and actions can get off-track. When leaders think greatness, they begin to get stuck in what has worked in their past. Leaders with a great-centered mindset know a singular formula and apply it to all initiatives that they are involved in.

In turn, great-centered leaders direct actions, listening in very limited ways and soliciting input in selective ways. After all, leaders in this greatness model are putting themselves in the center of it all. Greatness becomes more about being right than doing what is right in a right way. Celebrity leadership is what greatness sinks to.

Great to Good Model

In the good-centered leadership model, exploration is the mindset. Exploring entails market and industry research, engaging conversations with team members and experts, and collecting information to understand trends. Good-centered leaders are looking for the best path forward to solve a problem or resolve a challenge.

As part of the good-centered model, collaboration is the preferred working method. Good-centered leaders know they are not the know-it-all. Instead, they work to bring the best work and insights out of the team and organization. A belief in the goodness of people and their talents is what drives leaders in this model. They are activist leaders, pursuing good in their work.

Ed Stack: Leading from a Good Mindset and Actions

After Parkland, students said “enough” and backed their words with actions to lead change. Florida passed new gun laws. Although not perfect, it is a step in a better direction.

Even before a state could take action, business leaders did. Many changed how they would sell guns and what type of guns they would sell. Ed Stack is one of those CEOs. Ed leads Dick’s Sporting Goods. The actions of his company:  stop selling assault weapons, stop selling high-capacity magazines, and stop selling guns to customers under age 21.

Ed Stack does not seem to be a leader stuck in doing things the same way as before or that, because of the greatness of their company, they do not need to change. Instead, he selected a different path to determine if their company can affect positive change.

More than taking action, he outlined what the country needs to do, including:

  • Ban assault-style firearms
  • Raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21
  • Ban high capacity magazines and bump stocks
  • Require universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law
  • Ensure a complete universal database of those banned from buying firearms
  • Close the private sale and gun show loophole that waives the necessity of background checks

Ed Stack could have stopped at his company doors. Instead, he is advocating policy change at a nationwide level. A new era of business leader activism continues to grow.

Pursue Greater Good Instead of Greatness

Business leader activism is embracing the greater good over self-centered greatness. We need more good than great. When pursuing making something great again, it fails when it builds walls, gives false hope of return to mythical good old days, and disparages some individuals or groups over others. Greatness will not work in the long-term.

What will continue to work is a leadership focus on doing what is good. They answer questions like:

  • What is good character that we want to exemplify and develop?
  • What greater good solution can we create and implement?
  • What is the goodness in others that we can bring to life?

We need more activist business leaders to lead with goodness. By bringing out the good, we can get greatness, but it is a greatness through goodness. Simply, it is a greater good over segmented or individual greatness.

Our time is here to go from great to good in the way we lead.


Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash


In leadership, we need a shift from great to good. We need to focus more on the greater good than individual greatness. Good activates better leadership, and the time is now.