One leadership concept that will lead you to greatness

Do you know what you or your organization can be the best in the world at doing?

Do you know what you or your organization is passionate about?

Do you know what you or your organization’s economic drivers are?  

Those are three questions that comprise a leadership concept called the Hedgehog Concept and should be questions any organizational leader is asking and evaluating frequently if they desire to keep their team or organization on the path to greatness.

This concept comes from one of my favorite leadership and business books, Good to Great by Jim Collins. This is a classic filled with several key leadership principles that are foundational to any successful company. It lays the groundwork for building a transformational organization and what leadership looks like in great companies.

The Hedgehog Concept gets its origin from the comparison between a hedgehog and a fox. The fox is easily distracted and is always thinking up new schemes in attempt to get the hedgehog.  On the other hand, the hedgehog sticks to the one thing it knows and does best; it curls up when facing adversity to protect itself.

The bottom line is it’s the leader’s responsibility to help the organization define its own Hedgehog Concept and help individuals within the organization find theirs as well.

The Hedgehog Concept is comprised of three components:

1.)    What you can be the best in the world at doing: This sometimes starts with a honest self assessment and figuring out what we cannot be the best in the world at doing. This is very hard and takes a high level of self awareness. We all see this often. We see leaders or others around us who think they are good at something when really they aren’t that good. This is a very difficult position to be in and will limit our effectiveness as leaders

Collins says, “A Hedgehog Concept is not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best.  It is an understanding of what you can be the best at. The distinction is absolutely crucial.”

Do you know what you are really good at doing? Do you know your strengths and are you operating within them? See my blogs on leading from your strengths.  

2.)    What you are passionate about: I’ll blog more about this tomorrow, but it’s vital that we discover what our passions are and ignite those in ourselves and in those we are in a position to lead.

3.)    What is your economic driver: This is what keeps you alive and competitive as an organization. Collins says “the good to great companies attained piercing insight into what generates robust cash flow and profitability. These companies discovered their single denominator – profit per x – that had the greatest impact on their economics.”

In other words, they identified what really mattered and had the internal discipline to stick to the important stuff. They weren’t distracted by the shiny ball bouncing in the periphery.

Collins says the Hedgehog Concept “is not a goal to be the best, it’s an understanding of what you can be the best in the world at doing.”  Have you taken time as a leader to figure this out for yourself and for your organization? It’s probably worth it to invest some time into answering these questions. Greatness is what’s at stake.

Discussion Question: Have you attempted to define these for yourself or your organization? If you have, how did it go?

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