The Foundation for 10X Leadership

“Great by Choice” by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen is a captivating study of companies that have prospered in uncertainty and chaos.  The methodology of the research was to first find companies in specific industries that fit a defined parameter of success (10xers) and then compare them to companies in the same industries that did not while facing the same market conditions.  The study’s findings developed conclusive evidence that the successful companies did not accept the belief that unpredictable events and uncontrollable forces determined their success or failure.  The 10Xers did, however, understand that they will constantly face uncertainty and be unable to predict or control events that will impact their results.   The core behavioral traits that are identified in the  successful 10Xers are examined as a leadership style that helps drive companies through both favorable and unfavorable conditions.  The book does a deep dive into these traits, and offers real life examples of how the 10Xers apply them.  If you haven’t read the book, I encourage all to do so. 

10X Leadership

The core behaviors displayed by the 10Xers that distinguished them from the less successful comparison companies were:

– Fanatic Discipline

– Empirical creativity

– Productive Paranoia

The research examines these behavior traits and how, when they are used in combination, lead companies to achieve above industry average results in all types of environments.  So, one would conclude, that if a company ( or any organization) would implement the practise of these traits and demand strict adherence to them, they would become successful also.  The authors do a great job of offering the reader a road map to the understanding of the how and why these traits will contribute to our success. In my opinion, they leave out an important ingredient to the successful implementation of 10X Leadership.


The “Secret Sauce”


When first introducing the core behaviors, they mention the following.

“Underlying the three core 10Xer behaviors is a motivating force: passion and ambition for a cause or company larger that themselves.  They have egos, but their egos are channeled into their companies and their purposes, not personal aggrandizement.”

When you read and study the core behavioral traits, this makes great sense.  The people in these 10X organizations are more interested in building something larger and more enduring than themselves.  It’s not about them, it’s about building a great organization, or doing a larger good, touching many others, etc.  These leaders build a company to be “Great without them”.


Unfortunately, not much is said about this key ingredient after it is introduce. Shouldn’t this “motivating force” be the foundation from which to build 10X leadership?   I feel this trait is also a core behavior, and the most critical one at that.  Without a team of leaders that leave their egos out of the mix, the 10X leadership traits can be implemented but will never reach the level of performance of a true 10Xer.  The other traits can be a learned behavior and strategy.  This ingredient is a natural one, and must be evident for the others to function at peak performance levels.  If you do not have this behavior trait in all of your key leadership positions, can 10X Leadership truly be used successfully?

Maybe this could be the subject of the next book…….

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