Jim Collins On Making Decisions

Today’s post is The Producer’s Point of View from our EntreLeadership Podcast producer Chris Mefford on my interview with Jim Collins.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, one of the fun parts of my job as producer of the EntreLeadership Podcast is to listen to some of the greatest business leaders and minds of our generation and get their first-hand knowledge of what it takes to succeed.

Chris asked if I would share my take on one of our recent interviews. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Jim Collins

We recently talked with Jim Collins, probably the leading  analytical business mind of our time. The topic of discussion was decision making. His books, Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall and Great By Choice have been on the New York Time’s best-seller list for years. His unique take on leading is second to none.  And his perspective on what causes a leader to fail turned him into one of today’s most sought-after speakers. In short: when Jim Collins talks,  people listen. And I was no different. Check out my notes on our interview below.

  • We asked Jim why, in his opinion, are decisions so important and why do so many of us have a hard time making them? Jim said, “Companies or individuals aren’t great because of one decision but rather many good decisions over time.” That kind of pressure can get to people it seems.
  • Jim said we have to gauge decisions based on their importance. He asked, “What is the more-important decision? Who you marry or where you live?” If you struggle with answering this one, go get the podcast now. For me, it’s the person I marry, live with and who has significant influence on who I am every day. It’s a decision that should not be taken lightly.
  • When it comes to making the right decisions as a leader, often Jim says it comes down to “trusting the right people.” How can you get to the point where you’re surrounded by good people? Collins laid it out like this:
  1. Share your core values with the team.
  2. Do not tightly manage them.
  3. Remind them they don’t have a job, they have responsibilities.
  4. Make sure they do what they say they’ll do.
  5. You must be passionate.
  • We also asked Jim about his belief that great decisions and great people begin with the simple statement, “I don’t know.” This seems like a paradox, but he said that humility is what builds great companies. By saying, “together let’s discover the answers,” it demonstrates the kind of humility a strong leader must have.
  • Finally, to close, Jim provided these nuggets to digest about proper decision making:
  1. Arrogance that leads to success will always eventually lead to failure.
  2. As a leader, ask two questions for every statement you make.
  3. Everyone needs “quiet-tude.” It’s a place to think and reflect without email or a phone.

It would seem to me that since you made the decision to read this whole post in its entirety, you make good decisions. So why do you think so many of us struggle with making decisions?




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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

32 thoughts on “Jim Collins On Making Decisions”

  1. It is amazing how many times I’ve gotten stuck on a single decision that in the big picture wasn’t that big. It was just one small decision in a long chain. Fear of making a bad decision was the primary reason.

      1. So I started reading a book today called Mindset. It makes me look at this post in a different way and may help explain why fear and other stuff keeps us from making decisions at times. In short, we have two mindsets: fixed and growth. When we’re in fixed mode, we shy away from stretching ourselves, learning and making decisions because of failure, being judged, etc. But when we exercise a growth mindset, we are much more open to challenging ourselves and making decisions because it’s all about learning and stretching our intelligence. I believe it was a person with a fixed mindset who said our ability to learn decreases at a certain age. =)

  2. Great blog! Have been listening to and watching some of his speeches, having read almost all his books I definitely agree with you that when Mr Collins talk people need to listen! Particularly like his emphasis on humility and discipline. Can’t wait to hear the podcast!

  3. So why do you think so many of us struggle with making decisions?

    I believe it’s because we’ve been conditioned to see bad decisions not only as failure, but a character flaw. So it’s safer to make no decision or decisions that aren’t bold.

    And watching the outcomes of decision making can be confusing. Two people make essentially the same decision. One turns out well. The other is a train wreck. That type of mental whiplash can often cause analysis paralysis.

  4. I struggle with making decisions sometimes because of the fear of the outcome. How is this going to impact my life, my work, family…but with that I think it also comes down to how much we trust God, ourselves, the team with the decision made.

  5. On my desk a quote from Roger Enrico
    “When you are faced with a decision, the best thing is to do the right thing, the next best is to do the wrong thing, and the worst thing is to do nothing”,
    I combine that with Thomas Huxley
    ” Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”
    Obviously I struggle with decisions!

  6. We struggle because we recognize the importance. When something feels like a struggle, it is because our standards of excellence exceed our capabilities. We stretch ourselves to meet them, and that feels like a struggle.

  7. Being self-employed and working alone without any one strong mentor, I NEED a crystal ball for those zillions of decisions with no clear answer. Lacking one of those, I lean into Romans 8:28. My personal paraphrase of it reassures me that God can take any crap I produce and turn it into fertilizer! Without that reassurance, I’d be paralyzed.

  8. Paralysis by analysis… F E A R… False Evidence Appearing Real… Perfectionism, waiting until planets are aligned to make a decision. I say send a bunch of knee- mail, listen to the reply, and let God take over when you can’t figure it out.

  9. Maybe we fear because once a decision is made (or not made – which is really making a decision!) then there is COMMITMENT – and then the fear of getting it wrong once we have committed. Maybe it “seems” easier to skirt the issue and not make a decision but it ends up being harder.

  10. I think it’s primarily because of fear and insecure feeling.

    One thinks of negative consequences and keeps dodging the issue. Sometimes we keep running from the issue rather than facing/confronting it. I am not advocating anyone to make reckless decisions. Rather, a leader should be able to make his decision with the information he has in hand and to take some calculated risks.

    Like it or not, decision making is going to be part and parcel of any leader’s life. One cannot evade that responsibility .

    A leader can have a group of wise counsels; but at the end, it is he who has to make a call.

  11. I think being too concerned about what others think and what one desires, as opposed to needs, get in the way of being about to make the decision that “should” be made. (obviously there are other reasons too 🙂 )
    Staying focused on God as number one in our lives really helps us to confidently make “unpopular” decisions.

      1. It seems like every time I make a decision based on God’s direction, it’s very unpopular. Anymore now, I expect the opposition. You get used to it 🙂 …usually… 🙂

  12. Many of us struggle making decisions at various times in our life depending on the circumstances surrounding us, new territory, old territory that has frightful memories, feeling of fear beyond anything we have had before, feeling like a failure, and many more things. When we are not sure of what we want, we don’t have the focus at a level we need it to be, so we don’t make a decision or don’t make a good decision. Sometimes I find that I am not patient enough on making a decision…sometimes being impatient means I make the wrong one. When a decision is pretty complex I make a list of pro’s and con’s, I have better results of analyzing the situation. I think a good decision making process is a skill learned over time. Very much enjoyed this recap!

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