People before strategy is key to greatness

The HR director is second only to the chief executive in terms of importance
within the business, according to Jim Collins, keynote speaker at the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) conference.

Collins, co-author of the renowned book Built to Last, believes HR has a
major responsibility to create pockets of greatness and, in a flawless present-
ation, he explained how.

For 75 minutes, delegates were treated to Collins’ passion for detailed
research into what makes organisations grow and attain superior performance.
His focus is all about moving from just being good to becoming great, by
getting and retaining enough of the right people.

"Good-to-great leaders begin by getting the right people on the bus,
the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats – and then
work out where to drive it," he said. "Who is in the business comes
first, and then the strategy, not the other way around."

Collins claimed that while high-profile leaders with big personalities make
headlines, great leaders are very different. They are self-effacing, reserved,
and have a blend of personal humility and professional will. These leaders have
tremendous ambition for the cause, the company and the work – not for

By Jane King

Tips for creating great companies:

– Greatness is a cumulative process – not a single event.

– Transformation happens with disciplined people, disciplined
thought and disciplined actions

– Those who build greatness put people before strategy

– Look for leaders who leave an impressive legacy when they
move on – is the company still doing well after they have departed?

– Charismatic leaders can be a liability

– Be radical about changes in practices, structures, goals and

– Preserve core values and purpose

– Give people freedom and responsibilities within a shared

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