To understand the changing definitions of the phenomenon, it is useful to look briefly at the findings of an influential analysis of business leadership, Jim Collins's widely read book Good to Great, which attempts to identify the characteristics that distinguish good companies from great ones, using long-term outperformance in earnings and stock appreciation as indicators of success. is The work's findings about leadership are striking because they are contradictory, at least with respect to popular expectations. It offers a typology of leadership with five levels of talent and effectiveness that inform the executive leader's intent to create greatness in an organization. Yet, ironically, the leaders of great companies were not characterized as particularly strong or forceful personalities, nor were they seen as visionaries. Often shy and self-effacing, they were generally uncomfortable in the limelight and did not draw attention to themselves or their personal achievements. Collins describes this as a contrast between personal modesty and professional will. These officers brought a powerful level of commitment, unwavering determination and excellent managerial skills to their responsibilities, but the focus was always on organizational objectives and goals.

> Leads by asking questions, not giving answers

> Using debate and dialogue, not coercion

> Autopsying mistakes without blaming

> Creating a red flag problem indicator in a fault information system.

Certainly a simple compelling vision was an important element of leadership in these cases, but it was the result of a collective process. (open debates and intense discussions, often over long periods of time). The focus of the conversation was not rhetoric about being the best company in the industry. Instead, analytical methods and collaborative processes were prepared to identify specific areas of activity or product lines in which the company really excelled or could become world-class. The idea of a bold leader imposing on an organization that has adopted a hawkish approach would be disingenuous to the top executives of these companies. We may think of leadership as vision, but leadership is about creating an environment where the truth will be heard and the brutal facts will be exposed. Drawing these findings together in a sharp, ironic inversion of traditional thinking about leadership, Collins concludes: “The moment a leader allows himself to be the main reality, the one people care about, the one with mediocrity or bad deeds, less charismatic leaders fare better than their more charismatic counterparts. Give long-term results”.

Collins' findings are largely consistent with definitions of leadership that have emerged in many fields over the past several decades. The personalities and styles of effective leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Often they are adept at delegating authority, but rarely are they immersed in the details of the enterprise. Most important are their practices and commitment and the disciplinary processes of leadership they embed in their organizations.