Historical Persepectives

How is it possible that some companies in differing businesses are able to report consistent growth of revenue and earnings from year to year while other companies in the same industries fail to stay in business? Those companies that produce exceptional results also create a succession of exceptional leaders who replace retiring leaders and continue the pattern of success.

Another phenomenon is how a single business leader can breathe new life and profits into a succession of different companies, often in unrelated industries. Extraordinary engineers or scientist with impressive academic credentials often fail in business because they lack the ability to lead others. Conversely, exceptional leaders with little technical skills are able to lead teams of scientist and engineers to accomplish the impossible.

The great need for leadership extends to community service. Yes, there is a difference between what we commonly call for-profit business organizations and not-for-profit organizations, but the difference is one of tax status, not business plan. Any organization that does not set out to be profitable is doomed to failure. A quick reality check tells us that all organizations are in the business of creating a profit, sometimes a monetary profit, and sometimes a non-monetary profit.

The term not-for-profit is a misnomer; the true term for this type of organization is a public benefit corporation. The myth of the not-for-profit has grown over the years to the point that some believe that organizations established for the public benefit risk their tax exempt status if they are properly led and produce an economic profit.

There are many stories of community and volunteer groups that appear from nowhere, accomplish a phenomenal one-time success, and then cease to exist. What is it that makes those organizations different from other groups that have a tradition of repeated successes often spanning several decades?

Sports provide us with a lot of opportunities to participate directly or as spectators in leadership. Like the proverbial blind squirrel that occasionally finds an acorn, some sports teams will occasionally rise to the occasion and inspire all of us with an unexpected victory when the underdog beats the sure winner. The greatest inspiration comes from the exceptionally successful teams, and the exceptional coaches who provide leadership in a long series of successes. Beyond question, championship teams are full of outstanding athletes AND they almost always have great coaches.