Leadership Lessons

Personal Humility and Professional Will

Excerpt from The Misguided Mix-up of Celebrity and Leadership
by Jim Collins

Jim Collins discusses two important skills of the most effective leaders – Personal Humility and Professional Will.

Below are descriptions of these skills. Consider how you can use these in your own leadership experiences.

Personal Humility
  • Demonstrates a compelling modesty, never boastful.
  • Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards to motivate.
  • Channels ambition into the organization, not the self; sets up successors for even more greatness.
  • Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.
Professional Will
  • Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.
  • Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
  • Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less.
  • Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the organization—to other people, external factors, and good luck.
Taken from "The Misguided Mix-up of Celebrity and Leadership" by Jim Collins, Conference Board Annual Report, Annual Feature Essay, September/October 2001.


Each month, the HR Center for Learning and Leadership spotlights an excerpt from a leadership publication.

Recommendations for future leadership lessons may be submitted to askHR@baylor.edu.