Open Mike! With Mike Bedard – Good vs. Great Leaders: The Difference is a mirror!

CFN – The Difference between a Good Leader and a Great Leader is Humility, Doubt and Drive!
James C. Collins loves to tell the story of Darwin E. Smith, someone most readers have probably never heard of. As Smith was ending two decades at the helm of Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kleenex and other personal-use paper products, he was asked what had driven him, what had he done to make his company so successful over time.

“I was just trying to become qualified for the job,” Collins quotes Smith as saying.
Smith’s statement is at the heart of Collins’ latest management study, which finds that leaders of great companies have genuine humility and self-doubt but also the singular drive to make their companies succeed.


Collins, a former Stanford Business School professor now based in Boulder, Colo., and his 22-person research staff spent four years trying to determine what made companies grow from merely good organizations to great ones and what sorts of leaders were responsible for that transition.


Early on in the process, he took as a premise that goodness was anathema to greatness.


“Good is the enemy of great and is why so many things don’t become great,” he said. “We don’t have really great schools because we have good schools. We don’t have great companies because we have so many good ones. And when we look back over a life and see if it is a great one, we don’t see many because it is just so easy to settle for a good one.”


And this is where the City of Cornwall lays, in mediocrity and for arguments sake a GOOD City with so much untapped potential to become GREAT but too many of our leaders lack what it takes to become GREAT and are missing one of three important traits that are instilled in GREAT LEADERS!  These personal traits of HUMILITY, DOUBT and DRIVE!

Business Comparison

In business, as a young academic, I learned about “Level 5 Leadership”.  Leadership has become our all-purpose answer for everything we don’t understand about business. In the 1500s, we had another answer to unresolved questions. If there was an earthquake, we didn’t know how it happened, so we said, ‘God did it.’ The plague? ‘God did it.’”


Then scientific breakthroughs made us realize that earthquakes were caused by seismic shifts and plagues by epidemiological consequences. “But in management, we are still in the Dark Ages and our answer always seems to be ‘leadership.’”


The combination of complex and sometimes contradictory traits of humility and internal drive ‘Level 5 leadership,’ the top form of hierarchy of management personal attributes. In fact the prominence of Level 5 executives is cut off by those we call Level 4 types – people who do have effective leadership skills, but are often more committed to self-aggrandizement than the sustained future of the institution.


Local Leaders both in Business and in Politics need to use a common evaluation tactic called “the Window and the Mirror”.  Level 5 executives tended to look in the mirror and blame themselves for mistakes. But when things were good, they would look out the window and either proclaims how everyone in the company was wonderful or how factors of fortune caused success.

Unfortunately we are drawn to Level 4 Leaders

Cornwall is without a doubt drawn to Level 4 Leaders and has an abundance of those in political office.  When can you say was the last time we had a Level 5 Leader in Cornwall?  We maybe never have and hence the reason for our untapped potential!  However, there are those with potential but these people will never be Great Leaders because again they lack DRIVE, HUMILITY or DOUBT!

Our current state and all of the local debates and hot issues can be co-related to the lack of GREAT LEADERSHIP!

During times of uncertainty GREAT LEADERS can keep a company, or for this purpose a community, together by “STANDING UP for what is RIGHT!”  Free speech cannot nor should never be condemned and bullied to the point that someone will suffer personally for their actions!  This is an act of violence and is a strong indication of weak leadership!
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cornwall’s Leadership is not GREAT because it is failing to simply look in the Mirror!  We are too quick to blame others or ignore touchy subjects!  A GREAT leader can tackle HARD subjects and looks forward to the most difficult situations because they require more work!  Our current leaders are GOOD but here are a list things that need to be said and are truly unbiased:

  1. If any employee has abused their position then they should be fired without bias!  If they are publicly being abused then they should be protected!  Cornwall City Council’s failure to either defend or fire its current CAO leads everyone to DOUBT that the CAO has done something wrong which may or may not be the case; either way something is better than nothing despite the current status quo of “HUSH – HUSH!”  It shows a lack of HUMILITY and DOUBT by City Council and the rest Administration!
  2. Despite personal opinion business and marketing decisions should be made based on their effectiveness and results.  Business to business transactions are done daily by people who do not personally like each other but at least the owners are HUMBLE enough to see the need or advantages of such transactions .  The Cornwall Free News has more local viewers than any other on-line media site operating in Cornwall and yet they are being purposely vilified due to the personal opinions and not based on results.  Professional decisions are based on needs and have no room for personal opinion!
  3. Not publicly supporting any side in the CCH French Language debate shows a lack DRIVE and purpose!  Although the non decision essentially is a show of support for the CCH; it would have been nice to have seen some GREAT leadership when the opportunity arose but yet many were left wanting more and I honestly agree.  Council should not be confused by the fact that some people were happy with the result.  That doesn’t mean the right decision or actions were appropriately used during this sensitive subject!

All in all, I love my City and it will always be a GOOD place to live, work and play but will it ever be a GREAT community?

Thank You,
Mike Bedard

Platinum Pools


  1. Just thought of a nice example of how my personal opinions never cloud my professional decisions. Business leaders are taught and eventually naturally make these decisions everyday without thinking twice about it but politicians often don’t spend money with people they don’t like instead of thinking of the results rather than the people because they worry too much about being grouped with these individuals!

    Here is my example:

    I hate Bell Canada with a passion. The fact that “George” from India, who we all know his name is not really George, calls me regularly since I changed to Cogeco is insulting since I never received phone calls or special offers when I was a client.

    I have had nothing but great service from “local” people and the pricing is extremely competitive at Cogeco.

    Bell own’s the Yellow Pages and, despite my personal opinion of them, I continuosly advertise with them even though they remind me of used care salesman! Why? They are widely used and are a proven business tool! They are viewed more than any other phone book and not advertising with them would not be a wise business decision!

    The personal aspect never crosses my mind or is quickly erased because my personal opinion honestly doesn’t matter! Marketing is based on results and so is business! If it doesn’t work then it is worth nothing and if it does than it is worth normally twice what you would have paid! So to is your business if it is working well it is worht a tonne but if it isn’t then you need to change! Close the business, re-start, change paths, do whatever it takes to get to the finish line or where you want to be but never take it personally it is business!

    The problem is everything is about votes and popularity when it should be about RESULTS! If we measured the success of our politicians by results we would quickly weed through the garbage and fancy speeches in very little time!

  2. “The problem is everything is about votes and popularity when it should be about RESULTS”

    very well said Mike.

  3. The problem is the way results can be achieved in politics. You need at least 6 votes to pass anything around the city council table, so you better learn the fine art of being popular otherwise your good idea will get foiled with bad execution and what could have created great results, will collect dust at the bottom of the motion pile. This is why I think business leaders actually have more power to create change than our politicians, they are the ones who produce results, create value… if only the politicians would let us entrepreneurs do what we do and the the hell out of our way with the red tape.

  4. Interesting article, Mike.

    So at what level does that put Monsieur No-Doubt, No-Humility, Negative-Drive Harper?

  5. Level 0….lol! I am not a fan of the latest on-goings but I am a conservative and despite my followings I am a huge advocate for honesty! Winning by cheating is losing in my eyes! Winning by doing everything right while inspiring others is a great start to level 5 leadership!

  6. All right!!!

    No reason to be coy, BTW, for being a (progressive) conservative; utter shame in being a (neo-fascist) Harperite.

  7. Re: PJR, thank you but I pride myself on being humble but never coy I speak my mind when needed!

  8. Way to go, Mike!

  9. “I pride myself on being humble”… you don’t hear it, do you?

    You know, there are two kinds of examples, and were an English teacher to throw this incoherent collection of tripe, rhetoric, and trite cliches in front of the class, well it wouldn’t be the good one.

    Consider, “cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity”, or as William Strunk Jr. was fond of saying, “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences,… This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

    Maybe try writing just one piece, just one, that doesn’t use “I”, “me”, or some off-handed opinion as though it were fact.

  10. Hi Simon,

    Unfortunately my columns are my opinions and I do use facts to prove my points! Can you show my where I have used off-handed opinion? If so then I will provide you with facts that you are obviously aware of! I apologize for not re-stating many well known facst and for not stating the histroy behind certain comments but I have been critized for providing too much and I am trying to make my articles easier-to-read and a little more entertaining ….which may not play into your liking…sorry!

    I hope you atleast respect the fact that I am not afraid to state my opinion unlike those that have been seen as cowardly for not taking a side during such turbulent times!

    Thanks for the response,
    Mike Bedard

  11. Mike, it is regrettable that your effort was expended on a response to a comment that really required no response.

    It should have been clearly stated in my earlier comment, that the author of “Open Mike” is simply a blowhard.

    The opinions are so shallow, so off base, and so riddled with cliches and junk quotes lifted from all night motivational infomercials that one wonders at the intellect, or lack thereof, that they would be flaunted.

    With ethics that are for the birds and such a totally delusional vision of self, it is laughable that the author — lacking even a modicum of understanding of our legal framework — considers himself capable of public office,

    Thankfully there is no need to produce evidence for each or any of the shortcomings that the columnist so eagerly shares… every ridiculous assertion, childish “lol”, wasted “!”, and illogical twist of argument speaks to his socio-political ignorance.

  12. Simon,

    Again would you like to use your real name? I don’t think you would because that would be kill your reputation..wouldn’t it?

    You continuously say that my comments are off base and off-handed opinion and yet when I ask you to SHOW ME JUST ONE EXAMLE you coward and change the subject!

    Don’t call me out my friend unless you are prepared to defend yourself! I am not one those, like yourself, that makes untrue comments and then hides! YOU DON”T EVEN USE YOUR REAL NAME! How pathetically immature is that!

    I receive positive feedback and comments weekly, in regards, to my articles……what feedback do you get? You sound like a certain insurance salesman that I wish would use their real name who claims to be a financial expert but but really only took a few weekend classes!

    Again, you are what is wrong with our society and the perfet example of a certain clique deals with critism!

    Always attacking the messenger instead of the messege! WHY! Because you honeslty can’t defend against the truth.

    I guess Ignorance is alive and well! I will not bend nor break to your weak and petty comments until you actually come up with some sort of credible debate!

    Thank You,
    Mike Bedard

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