Start with 1,435 good companies.  Examine their performance over 40 years.  Find the 11 companies that became great.  These 11 companies outperformed the market 6.9 times for 15 consecutive years.

The 11 great companies:  Abbott, Circuit City, Fannie Mae, Gillette, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Nucor, Philip Morris, Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, Wells Fargo.

Good is the enemy of great.  And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.

7 Key Points of the book:

Level 5 Leadership

First Who…Then What

Confront the Brutal Facts

The Hedgehog Concept (Focus)

A Culture of Discipline

Technology Accelerators

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop

Level 5 Leaders: Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy—these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.  They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar.

The central question of a great leader: What is the motive of your ambition, ambition for the cause or ambition for self-interest?  We live in a culture where 95% of all leaders lead for themselves.

Great leaders increase their questions rather than statements.

The good-to-great companies did not focus principally on what to do to become great; they focused equally on what not to do and what to stop doing.

The companies that made the list had more to do with simplifying and focusing more so than growing their to do lists.

The most common characteristic in leaders of this group was HUMILITY.

First Who…Then What—Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats—and then they figured out where to drive it.