Jim Collins

Socratic advisor to leaders, focusing on what makes a business great and not just good; introduced five levels of leadership and the flywheel effect. 


Ranked #41 in 2019. 

Previous positions:

#31 (2017), #28 (2015), #12 (2013), and #4 (2011). 


Good to Great was featured on the Thinkers50 Management Classics Booklist in 2023.


Avid rock climber: completed single-day ascents of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley.


Collins has introduced a range of new concepts and terms to the leadership lexicon. These include “level 5 leadership”, where leaders put the cause of their organization first, and inspired standards – rather than inspiring personality – become the motivation. He also created the “flywheel” principle of sustained momentum, demonstrating that the building of any human enterprise is not about one single defining action, or one killer innovation; instead, it is a process that resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, gradually building momentum.


Collins began his research and teaching career at Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research and engages with CEOs and senior-leadership teams. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences and an MBA from Stanford University, and honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado and the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. In 2012-13, Collins served as the Class of 1951 chair for the study of leadership at the US Military Academy, West Point. In 2017, Forbes selected Collins as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.


Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great (HarperBusiness, 2019); Turning Goals Into Results: The Power of Catalytic Mechanisms (HBR Press, 2017); Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck: Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (with Morten Hansen, HasrperBusiness, 2011); How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In (CL Business, 2009); Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer (HarperCollins, 2005); Good to GreatWhy Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t (HarperBusiness, 2001); Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (with Jerry Porras, HarperBusiness, 1994).


Media picks


“Collins inspired a generation of business leaders, and his work continues to resonate.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest and greatest ideas in business, management, and thought leadership.

*mandatory field

Thinkers50 will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide news, updates, and marketing. Please confirm that you agree to have us contact you by clicking below:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at . We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Privacy Policy Update

Thinkers50 Limited has updated its Privacy Policy on 28 March 2024 with several amendments and additions to the previous version, to fully incorporate to the text information required by current applicable date protection regulation. Processing of the personal data of Thinkers50’s customers, potential customers and other stakeholders has not been changed essentially, but the texts have been clarified and amended to give more detailed information of the processing activities.

Thinkers50 Awards Gala 2023

Join us in celebration of the best in business and management thinking.