I have been saying that Good to Great by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras is the best business book that I have ever read. In this book, the authors describe what their research and evaluation show about what it takes to make a great company, with sustained excellence over a long period of time.
They refer to top-notch business leaders as Level 5 leaders who played very effective roles in building great companies. I have referred to their description of a level 5 leader and I have tried to be one.
Other memorable ideas that I took away from Good to Great was the Hedgehog Theory, the Stockdale Paradox, and Getting the Right People on the Bus. If you have not read this excellent book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. It is also fun to listen to the audio version.
Now I am working on Great By Choice by Jim Collins again and again, he and his co-author describe what it takes for companies to thrive. To take it a step further, this book deals with thriving in difficult circumstances.
So far I have learned about Fanatic Discipline, Productive Paranoia, and Empirical Creativity. Each of these characteristics describe what Collins calls 10Xers who, similarly to the Level 5 Leaders, are the ones thriving in difficult circumstances.