Good is the Enemy of Great

We can do good work on auto-pilot, but great work takes initiative, creativity, passion and courage. That sounds like a lot of effort when there’s no burning need to change.

Cultures of Leadership Greatness Improves Employee Engagement 

Introduction

Jim Collins opened his book Good to Great with the statement, “Good is the enemy of great.” He explained that when we have good schools, good businesses and good government, we are prone to accept that level of quality as sufficient. Collins observed: “Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is so easy to settle for a good life.”

Many people have bold aspirations and dreams, but they end up settling for good instead of great. Unfortunately, good gives us a false sense of security. We feel ok because whilst we may not have reached our potential, at least we’re not bad. 

We can do good work on auto-pilot, but great work takes initiative, creativity, passion and courage. That sounds like a lot of effort when there’s no burning need to change

That’s why good is the enemy of great. It’s because it lulls us, deadens us and seduces us into thinking that we don’t really need to try. You’re not that bad, so why bother?

Too many times, we think that as long as we aren’t the worst, as long as we’re competent, if the person in the next cubicle isn’t performing as well as we are, then that’s good enough. It’s not anymore. The world as we know has changed and continues to change- we are living in a VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous times. There are many pressures existing externally and beside that have internal pressures that tells us that business as usual is not going to cut it any longer.

The only way to keep relevant is to strive for greatness. We need every person within our organisation to strive for greatness. We need our performance to match our potential. We need to step up and go to the next level. We need to aspire to greatness!

The Leadership Academy SA

That’s where we come in, as the Leadership Academy SA, we are an organisation of Leadership and Performance Coaches that aims at optimizing workplaces for economic and human development, by providing tools that create cultures of leadership greatness. 

We are a partnership with International Leadership Author and Authority on Leadership Dr. John C Maxwell, and the The Coaching Authorities:The International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Harvard Institute of Coaching.

The State of the Global Workforce 

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2017, GLOBALLY Only 13% of adults who work full time for an employer and are engaged at work across 142 countries worldwide are engaged in their jobs, 63% are disengaged, 24% are actively disengaged. The low percentages of engaged employees represent a barrier to creating high- performing cultures around the world.

What is the correlation between employee engagement and business outcomes?

According to Gallup’s employee engagement survey engaged employees produce better business outcomes (based on a composite of financial, customer, retention, safety, quality, shrinkage and absenteeism metrics) than other employees do, across industries, company sizes and nationalities, and in good economic times and bad. How do we improve Employee engagement?

We believe Leadership is the answer. 

“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” states Dr. John C. Maxwell, “Most people like being leaders by title and position, but being called a leader is only half the battle, learning to lead is the other half”. Dr. Maxwell explains that the key to greatness is transforming yourself and those around you into leaders who successfully lead in the real world is the key to success or failure for any organisation. 

People working with leaders who understand and live out their leadership ability are significantly more satisfied with those leaders’ actions and strategies. They also feel more committed, excited, energized, influential, and powerful. There’s no hard evidence to support the assertion that leadership is imprinted in the DNA of only some individuals. Leadership is not a gene, and it’s not a trait—it’s a set of skills, and anyone can learn new skills. 

How can an organisation create a leadership culture?

By creating a leadership culture at every level of the organization, you’re also creating a culture of accountability, boosting overall productivity, and raising organizational outcomes. How can you get started? 

Below we’ve outlined four methods to create a leadership culture.

1. Provide the Right Foundation

Clarify:

Leadership Development is a highly misunderstood factor. Many times, people and organisations use the words management and leadership interchangeably. Understand the difference between management and leadership. 

Gain Buy-in:

Attain buy-in from all levels of the organisation is key to instilling a leadership culture.

Peter Druker stated: “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast”. A culture of apathy and disengagement is sometimes evident from board level and runs rife to the lower levels of organisations. Therefore a culture of leadership demonstrated at board level improves the culture of the entire organisation. 

Training: Our programme Corporate Leadership and Governance has been developed to equip boards on effective leadership development at this level.

Develop:

Develop a recruitment strategy to attract leaders and develop new and junior-level staff to be leaders by giving them skills to increase focus, improve efficiency, and maximize their individual impact within a team. 

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Tool: Born to Win Toolkit.

2. Develop Strengths

All employees have strengths — the unique combination of talents, knowledge, skills, and practice that help them do what they do best every day. These strengths provide employees and employers with their greatest opportunities for success. What leaders do, or fail to do, with this workforce potential has enormous implications for a company’s future. Gallup’s data show that simply learning their strengths makes employees 7.8% more productive, and teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity. Investing in and focusing on employees’ talents boosts employee and customer engagement, according to Gallup’s research, leading to higher levels of performance, profitability, productivity, and greater earnings per share for businesses. Helping people play to their strengths is the most time-effective way to improve their performance and engagement at work.

Tools: Good2Great Leadership Strengths and Leadership Practices Assessment.

3. Promote Great Leadership Practices 

Culture wins. Culture is the behaviours and practices of the leaders of the organisation. 

Most leaders want leadership culture but the problem is that in many companies they just talk the talk and don’t walk the walk. Often the leadership culture then becomes just a reflection of the leader, which may be created subconsciously rather than consciously.

Our leadership practices fall into 5 broad categories: (1) Challenging the Process (2) Inspiring a Shared Vision (3) Enabling Others to Act (4) Modelling the Way (5)Encouraging the Heart 

Tools: Good2Great Leadership Strengths and Leadership Practices Assessment.

4. Develop Growth plans with leadership strengths and practises in mind. 

Leading Companies like Google, Microsoft, Accenture and Deloitte understand that the people development continuum needs to be revolutionized to help people be their best at work and life. We suggest performance appraisals include a leadership growth plan. The approach includes real-time, frequent, forward-looking coaching discussions that helps people:

• Understand expectations

• Build on their strengths

• Understand areas for growth

• Achieve their career aspirations

In Conclusion

“With two-thirds of the workforce being Millennials and Gen Z just around the corner, we need to be extremely relevant to our people. When we look at our return on investment, we not only focus on our return to shareholders or return to reinvest back into our business — but also on the return to our people. Putting our people at the center and helping them to achieve their best is part of our talent-led DNA” Google CEO

Business and political leaders must recognize when traditional patterns in management practices, education or gender roles, for example, become roadblocks to workers’ motivation and productivity, and when selectively disrupting tradition will help clear a path to greater prosperity and transformed company cultures. Employers who focus on replacing outdated management processes with ones that enhance workplace cultures and support engagement can drive their percentage of engaged workers much higher than average. This is the journey from good to great!!!

Jim Collins, Good to Great, 2012

Gallup State of the Global workplace, 2017

Gallup Q12® Meta-Analysis Report, 2017

John C Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within, 2017