“There are 20 insights presented in this book. The following chapters present further analysis of these ideas.
Insight 1. Great leaders make a huge difference, when compared to merely good leaders.
We have known for some time that huge differences exist between top performers and average performers in any job category. One meta-analysis (a synthesis of some 80 well conducted studies on productivity) showed that for high-level jobs (and leaders certainly fit that category) the productivity difference between the top person out of 100 and the great majority is huge. For example, the top person performing high-complexity jobs is 127 percent more productive than the mean average person, and infinite more productive that the 100th person in that curve. The researchers said “infinitely” because the number was so large that it would be lacking precision to say anything other than ‘infinite.’
Insight 2. One organization can have many great leaders.
Being a great leader can be defined by selecting the top 5 or 10 percent from any distribution, but this is artificial. It was done for the sake of ease and objectivity in our research. However, greatness should ultimately be defined against a standard rather than merely comparing people against each other. There is no reason why half the leaders in an organization could not be great if they were developed properly. Better still, why not all? Great leadership is not a competitive activity in which one person’s success detracts from another’s success.
Insight 3. We have been aiming too low in our leadership development activities.
We contend that one of the major failings in leadership development programs has been the tendency to aim low. Michelangelo said, ‘the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it’
We have often set the target as ‘getting a little bit better.’ We have not set our sight on getting people to become outstanding leaders. The more great leaders an organization develops, the more it will become an outstanding organization. There is no reason to accept mediocrity in leadership any more than in software programming, customer service, or selling.
Insight 2 hits on a major problem in organizations; comparing employees against each other. When it was done to me it left a “bad taste in my mouth” especially when the response was something similar to, “well, you make more money’; when I realized the boss didn’t do their homework, or demonstrated their lack of interest. Such behavior is demeaning and lowers morale.
Setting standards sets the definition for levels of success, and the needed development to reach those levels.
Insight 3 is a serious problem in that mediocrity is the easy way out, and considered “good enough”. Organization boards carry much of the blame.
Finally, why is poor leadership accepted when it has a negative effect on customer service, selling, morale, trust, and ?
Next: The Extraordinary Leader
Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders
AN OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT IDEAS IN THIS BOOK