“One of the small, barely noticeable philosophies that most people hold today is binary (something having two parts) thinking about good versus bad. We are constantly amused that when trying to uncover problems in organizations, there is a search to identify the ‘bad people.’ One of the most common tendencies is that when a mistake occurs in an organization and there is a search for the cause, frequently a person or group is sought to be the source of the problem. The ‘fall person’ is blamed for everything. This is rarely the truth (that it is one person), but most people find it much more convenient.
On the other side, we have the search for ‘good.’ Having conducted a variety of studies to identify characteristics of high performers, what inevitably becomes a difficult task is to determine the criteria for identifying high performers. This would appear to be a simple task, but as the different measurements are laid out it becomes a challenge. Organizations search for some simple criteria to easily and quickly pinpoint the good from the bad.
In this chapter we have presented a new philosophy about leadership. The philosophy expands a person’s thinking from ‘Leaders are either good or bad’ to ‘Leaders are bad, good, and great.’ This is a small change from what many currently believe, but we believe this small philosophical difference can have a huge impact on the success of both individuals and organizations.
For individuals this philosophy should help good leaders understand that good is not great. It never was and never will be. Good is good, but the ultimate target is extraordinary leadership. We hope this helps people not to be satisfied with good performance.
For organizations this philosophy ought to clarify the competitive advantage of great leadership. When discussing their leadership talent, executives will sometimes state, ‘I don’t think we have a problem with our leaders’ (which translated means, we don’t have bad leaders). The problem is not an abundance of bad leaders, the problem is the universal acceptance of good leaders, and assuming that they cannot be any better.”
Two comments. One, it usually is not one person who causes the problem, it is processes, processes that don’t work. One company I worked for always wanted to “pin” their problems on “somebody” when it was processes that no one took the time to fix.
Two, bad “leaders” were rarely trained up, and remained in their jobs much longer than they should have. The result? Employees developed bad attitudes, and responded with disgust, poor work habits, and disdain (contempt, unworthy of respect) for those in “suits”.
Next: The Extraordinary Leader
Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders
MAKING A LEADER