“Good” is No Longer Good Enough

We live in a very fast moving world now.  Employee and team loyalty is won and lost in hours or minutes.  And customer loyalty (or disgruntlement) is created even faster.  This new environment requires a different leader type who can respond in a genuine way to get people to follow them.

A few weeks ago during Buzz 2010 I came to the realization that many of the principles Charline Li was talking about with Open Leadership (her latest book) were similar to the principles of “Level 5 Leadership” that Jim Collins outlined in his book Good to Great.

Good to Great has had a profound effect on me.  At the time I read it I realized that the reason my company was doing so well was because it was following so many of the principles of the book – and it was led at the top by “Level 5 Leaders”.  In many ways it formed the basis of my management style as I realized the emotional benefits of becoming such a leader.

  • Level 5 leaders build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
  • Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.

Now as I work my way through Li’s Open Leadership I see more and more elements of what she describes that are fueled by this leadership approach:

  • Explaining: Creating Buy In – This isn’t a top down approach that many managers try to push.  It’s working with staff at all levels to get buy in and move forward as a team.
  • Conversing: Improving Operations – Li describes putting the community to work and funneling those efforts back into improving the operations.  As a leader, it’s realizing you might not always be the one with the best ideas and looking for help and support from wherever you find it.
  • Crowdsourcing: Solving a specific problem together – This is the ultimate setting aside of your ego as you open up to take help from large numbers of people.  But it’s all for the same goal – to make the company/product better.

See the parallels?  “Humility” and getting buy in at all levels. Focusing on the larger goal of building a great company and being willing to take in work/ideas from outside the company.

Ok, so maybe you’ve followed me as I’ve connected the dots between the two books and are ready to rush out and buy them (a good idea).  But now you’re thinking to yourself “Hey, what’s the point of this post?”

Good is no longer good enough.  Leaders now need to be Great!

The best and fastest moving organizations are embracing openness as they respond to the saturation of social technologies that are changing our business practices.  They are opening up and looking for leaders at all levels.

When Collins wrote “Good to Great” in 2001 the social web didn’t exist.  A company could be good in their self-contained universe and still make good money. It was the great companies that rose above that and generated amazing results.

Fast-forward to 2010 and you have companies starting up all over the place as technology has become more affordable and time to market has gotten increasingly shorter.  A new market emerges and without looking twice, a competitor pops up.  Customers give feedback in real time and reputations are made or lost with the post of a tweet or click of a mouse.  We now have “fans” of our companies and organizations who engage on an ongoing basis rather than buying the product/service every now and then.

As Li points out, this type of dynamic marketplace and environment requires a new type of leader.  And as you draw the parallels from Collins – these companies need great leaders.  “Good” is no longer good enough.

As you work with others throughout your organizations, mange your teams and interact with customers, I challenge you to rise above “good” and become “great”.  Your organization, staff and customers will thank you.  And as a result, you’ll see greatness for your company – and yourself.

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