The Failure of “Good-Enough” Cultures

The Failure of “Good-Enough” Cultures

Billions of dollars are wasted each year by companies who compromise on standards. Many leaders endanger themselves and their organizations by permitting a “good-enough culture.” This danger of mediocrity fortunately has a remedy. “Only the mediocre are always at their best.” ~ Jean Giraudoux, French essayist The good-enough culture plagues an organization in every aspect of its operation, all the way down to the most basic. Some of the more prominent effects are: Lack of productivity Staff turnover Defective products Warranty costs Safety costs Inefficiency and waste Dissatisfied customers Lost sales Layoffs Shrinking profits Poor reputation Leaders experience many more unseen problems buried down under the details of every department. The issues feed on themselves if not corrected. Growing the Good-Enough Culture The good-enough culture flows down from the top of the organization. It takes root when leaders believe that a good-enough approach is acceptable. Typically, leaders who have the impression that life for them is rewarding enough don’t see the need to work to make things better for everyone else. Leaders with a self-focused mindset have one or more of the following issues: Apathy: There is no real concern for what the others in the organization endure. Laziness: There is no felt need to give more than an adequate effort. Adequate often seems heroic to the lazy mind. Disengagement: There is not enough involvement with staff or specific operations to know that troubles exist. Worse yet, the leader intentionally avoids knowledge of problems. Greed: There is less monetary reward for the upper echelon if more resources are spent on addressing system shortcomings. This is the age-old deception of...
Brain-Friendly Steps to Make Change Stick

Brain-Friendly Steps to Make Change Stick

When’s the last time you promised yourself to make some changes, either break or make a new habit? And how long did your changes last? Changing habits can be one of the hardest things to do. Once we decide to lose weight, quit smoking, get fit, or do anything differently, it takes a lot of effort and persistence before we can claim success. Anyone who tells you it only takes 30 days to acquire a new habit doesn’t know human nature. Most people who’ve been successful at making major lifestyle changes report that it rarely comes as steadily upward progress. Instead, it’s often two steps forward and one back, with intermittent relapses, surges of resolve, and a lot of learning along the way. One has only to look at the obesity problem in the US and other affluent countries to see how hard it is to make behavioral changes that stick. Despite growing evidence that being overweight contributes to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature aging, people struggle to lose weight, start exercising, and eat healthy. The obesity rates aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse. And yet we know more about how to make or break habits than ever before. Behavioral scientists have conducted extensive research into how people make lasting changes. Why aren’t more people successful? Knowing Isn’t Enough “If you want to make a change you need to know why you’re making the change―but for that change to really last you need more than knowledge. When it comes to change, our minds don’t work rationally.” ~ The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer,...
The Dangers of Ego in Leadership

The Dangers of Ego in Leadership

“Ego is the invisible line item on every company’s profit and loss statement.” —David Marcum and Steven Smith in egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability), Fireside, 2007 Nothing can be more debilitating in an organization than a leader with an ego. If you work for a leader driven by ego, your ability to cope can be pushed to the limit. In organizations, leaders with out-of-control egos are responsible for huge losses in productivity and profits. In today’s culture that promotes self-worth and self-focus, egotism appears to be a growing trend that often gets rewarded. However, outsized egos are behind the struggle organizations have in keeping good people, doing the right thing, earning the trust of customers, and enjoying long-term prosperity. Egotism is easy to spot, but its effects are hard to understand, and solutions are challenging. A definition of an egotist is someone focused on themselves with little regard for others. Egotists have an unhealthy belief in their own importance. Author Ryan Holiday, in his book, Ego Is The Enemy (Penguin, 2016), defines ego as a sense of superiority and certainty that exceeds the bounds of confidence and talent.  Ego is what drives many leaders to excel in their fields, but it leaves them (and their organizations) vulnerable to failure. In a world of ambition with high rewards for success, big egos seem to come with the territory. But for effective leaders who want to build sustainable success, ego is the inner enemy. The Inner Struggles of Leaders with Big Egos For any leader, the risks of big ego are magnified. An inflated perception...