What I’ve learnt: good is the enemy of great

Naturally, most leaders have a drive to be better. It’s normal to want to be a good leader – after all, everyone wants to know they’re good at their job – but is your idea of ‘good’ getting in the way of you being a great leader?

Great leaders are those who raise the bar and make good teams even better by leading through example. They’re the leaders that see conflict and disagreement as a good things, rather than setbacks and they encourage in-depth, robust thinking within their teams.

So, what is stopping ‘good’ leaders from becoming great leaders?

In a leadership position, it can be tempting to do things your own way and ignore all the other factors – I’ve seen too many leaders never fulfil their potential because they were too focused on doing things their way. There are three big things I’ve seen in ‘good’ leaders, but not in great leaders.

  • Good leaders are often too interested in themselves and what looks good to them; instead of spending time supporting and building up their team, they stay focused on their own position and how decisions affect them.
  • Many leaders spend too much time and energy managing upwards, rather than focusing on their team and helping their team to perform at their best, letting great results speak for the leadership provided.
  • Operationally, good leaders are excellent – they make things happen when they should but they’re not in touch with their emotional intelligence and they have low levels of social and self-awareness.

What happens when a leader moves from being ‘good’ to great?

When a leader focuses their efforts on becoming great, rather than simply settling for good, by far the biggest beneficiary is their team.

When they’re being led by a great leader who unites them towards a vision and goal, the team have high levels of morale as well as engagement. Knowing their leader has their back, the team don’t fear mistakes and are willing to go the extra mile and try new things in order to drive the whole team to success.

As a direct result of a leader’s greatness, individuals in teams are more loyal to the organisation, to the leader and to their team. They are also high-performing, improving on their service and support to customers – greatness is contagious, after all; teams with great leaders will have great performance.

How can you know if you are a great leader?

It can be hard to identify if you’re just a ‘good’ leader rather than a great one. There are, however, a few questions you can ask yourself to know whether you’re a great leader or whether your greatness is being stifled by being ‘good enough’.

  • Is the vision and plan for your organisation well-communicated and understood by all your team members?
  • How much time are you spending each day leading vs. doing?
  • How often are you recognising and rewarding great performance?
  • Are you asking tough questions and having tough conversations with your team?
  • Are you ‘calling it’ when team or individual behaviour is inappropriate?

The answers to these questions can help you to uncover some problems in your leadership and identify areas in which you may need to focus your energy to become a great leader and lead your team to success.

If you’re ready to be a great leader, People Make the Difference can help you with short, online videos, resources and one-to-one training to benefit your leadership. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Our online leadership training videos start from $99 for the year, with new resources added quarterly.