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In Leadership, Good Enough Is Pretty Bad

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

The price of greatness is responsibility. - Winston Churchill

The first time I meet a leader to decide if we should work together, I invariably ask one question. The answer to that question gives me an idea of whether we will have a productive relationship. The solution also tells me how the career of that leader might turn out.

I ask, "Are you satisfied with the results you're getting now?"

It is a simple enough question, yet it points to world differences between leaders. Because if the answer is "yes," then our meeting will be brief. We will quickly go our separate ways. My leadership methods cannot help a satisfied leader, a leader who lives by "good enough."  Those methods can only help if that leader has a powerful dissatisfaction with the results he is getting now.

To understand this, let us go back to basics: Leaders do nothing more important than getting results. You will not be leading for long if you cannot get results. Somebody who can get results is always waiting in line to take your place. If "good enough" is okay with you, you are the next best thing to somebody who cannot or will not get needed results. So, "good enough" is your enemy, "powerful dissatisfaction" your benefactor.

I am not saying you should go around in a funk, powerfully dissatisfied with everything and everyone. You would be a royal pain. Results should be seen not as an end in and of themselves but as part of a natural process to get more. Strong dissatisfaction does not have to be a downer. It can be a joy - the opportunity and privilege of thinking and acting anew. To be powerfully dissatisfied, one must be relaxed, open, caring, and humble. Banishing "good enough" and embracing "powerful dissatisfaction" becomes a profoundly enriching way of being a leader and living one's life. 

So, take a joyful, powerful dissatisfaction into your leadership activities and see the difference it makes in your interactions with others and results.

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