On the path from good to great

Paul Raggio

By Paul Raggio

Co-owner, One True North

There’s a great quote from Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great,” and the selection has everything to do with mindset. 

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” 

We make a choice. We’re comfortable with our mindset. We often talk ourselves into pulling back, curtailing our effort and stopping by rationalizing, “I’m satisfied.” We tell others, no need to make an effort or investment. Let’s settle. For now, this is good enough! Well, good is not great, and there’s no easy way to be great without changing your mindset.

Lisa and I spoke to May’s monthly Business Alliance hosted by Jeffery Forrest, vice president of economic and workforce development at the College of the Canyons. The topic was “Leading in a Post-COVID World.” Our response was you’ve got to change your mental framework. Recognize how we engage people, communicate, our work environment, our business model has changed. Even our systems, processes and procedures require tweaking and, in some cases, wholesale change. However, our values, leadership principles, management skills, the nature of business, strategic thinking and execution planning remain the same. 

Right now, we’re in another transition period. COVID hasn’t ended, yet we’re slowly opening businesses and contemplating how to return employees to work. We continue to deal with COVID, and its presence still impacts businesses. 

New normalcy will emerge when COVID is past tense and we’ve adapted to a novel way of operating. That’s several months, if not another year away. We often say, get comfortable being uncomfortable. Focus on your WHY, your purpose and map out a vision, mission and points of culture that will propel you from good to great.

Vision is leadership-centric. Leading means influencing the behaviors of others. To do that, build relationships with followers, which means you have to have an emotional connection with them, and them to you. 

You provide that connection when you articulate your vision. And your vision must be future-oriented, directional, inspirational, aspirational, affirmational and address your WHY and the purpose of your organization. If you do this, you’ll emotionally connect with your constituencies, drive growth and be on the path from good to great. 

The mission is management-centric and present-day oriented. The mission addresses how and what we do as an organization, and our managers balance people and processes to achieve the highest level of productivity. 

About 80% of all activities in your organization are transactional. They can easily be systemized from culling through your email inbox to how you recruit and onboard a new hire, schedule and run your monthly meetings and administer your accounts receivables and payables. Managers adjust workflow based on key performance indicators, resource consumption, risk mitigation and quality assurance standards. The mission is the organization’s focal point and must be understood internally and externally by its constituencies. Suppose you, as the leader, articulate this. In that case, your managers will effectively and efficiently balance your people and processes and create systems that drive productivity. Your organization will be on the path from good to great.

Points of culture are the rules your organization plays by. They address acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and represent your values and those of the team, customers, and stakeholders invested in your business. With them, harmony exists; without them, chaos ensues. Your continuous expression of values reinforces the emotional connection with your followers, promotes loyalty and engagement to the vision and organizational growth, rigor, and compliance to the mission, and optimizes productivity. Publish and adhere to them, and your organization will be on the path from good to great.

Going from good to great requires you to change your mindset. Satisfaction with just achieving enough won’t get you there. Think bolder, bigger and better, and commit to stepping into the arena with both feet. Influence the behaviors of others by emotionally connecting with them. Articulate a directional, inspirational, aspirational, affirmational and future-oriented vision, and a focused and understood mission and the play-by rules of the organization. This is how you lead, think, plan and act and move your organization from good to great. It’s all about your mental framework!

Now, let’s get after it. 

Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions.

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