In my career I've been exposed to a lot of them. I own and cultivate one myself, but I think being aware of it tempers it somewhat.
It takes a pretty big ego to be a pilot, thinking your skills are good enough to take the lives of others in your hands.
It also takes a bit of ego to Blog, hoping someone will read your stuff, then agree or disagree strongly enough to punch that comment button and respond. A really big ego can cause problems when those comments are negative!
I think people in general are of the opinion that military officers have some of the biggest egos in the world. As a retired Army Officer I'm not an objective judge, so I won't approach that discussion. But I will tell you, I've met supervisors in my civilian life that could go head-to-head with most of the egos I dealt with before I retired from the military.
The title of my post today refers to an essay posted on the wall behind the desk of one of my last military bosses. He looked enough like H.R. Haldeman, the guy in the picture above, to be his twin brother. Same haircut. Same behavior.........
Ego the size of the Astrodome.
The essay was centered behind his desk, with its title in letters big enough to be read the instant you walked into his office that said, "Beware of Good Enough!"
The essay warned that if you were satisfied with "good enough", you'd be buried by competitors that weren't satisfied with just good enough.
The essay was thought-provoking.
My initial reaction was, "Why isn't good enough, good enough?"
I hated working for this man. He was a first-class jerk. The essay posted on his wall said everything you need to know about him.
A couple years ago, I read a basic engineering book on "How things work".
The book went into detail about several common, everyday things most people work with daily, starting with paper clips, working its way through beverage cans, fax machines, and bridges. It went into great detail about engineering details, how the design of things evolve as cheaper, more efficient ways are found to do the job. But it also discussed how over-engineering something, (making it more than "good enough"), would result in it weighing too much, or being wasteful of resources and not economically competitive in its market.
I immediately thought of my old boss and wanted to mail him the book!
The phrase "Good Enough" pretty much says it all, doesn't it?
As an example, if you are in the market for a quality automobile, you won't go shopping at your local Yugo dealership....... a Yugo isn't "good enough" for you.
But if you are searching for reliable, economical transportation.....
something that won't cost a fortune to insure and maintain.......
there are literally dozens of automobiles you'll need to consider before making your purchase. They meet your needs and are "good enough."
(But does it come in Fuschia?)
But let's get back to my old boss and his attitude-
What was he telling those of us that worked for him, putting that essay in such a prominent place? From the little I've said about him, you obviously can't judge his character. But I'll tell you this- I thought he was a poor leader. I think he wanted his subordinates to fear him.
And although he always accomplished his mission, I believe those of us that worked for him, seeing him broken down along the road, would have looked the other way as we drove by.
I've been a manager of one thing or another for over 40 years. I've studied the leadership techniques of a lot of people during that time, and I've learned a little something from most of them. I tend to agree with the old saying that "you draw more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."
Here's the leadership style I personally find most effective. See if you agree, or have anything to add:
-Don't ask others to do something you wouldn't do.
-Share as much of the "Why something needs to be done this way" as you can, and be open to suggestions about getting the job done more efficiently.
-Lead in such a way that employees want to do what you ask.
-Use negative reinforcement only as a last resort. When you have to lead negatively, try to find out why positive reinforcing techniques aren't getting the job done.
-Praise all involved for a job well done.
-Share "attaboys" when they are given.
And always be aware that when something is "good enough", it is good enough!
An employee that does work that is good enough is worthy of praise.
Not realizing that may result in that employee moving on, being replaced with someone that does substandard work.
Just make certain you know what is "Good Enough" before you start the job!