Is “Good Enough” A Quintessential Leader Standard?

Posted: January 8, 2016 in Quintessential Leadership
Tags: , , , , , ,

Total accuracy and consistent high quality are the quintessential leader standardOur society has gradually lowered its standards and expectations for total accuracy and consistent high quality and it has elevated numbers and speed to the place that accuracy and high quality once held.

As a result, the expectation and standard for performance, outcomes, and things has become “good enough.”

The expectation and standard of “good enough” has permeated every corner of our lives, including our organizations, our teams, our families, and even us personally, if we have not resisted going with the flow and following the crowd.

We accept “good enough” as consumers, expecting things we buy to be cheaply and quickly manufactured and expecting that we will have to repair or replace them within a relatively short time frame.

We, increasingly, have come to accept our giving and our receiving of “good enough” in every strata of our work lives and in every strata of our private lives.

Built into “good enough” is an “acceptable margin of error.” What this means is that we have decided that imperfection is okay and that we expect it within a quantifiable range. We are willing to live – both being the cause of and having to deal with – with mistakes, screw-ups, and sloppiness in our everyday lives because it’s become the norm.

If we’ve adopted the “good enough” standard as how we do life, then we’ve settled for stagnation, mediocrity, and, eventually, failure.

Although “good enough” may get us through the short-term, when our standards are any less than total accuracy and consistent high-quality all the time, then over time our standards for “good enough” and “acceptable margins of error” will get lower and lower until anything goes and we don’t even care anymore.

Here’s the interesting thing about those of us who have accepted “good enough” and “acceptable margins of error” as our standard operating procedure in life. Although this what we do, there are still some places where we expect total accuracy and high quality.

For example, we expect total accuracy and high quality from medical professionals. This is why malpractice insurance is very expensive. What if a surgeon said to you or a loved one that they expected the surgery to be “good enough” with an “acceptable margin of error?”

We also expect total accuracy and high quality from the people who handle our money: the payroll people at work, the banks, and the accountants who handle our taxes? What if each of these told you that they were doing a “good enough” job of taking care of your money with an “acceptable margin of error?”

If we expect these groups of professionals to be totally accurate and produce high-quality results, then, why should we settle for a different standard for ourselves?

Good enough and acceptable margins of error are not part of quintessential leaders' standardsQuintessential leaders don’t. “Good enough” is not a trait that you will ever see in a quintessential leader.

You will also never hear a quintessential leader talk about an “acceptable margin of error.”

The reality is that as humans we all make errors, but for quintessential leaders it is not acceptable to let errors remain errors. We do everything to the very best of our ability and when we make errors, we correct them.

Doing things right and well the first time takes more time. But the result will bring long-term success and will build trust and trustworthiness.

In other words, quintessential leaders can’t afford to accept “good enough” and “acceptable margins of error” because they realize that this becomes a way of thinking and believing that will affect every part of their lives and will destroy their character on every front of their lives.

Have we allowed ourselves to accept and adopt the “good enough” and “acceptable margins of error” standard in a quest for numbers and speed in our lives?

Or or we tenaciously holding onto the quintessential leader standard of total accuracy and consistent high quality?

How are we doing?

  1. I have never liked following the crowd in my entire life. Good enough is not enough. I was a secretary for years and I would strive for perfection. Today as I deal with other clerical personell, I become totally frustrated. I spend so much time trying to figure out how someone I have dealt with can make so many mistakes, cause me additional work, and remain employed. If a person is going to do something – Do It Right The First Time! Like you said, if you make a mistake, correct it as soon as possible. We must be from a different world than most of the people on this earth. Once upon a time a waffle iron, or a coffee pot, etc. was made of high quality metal. Now it is plastic and needs to be replaced in a short period of time. This is simply a disposable world run by those that are trying to make money selling cheap products. As you said, it is only going to get worse. So sad and so discouraging. Very nice post.


  2. […] leadership positions from embracing progress. It is often easier to believe that the status quo is good enough or that it is the finite point of progress than to admit that progress will improve what already […]


  3. […] accept stagnation as an ideal or permanent state of our being, nor do we ever embrace the idea that being good enough is […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s