Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Is Good Enough, Good Enough?

What is the difference between good enough and excellent? The immediate response to this question by most executives would be that we must always strive for excellence, but is it that clear-cut?

There are many business books that emphasize the importance of excellence, of doing our best at all times. One example of this is a book we just summarized by Brian Tracy called Full Engagement. In this book Tracy states “Studies have shown that on average, employees are working at only a fraction of their potential. What are managers to do? How can they inspire their people to perform at their absolute best?” He then provides the “secrets” to unlocking superstar performance.

But a new book to be released in October provides a different perspective. Written by Aaron Nurick, The Good Enough Manager takes a unique approach to bringing out the best in employees.  The concept of the Good Enough Manager, or GEM, is based on the psychological theory of the good enough mother who provides an environment where an infant learns to develop an autonomous and genuine self.

Just as there is no such thing as a perfect parent, managing people in organizations is an inherently human and fallible endeavor, mainly because managing occurs by and through human relationships. So rather than looking for ways to drive employees to excellence, Nurick is suggesting that managers provide the environment for them to thrive, and to develop their own unique abilities.

The end result may be the same, but the process is quite different. To borrow another phrase from parenting, should we be “helicopter managers” hovering over our employees’ every move, or provide them with a nurturing environment through mentoring and modeling. Could good enough be the best way to manage?

You might also want to check out a few other titles that bring a different slant to the management process: Leading Outside the Lines by Jon Katzenbach and Zia Kahn and The Hands-Off Manager by Duane Black and Steve Chandler.


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