Organisational Greatness or Mediocrity?

Organisational Greatness or Mediocrity?

By Caryn Walsh

CEO, Business Strategist, Executive Coach, Psychologist

Pure Magic International Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd

Specialists in Leadership, People and Organisational Development

Winner of the Australian Institute of Training and Development’s (AITD) 2014 Highly Commended Award for Organisational Effectiveness


The days of micro-managing people are well and truly over.  Telling them what to do, when to do it and how to perform in their roles is a thing of the past if you want to have an Organisation that oozes collaboration and co-operation. And is successful and profitable.

Think about the evolution of Organisations over the years.  Initially businesses were largely land-owners, often dictators. They ‘owned’ their people – serfs, slaves, even women.  The Machine Era (circa 1800’s) later welcomed in the Industrial Age, which has heralded the creation of jobs, paid work and the introduction of officially paid ‘employees.’

The Industrial Era of control and micro-management

Whilst financial success is enjoyed by some businesses and people are employed, the Industrial Era (in which we live today) is also characterised by people being controlled, creative thinking is not routinely encouraged at work and people are often told what, when and how, to do their jobs. Empowerment is not always part of Organisational language!

Many people are still controlled at work, micro-managed and motivated by the ‘carrot at the end of the stick’ policy.  And it does not work.

By controlling people tightly and telling them what to do, all inspiration, growth and the opportunity for individual and Organisational transformation is removed. You cannot get the best from your people this way.

Things are controlled, people are empowered

According to Steven Covey, an American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker, ‘the problem with most organisations is that they are under-led and over-managed.  It’s important to realise that things are managed and controlled, but people are led and empowered.  It is a common misconception that there are only a few people in this world who are the leaders and the rest are to be led.’


Institutionalised moral authority

Most Organisations believe there is a right or wrong way of doing something.  Or a way that is more or less correct.  What about the moral fibre of an Organisation?

This is the way in which an Organisation treats people, its stake-holders, its competitors and the community within which it operates.  Some Organisations value high morality, such as honesty, kindness and compassion.

Other Organisations, such as organised crime syndicates, appear to have no moral aspirations.  They make money and harm people in the process of having their demands met. They control their people, the market, their distributors and their customers.  Cross them, and loss of life is the most frequent outcome. Some may argue they are a business that makes money, but at what price?

Covey describes institutionalised moral authority as:

An Organisations ability to consistently produce quality trusting relationships with various stakeholders, as well as having a continued focus on efficiency, speed, flexibility and market friendliness.

Is the moral fibre of your Organisation one of creative thinking and empowering your people (Greatness) or does it focus on micro-managing, controlling others and getting the best out of your people and resources at all costs (Mediocrity?)

What happens in the Sea of Mediocrity?

People don’t feel valued, tasks are not completed on time or they are poorly done. These Organisations are filled with ego-centric leaders who are concerned with getting their own needs met and not focusing on team outcomes.

Due to numerous reasons, there is an over 80% failure rate in start-up or small businesses. These include lack of experience, not paying attention to employee’s needs, competition, and failure to deliver a superior product or service. In time, mediocrity means going out of business!

So what is the answer?

Banish Mediocrity and pursue Greatness!

Pay attention to everything around you!  Become the best example of inspiration and greatness you can be, regardless of where you sit in an Organisation.

More than 90 percent of all Organisational challenges are systematic, commencing with leadership – at all levels.  Leaders throughout the entire Organisation are responsible for the overall ‘feel’ of their Organisation, the people in it, the rules according to which they behave, the methodology of producing and distributing a service or product and the way in which it is perceived by competitors and other stake-holders.  Leadership can be a large, lonely role.

Greatness is about self-mastery.  Doing the best possible job you can and being the best person you can be, in everything you do. Even if you are not in a leadership role, you can make a positive impact on your teams, your customers and your Organisation all of the time.

A way forward

  • Consistently work towards self-mastery
  • Get your Organisation’s Vision and Values right.  What do you stand for and where are you going?
  • Align everything in your Organisation, including its structures, policies, procedures, people and systems to the Vision and Values
  • Banish the ‘ego trip’ from your team, department or Organisation.  Ego is about a person. It advocates the scarcity, competitive approach. Teamwork is about abundance – it is about a group of people working together, in a collaborative and supportive way to reach mutually agreed upon goals
  • Real change occurs at any level within an organisation.  Train your leaders down the line to have a ‘can do’ attitude and empower their people, but start at the top
  • Encourage everybody in the Organisation to be optimistic, praise pro-activity and positivism and become inspiring  to each other
  • An organisation led by competent, positive and creative leaders becomes the Company where people want to work.  Become the change you would like to see
  • Banish cultures of fear and blame and vigorously advocate collaboration and co-operation
  • Demand and expect excellence from everybody – including yourself
  • Let your competitors struggle to reach mediocrity if that’s what they are after.  You focus on excellence, all the time
  • Become an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity. These Organisations outperform competitors time and time and time again

The psychology of happy people

In a previous article I wrote about the psychology of happy people and how they are more productive and thus enable the Organisations in which they work to thrive.  International research has repeatedly indicated that people who are treated well and made to feel as if they are valued, given the chance to try different ways of working and who are encouraged to think creatively about problems in their roles – and praised for their efforts – will thrive.

‘As an organisation you can have the most modern machinery, the most sophisticated systems, the latest procedures and policies, but if you have all of that and experience ongoing people problems, you are in danger of losing it all.  Finding and retaining human capital is the greatest challenge of businesses today and yet for many Organisations it is often the area of least priority.’ explains Covey.


Start becoming the creative force in your own life and in your Organisation.

Empower your people by entrusting and helping them to grow and ultimately, transform their roles and your Organisation.

We can all contribute to change in this world.  We can run successful businesses that are profitable, where people are happy and productive, where we look after stake-holders and the community in which we operate.

We can be a strong force in the life of another person, we can contribute to a worthy cause or help people in need.  We can make an impact on the lives of the less fortunate and help those who struggle.

We can choose greatness in our Organisations and ultimately in everything we do.
Do you?


Name Change:  On July 1 2015 Pure Magic International Training Solutions changed its name to Pure Magic International Business Solutions to more accurately reflect what services it offers.

Share This Post