Beware of MORE Leadership

I was once asked during start-up of my own business what my sales plan was.  I thought for a second about my business plan, the problems that I wanted to solve, the clients I wanted to help – – and then, after a deep breath, I said “MORE”.  MORE is a great start-up word and a great growth word.  I have seen it uttered by 10 month old companies and 25 year old companies.  The last great recession we faced, MORE became a very important word as companies scrambled for cash.

The truth is – At some point, MORE is not enough.

1.  It is not enough when you are faced with a choice: doing work X that gets you excited, in a new industry, but not as profitable vs work Y that is what you do well, feels a little bit boring to your entrepreneurial energies, nurtures/expands your current customer base, and creates a healthy cash flow.  MORE provides no focus, only motion.

2.  It is not enough when your team looks to you, as the leader, for some direction around ‘How did we do?”  When you point to MORE, say thank you, and then head off in your new luxury car that MORE helped you afford – – they begin to see what MORE did for you, and then their part of MORE seems not enough.  Dilbert owes some if its success to MORE leadership.

3.  It is not enough when you are looking at your own succession/future, and the two people that could move into your role and your measure of their ability to understand MORE and follow your lead is the only measure you have.  MORE leaders hire MORE leaders.

4.  It is not enough when you want to sit back for a few months, catch your breath, and enjoy some of the fruits of your MORE labor.  Your team is left wondering when MORE became ENOUGH, and in a few weeks begins to believe ENOUGH is the goal now.  When you re-engage, probably starting with the lecture around accountability and ownership – they get confused, angry, and sometimes bitter.  MORE becomes an irritating word.  MORE erodes TRUST.

4.  No celebrations can be planned around MORE because it is always moving.

5.  When MORE is used as a goal for a career change, it moves you towards increases in the numerical parts of a job, but not necessarily the passion/energy/fit parts.  Inevitably the MORE reasons will move to NOT ENOUGH.

6.  No development plans or talent management activities can be directed by MORE goals.  Are MORE Nicer or MORE Communication real targets?

MORE has its place in circumstances where it is important to push forward through things and speed to opportunities is critical.  It is okay to be in a MORE state, but staying there for long periods of time is not healthy.

More can help you get to BETTER, but it will never get you to BEST.