Massengill challenges industry leaders to pursue greatness

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 10, 2006

WESSON – Hundreds of business executives, college faculty andcity, county and economic leaders crowded Wolf Hall in theCopiah-Lincoln Community College’s Thames Center Thursday duringthe annual Industrial Appreciation Luncheon.

Brookhaven Mayor Bob Massengill was the guest speaker for theevent. He drew on his experience as the former president ofSouthern Wholesale Company, now McLane Southern GroceryDistribution, former president of Trustmark National Bank and as adeveloper and board member of the Bank of Brookhaven to remind thearea leaders that sometimes good just isn’t enough.

“Good is the enemy of great” because it spawns complacency,Massengill said. “Most organizations are satisfied by just beinggood. They settle for being good, not great.”

Massengill said when a company becomes profitable and thebenefits of building the company become obvious, the vision thatdrove its leaders to excel becomes clouded and they becomesatisfied with the profit margin they have.

They quit looking ahead, the mayor said. Not only is thatdangerous for the future of the company, but it stymies the growthof the community that supports the industry.

Massengill used the analogy of a bus load of people to representthe management of a business.

In order to become great, the mayor said, it is not enough toget the right people on the bus, but they must also be sitting inthe right seats. A full bus with people in the wrong seats will notget to its destination as efficiently as a bus with the driver inthe driver’s seat.

Business leaders must also be able to “maintain unwavering faiththat you will prevail in the end,” Massengill said. “You’ve got tohave the discipline to confront the most brutal fact of where youare now.”

Honesty to themselves in their current situation and how thatrelates to their future goals is the only way to rise up to meetthose goals, he said.

Studies have also shown that leaders of the “great” companieshave no air of self-importance and place the goals of the companiesabove their own ambitions, Massengill said. They take no credit insuccesses and all blame in failure. They recognize the achievementsof the employees under them.

“They channeled their egos away from themselves into the largergoal of advancing the company,” the mayor said.

Massengill said it takes time to make changes because mostpeople are not receptive to it, but the end is usually worth thetrip.