As leaders, one of the most important roles you play is the role of “Setter of the Standard of Performance.” In the rush and hurry of life and business, this role can appear to take a back seat. The scary thing is that it never takes a back seat because people are watching you all the time. Your standard of performance, whether high or low, is already being communicated to those on your team, or in your family, or your community.
"You must do the things today that others will not do so that you can have the things tomorrow that others will not have."
What Exactly is a Higher Standard?
When I say “higher standard” what I am talking about is:
- Your expectations around how we do work.
- Your expectations about acceptable behavior
- Your expectations about how we work together
- Your expectations about how we communicate with each other
- Your expectations about doing the small, daily disciplines that move us toward the desired outcomes we seek
"High expectations are the key to everything."
Sam Walton, Wal-Mart Founder
The 5-Step Approach for Setting a Higher Standard
To call your team to a higher standard, here is what must happen:
1. Hold yourself to a higher standard – you really can’t ask others to act in a way that you are not demonstrating to them in your own life. I heard my wife tell one of our children once that dad expects a lot, but never more than he is willing to do himself. Your team is watching, what will they see?
2. Communicate a vision for where we are going – many times, a family or a business can maintain a standard of performance because they are not sure where they are going. What exactly are we trying to accomplish?
3. Tell the team (family, home, or community) what you expect of them as they do their work – It is easy to think that people know what to do and how to do it. They don’t! Spend some time setting expectations for how we do things around here.
4. Observe your team doing their work – There is no better tool for ensuring that your expectations are being met than to come alongside your teammates as they do their work.
5. Coach to increase performance and potential – Coaching leaders are some of the most successful types of leaders because they invest in the future potential of their teammate by holding them accountable and helping them grow.
Left unattended, many of us will find the easiest and most convenient to get things done. I am all for efficiency, but my personal experience tells me that many times this is not about efficiency, it is about personal comfort, and that produces an undisciplined life. Cutting corners today will compound into negative behaviors over time. Set a higher standard for yourself and others to ensure you continue to grow and improve in all that you do.
"Set higher standards for your performance than anyone around you, and it won't matter whether you have a tough boss or an easy one. It won't matter whether the competition is pushing you hard, because you'll be competing with yourself."
Coach Rick Pitino