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Make Excellence Your New Average

Think about organizations like Zappos or Nordstrom, and, as a consumer, you think about “excellence” in customer service.  As a leader, if you consider how they achieve that level of excellence, you know they also focus on excellence in systems, processes and people.

Excellence is in the details of how people organize, work together, and execute. What are some of the hallmarks of excellence in your workplace? As a leader, are you clear about your standards for excellence in performance? How are you modeling excellence? Once you identify how to make excellence your standard at work, then you’ll be able not only to meet but exceed expectations and experience less resistance and drama in the workplace.

Every workplace is different, but there are some universal attributes of excellence:

  1. Be on Time:  Simple but true.  Punctuality shows that you are organized and responsible; that you have respect for other people and their time, and that you value reliability.
  2. Personal Accountability:  Hold yourself accountable and no one else will have to. Taking responsibility for your work and actions shows integrity and professionalism and will garner you respect from your peers and employer.
  3. Embrace the Team: “That’s not my job” shouldn’t even cross your mind and should be non-negotiable with your team.  Employers need team members who can step up and do what needs to be done regardless of whether it fits into the job description.
  4. Engage in Productive Conflict: Only dictators want “yes“ men or women.  A smart leader will value an employee who asks questions and brings critical issues to the team for debate. Excellence isn’t a synonym for compliance. Be willing to coach, redirect, and support open, honest dialogue in the spirit of attaining your vision.
  5. Positive Mood: All things being equal, people prefer to deal with happy people versus grouchy people. Smiling and keeping your language and outlook positive lowers your stress levels and the stress of those around you. Try smiling when you are angry. Your mood will shift  – it’s physiological.

Excellence doesn’t mean perfection. It means setting a standard and creating a vision for a high level of achievement that engages employees in showing up, learning and reaching for their best each and every day.  Do you know your standards? Write them down and revisit them until you are clear. Then share your standards with your team and discuss them so each person is clear about your expectations of excellence. Learn what they believe about excellence.  And spend time rewarding the achievement of excellence to emphasize what’s working. 

If there are habits and beliefs that get in your way of setting a high bar for you and your team, executive coaching may help you figure out how to remove barriers and accelerate your learning and development. If your average is excellence, what’s possible for your future?