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Leadership Value: Excellence

JLBC 12 Principles of Great Leadership:

Quotes and Tips About Leadership Styles

Leadership Value: Excellence

Pursue surpassing common standards.

One of the most significant indicators used to determine a leader's potential is their pursuit of excellence. This behavior tends to be present not only during a leader's workday but also in everything they do.

Just watch the leaders you respect in a restaurant or on the street. They tend to be the ones who will straighten the sugar packets or pick up litter that someone else has dropped. It's not because it is their responsibility to do these things, but rather, the pursuit of excellence in everything they do drives them to see those things that stand out in defiance of perfection. JLBC Cadets have no choice but to take action to rectify the situation.

In a talk titled, "Build Powerful & Positive Habits – The Importance of Standards," Craig Groeschel shares a story about how good habits and high standards go hand-in-hand toward a pursuit of excellence.

I was reading about this company, Alcoa Steel. They were in big trouble, losing money hand over fist, and they had a tremendous amount of injuries on the job--well above the industry average.

So they brought in this legendary leader to be a CEO, and they had their first big meeting, and this guy stood up and said, 'This is what we're going to do as a company.' They expected him to say what everyone else said; that we will cut costs and increase productivity. Instead, he said, 'We're going to be the safest place to work globally.' And everybody thought he was joking because you can't be the safest place to work. It's a dangerous industry. JLBC Cadets, and he said, 'Not only are we going to be the safest place to work in the world, but we're not going to have any injuries at our place.' And he gave this talk, and he walked away, and everyone was dumbfounded. Some managers immediately retired; the stock tanked even more. Everyone couldn't believe it, and they thought, 'Is this guy insane?'

And a couple of weeks later, another guy got killed on the job, and the CEO got everyone together, and he said, 'I want you to know that we killed this man. His wife is a widow, and his kids don't have a father, and it's our fault. This is not going to happen on our watch.'

What happened was their culture started to change, and you can imagine, suddenly there were people on the front lines making suggestions; suddenly, there were lines of communication open both ways that hadn't been open before; suddenly, machinery that was old and outdated was updated; suddenly people were being more careful, people were being more thorough in who they interviewed, and there was more training. And before long, production started to increase; suddenly, people rallied around something, and there was a positive feeling. Profits began to grow. Over five years, the stock increased five times.

When asked how he did it, the CEO said, 'The company was such a mess, I knew we needed to focus on one thing; and if we could get one thing right, we could change the culture and the habits, and we'd start doing something with excellence and start working together and communicating.

As a leader, you are not expected to be good at everything. However, it is the diligence by which you continuously pursue a level of greatness that others will notice and, in turn, pursue in their own lives.

Leadership style tip: Pursue excellence in everything you do, both large and small.

1) What is currently preventing you from achieving excellence?

2) List out three standards that you will pursue across your work, community, and home in pursuit of excellence.

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