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Posts Tagged ‘Excellence’

Please forgive me, faithful readers, for being so late with today’s post. I allowed myself to “unplug” over a long weekend, and didn’t think to take my material with me for today. I apologize! That said, let’s get started with Week Four of Excellence.

Excellence is doing small things in a big way!

If you had the chance to interview successful leaders, any number of them, I’m confident they will tell you they have developed and follow habits, systems, and processes daily, regardless of what they are working on, and excellence is no different.

Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.   ~Booker T Washington

I am reminded of stories of moms and dads who take the time to write personalized notes and slip them into their children’s lunches every day. Very thoughtful! It takes time, energy, and discipline to maintain this kind of schedule five days a week; but any child who has been on the receiving end of this practice will tell you what an enormous difference it makes in their life!

I am reminded of the time I participated in a FranklinCovey workshop called Focus — all about setting priorities and making our time intentionally productive. The facilitator shared that he flew a lot, facilitating classes all around the country. He said that on one particular flight, the Pilot took the time to write a note (on the back of her business cards) to each passenger flying first class, thanking them for choosing that particular airline and trusting her and her crew to get them to their destination safely. He spoke with her about it, because he was very impressed she had taken the time to do it. She explained that she felt blessed to have her job and wanted her passengers to know this. Because during flight we are often on aut0-pilot, she had a lot of time during a flight that she could choose how to spend, and she chose to spend her time connecting with others.

I am reminded of my mother. She was a server in coffee shops for decades. On occasion, she would leave one restaurant and take a job in another. Consistently, her customers followed her from one place to another. Turns out their loyalty was to her, not the restaurant! I was too young at the time to ask any of these people why they followed her, but clearly they valued something she offered…attitude, service…I can only guess, but clearly she was doing something with excellence!

Each of these people put their “signature” on what they did, focusing on excellence. Today, think of ways you can put your personal signature on what you do, by modeling excellence.

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In today’s business climate, competition is fierce; but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. Maintaining the status quo in terms of performance is a sure-fire way for your business to not be in business very long. What do you think will happen to your team or business if you aren’t striving to exceed expectations?

What do you think the outcome would be for you, your team, your organization, your customers, and your competition?

Seems like a simple question, but the implications could be staggering.

Spend some time with this one today and let me know what you come up with.

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Wednesday is work with your team day! Take some time with your team, today, to create a strategy for exceeding your customers’ expectations. Ask each person to share a brief story of a product or service experience that exceeded their expectations. Then, as a team, evaluate current expectations and satisfaction with your product or service.

First, have each person answer this question: What do our customers expect from our product or service?

Then: Are we currently meeting these expectations?

If the answer to the second question is “no,” you will first need to make changes to meet those expectations, before you can exceed them.

Next, gather ideas on how you could exceed your customers’ expectations for your organization or team going forward.

Ask: What could we do to exceed our customers’ expectations?

Then: How will we implement these ideas?

Be realistic, and pick two to three ideas you can begin to implement right away…What will they be?

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Today, let’s consider organizations you believe have exceeded your expectations with products or services. What did they do to impress you?

With that in mind, let’s now spend some time on a self-evaluation. Does your performance consistently go beyond what others expect of you?

On a piece of paper, make two columns. Title the left column: Top Five Responsibilities. Title the right column: Rating

Now, list your top five responsibilities in the left column — and you can do this for all the various roles you play…Leader, direct report, peer, mentor, coach, partner, or even roles you play in your personal life. Then, in the right column, rate your performance in each responsibility as Average, Above-Average, or Excellent.

Once you’ve done this exercise, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about why you rated yourself as you did in each area.

What one thing could you do right away to improve any of those rankings?

What can you do to exceed the expectations of your employees?

What can you do to exceed the expectations of your manager/leader?

Remember…your effort, in your leadership role, sets the standard for excellence in your team/organization. I encourage you to be intentional about what it will be.

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To achieve excellence, one must consistently exceed expectations.

We’ve discussed that leaders are continuously working to improve themselves and their team’s/organization’s performance. Those who truly excel are frequently raising the bar on performance, because once you achieve a certain level, that’s the “new normal,” and you know there is something beyond…Settling for average is never an option. When you role model what you expect from others, it’s easier to influence others to perform at their best.

The next step is being ever observant of your team’s performance. When you are familiar with their strengths and abilities, you will be able to quickly recognize when they are not performing at level of their true capability. This is when it’s important for you to connect, provide feedback, discover what’s happening, and inspire your team to perform at higher levels.

Again, people do what people see, so if you aren’t performing at the top of your ability, others will notice and will fall into line with where you are. So, be sure to look within before you comment on what’s happening around you.

Over the course of my career, I have lead a number of projects and project teams — typically comprised of people I had no formal authority over, and yet, the projects we worked on were of high importance to the various organizations we worked for. Before I learned the lesson that I could accomplish more by connecting with and including others, I used to take on a lot of responsibility and completed all the work myself. So, my big lesson was learning to delegate and rely on others to do their part. The benefit from learning project management from this approach was that I have always been a working leader, for lack of a better term; not just the person who doled out a lot of work and waited for others to perform.

As part of the project team, I take on my share of the responsibilities, and hold myself to higher standards, usually, than I do for those around me. So, modeling what I expect from others has come easily for me. I have been told, on occasion, that my expectations for others are extremely high…and I admit it’s true. In part, it’s because I want to be successful; I want those I work with to be successful; I want the project to be successful; and, I see the potential in others, which leads me to believe they can achieve at higher levels.

What are your challenges in this area?

What can you do to set the tone for an organizational culture that exceeds expectations — one in which people are driven to achieve at ever-higher levels?

How are you modeling exceeding expectations? Remember, as John Maxwell says in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,

People do what people see!

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Have you given much thought to your values? Or, let me refocus that — how much thought have you given to your team’s or organization’s values? If I asked you to list them for me, could you write them down? What do you think the list would look like if we had the rest of your team, or the key leaders in your organization, write down what they think your values are?

It’s important that you can articulate them clearly, and even better if you are all on the same page in this respect.

The next — and very critical — step is to live and embody your values in every area of your business. Meaning, effective leaders driving healthy, smart organizations ensure values are the foundation of hiring decisions, strategic and tactical decision making, and even daily operations.

In order to move on, I encourage you to create two columns: One outlining your team’s/organization’s current values; one providing an example of how each value is being consistently demonstrated within your organization/team.

Is excellence on your list?

If not, would you benefit from including it?

Or, how do you ensure that excellence is the measure for how you embody the other values on your list?

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Well, what did you learn yesterday?

Now let’s take the next step along this path…If you were your customer, how satisfied would you be with the products, services, or interactions provided by your organization or team?

Based on this change in perspective, what investments should you make as a leader to lift the quality of your products or services?

Short post today, as there is more value in your reflection in these areas than there is in my adding more words…

Can’t wait to hear what you’re coming up with. HINT — see the “Comments” box below? Please, use it!!!

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