Ken Haigh leadership, productivity, and technology | about

The Leadership Equation: Excellence

In addition to wisdom and self-control, we will look at a third important characteristic of a competent leader: Excellence.

    \[ l_i = \left ( i_1 + t + f + h + \frac{s_1}{s_2} + c_1 + j\right )\left ( w_1 + u + l + \frac{s_3}{a} + e \right )\left ( w_2 + \frac{m_1}{m_2} + c_2  \right ) \]

where l_i = leadership/influence and e = excellence

Good leaders demonstrate and expect excellence in everything. Everything includes both who they are (inward character) and what they do (actions.) If a task is worth doing, then a good leader does the task right and with full effort.

The Practice of Excellence

Excellence is not a one-time event. Aristotle stated,

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Since excellence is a habit, no matter what the task, small or big, trivial or important, a good leader strives for excellence and sets an example for others to follow.

Impact of Excellence

Good leaders also expect excellence in others. Setting an expectation of excellence for all activities and roles in an organization will help train others through practice. Eventually, the habit of excellence will enable achievement that might not have seemed possible. Excellence is the basis for a high-performing team and for delivering a quality product and service.

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Job, CEO of Apple Computer, Inc.

Excellence not Perfection

Excellence should not be confused with perfection. Excellence is a pursuit not a destination. As Edwin Bliss once said, “The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time.” Achieving perfection is an impossible task and unforgiving since it never makes allowances for error. Having unrealistic expectations in the pursuit of perfection will lead to discouragement and the condemnation of others. This condemnation decreases the morale on a team and ultimately leads to turnover in an organization.

Summary

We have looked at wisdom, understanding, learning, self-control, and excellence. All of these characteristics enable a person to competently lead others. In the next post, we will start the discussion of the characteristics that help a leader cast vision.

Question: What other characteristics of a competent leader would you add?

In Leadership (apple, excellence, Leadership, steve jobs)
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