When the leader of an organization begins to accept less than the best, the standard is lowered. Whether that acceptance of less than the best is for the performance of the leader him/herself or when the leader accepts less than the best from employees, the standard drops.
The negative impact from accepting less than excellence shows itself in many ways.
If performance that is less than excellent is accepted, the following things occur:
- The lower level of performance will become the norm. If this runs through your entire practice, the practice will become substandard itself. Productivity will decrease.
- The financial health and well-being of the practice suffers and no one can expect to take home more pay. The lid on salary has been closed.
- People will become despondent and complacency will set in. When complacency sets in, energy drops, as does enthusiasm and joy in the workplace. People will come to work − but in body only. You will not have the mind, the heart, and the caring needed for a thriving business.
- If substandard performance by one employee is accepted and not corrected, other employees who may be superstars will resent the fact that someone is allowed to perform at a substandard level. They may wonder why they should put in so much effort and their own performance may drop. Or, they may resent the other person who is not holding up their end of the deal. Or, they will resent the boss who allows this to happen. You earn respect; you cannot buy it.
When you, as a leader, accept less than excellent performance from yourself or others, you do no one any good. By establishing the standards of performance that are expected in your organization and making sure that these standards are upheld − no matter what that takes – you set the criteria and the motivation for excellent performance. Most people are not performing at their peak. As a leader, one of your goals and mandates is to support people on a continuous path of improvement. The “knowledge worker”1 of today wants to be stretched. They want a career path. They want to be challenged. They want to be on a continuous path of improvement2.
Hold fast to a standard of excellence. Sit down and revise your vision of your ideal practice. Then, look at the systems you have for supporting people on a path of continuous improvement. Look at the monitors you have in place to determine if excellence is being obtained. If not, honestly ask yourself what you are doing to alter the performance of anyone who is substandard.
What are your standards? Do you know? Do your monitors speak the truth? Do you step up to the plate with alternative action when the monitors indicate this is appropriate?
People want to do well. People want to know in their hearts that what they are doing is excellent. Be a vehicle for your own employees or teammates and support them on a path to excellence.
1. Drucker, P. (1999). Management Challenges for the 21st Century. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
2. Deming, W.E. (1986). Out of the Crisis. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press.