By Karl Newman
Dave was disengaged, unaccountable and resistant to change. He was one of eleven direct reports in my very first management job.
My company didn’t have a formal training program at the time and I was both untrained and uncertain where to start as a new leader. I was too inexperienced to know what a big project Dave would be and, fortunately for both of us, too optimistic not to try to bring him up to speed.
Engagement, accountability and a willingness to change are keys to creating excellence in any organization and I set out to help everyone develop a passion for excellence. Including Dave.
Unfortunately, besides being disengaged, unaccountable and resistant to change, Dave also had a generally negative attitude about everything. His best friend in the department joked to me privately that “Dave has such a negative attitude, you could give him a five dollar bill and he’d complain it’s wrinkled.”
I can’t claim that we cured Dave’s pessimistic approach to life, but we did help him change and grow. Dave always wanted to know why things were done a certain way and once he understood the purpose, he was willing to jump in and participate. We also helped him become more accountable to production standards and engage with team members to improve our output.
Not all of your team members will be as challenging as Dave, but it is still necessary to actively engage, ignite and unleash purpose and passion for ourselves and our teams if we want excellent results.
We all work better when we can connect our purpose (why we’re doing what we’re doing) with our passion (what we love to do). Here are some keys to help you and your team develop a passion for excellence:
1) Engage Your Purpose and Passion
Excellence is an attitude first and, in reality, the only attitude you can control is your own. Aldous Huxley said, “I wanted to change the world, but I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.”
As in all good leadership, start with yourself first. Be sure you understand the purpose of your work and how to communicate it.
Tie that purpose to what you love to do wherever and whenever you can. Make every effort to work in areas where you have strengths and delegate to a team member for strengths they have that you don’t. Look for ways to do the same for each of your team members. When all of you are working in your areas of strength, the team’s energy and enthusiasm will rise along with production.
2) Ignite Your Purpose and Passion
Excellence requires a clear vision and goals. A clear vision and goals provide focus to you and your team. With a clear vision, your team will know where to focus activities to get maximum results. With realistic but challenging goals your team will know how long to focus on key activities to achieve your goals.
3) Unleash Your Purpose and Passion
Excellence requires both action and results. Once you’ve communicated a clear vision, goals and standards, help your team achieve excellent results by making sure they have the tools, training and resources to accomplish what you’ve asked them to do. Set quality standards and regularly check to see that they are met. Hold your team accountable for results, reward excellent performance and honor outstanding effort.
A passion for excellence won’t happen by itself and it won’t happen overnight. By engaging, igniting and unleashing your passion and purpose you’ll see your team become more and accomplish more than anyone thought was possible.
Karl J. Newman is a Featured Writer for the John Maxwell Team Blog.