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Inspiring Your Team's Best

Dec 09, 2019

Pensive business man at the office looking upThe key word is inspire
 
I once asked a doctor, "How would you describe your ideal patient?" He said "Compliance." I found a different doctor.
 
People don't wake up in the morning wanting to be compliant. They wake up wanting to be inspired: to contribute, make a difference, to grow into a better version of themselves.
 
Think of a boss, teacher, parent or coach who had your back but also held your feet to the fire—that is, they challenged you to grow and never took excuses. You probably didn't always enjoy this. But when you felt the thrill of breakthrough performance, you rejoiced a little. And you were glad you stuck with it.
 
If you're the boss, inspiring the team's best starts with your own example: not being the buddy and not simply modeling the behavior you expect—but modeling one level beyond what you expect. Here's why:
 
If the boss is impeccable, the team will be outstanding.
If the boss is outstanding, the team will be above average.
If the boss is above average, the team will be average at best.
If the boss is average at best, the staff will have checked out long ago.
 
Clearly there are exceptions. Underperforming bosses can still have stellar teams. But if you're the boss, you can't bank on this.
 
Modeling one level beyond what you expect applies to everything from how you dress to how you communicate to how you treat other people, especially those who can't pay you back in some way. 
 
The team's conduct is almost always one degree removed from that of the leader.
 
Give your team an example worth aspiring to. Then hold them accountable to the standards you've set. This is the kind of culture that high performers are hungry for.
 
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