Steve Jobs famously said that “people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
But expected of whom?
You’ve probably worked for a boss who held you to an extremely high standard. But did that same boss hold herself to the same standard? Probably not, as a matter of averages. And an organization with disconnected and hypocritical leadership cannot be excellent. It is doomed to mediocrity.
Therein lies the secret to Apple’s success. It wasn’t that Jobs expected excellence of his employees. First and foremost he expected excellence of himself. He was simply willing to work harder than anybody else in the pursuit of quality. Jobs’ personal drive raised the bar for everyone around him, and created the culture of excellence that has transformed the way we use technology, along the way making Apple the most valuable company in the history of the world.
If excellence eludes you maybe you’re trying to solve the wrong problem. Maybe the problem isn’t your team or your class or your cohort. Maybe the problem is you.
If you really want to be remembered as a leader, a change agent, a visionary, forget about organizational development, and team-building and all that other management consultant baloney. Fix yourself first. Be the person who will stop at nothing in the pursuit of excellence.