Look For Signs That The Excellence Habit Is Deteriorating

Max DePree, former CEO of Herman Miller, writes in the book Leadership Is An Art “everything has a tendency to deteriorate. One of the most important things leaders need to learn is to recognize the signals of impending deterioration.”

Here is his partial list of his signals of deterioration.

  • a tendency toward superficiality
  • a dark tension among key people
  • no longer having time for celebration and ritual
  • a growing feeling that rewards and goals are the same thing
  • when people stop telling tribal stories or can’t understand them
  • when people begin to have different understandings of words like “responsibility” or “service” or “trust”
  • when problem-makers outnumber problem-solvers
  • when folks confuse heroes and celebrities
  • leaders who seek to control rather than liberate
  • when the pressures of day-to-day operations push aside concern for vision and risk
  • an orientation toward the dry rules of business school rather than a value orientation that takes into account such things as contribution, spirit, excellence, beauty, and joy
  • when people speak of customers as impositions on their time rather than as opportunities to serve
  • relying on structures rather than people
  • a loss of confidence in judgment, experience, and wisdom
  • a loss of grace and style and civility
  • a loss of respect for the English language

Leaders of organizations committed to being as good as they can be nurtureĀ  cultures that maintain the spirit of mental and physical excellence. Excellence occurs with the commitment of everyone’s heart, head, and hands.

Continue building all three in context with your organization’s vision, inspirational purpose, promise, values, and senior organizing goal. Celebrate advancements and victories. Celebrate personal bests. Celebrate heroes past and present. Celebrate your hope for the future. Celebrate your faith in your people. Celebrate theĀ  passionate execution of each team member’s roles and responsibilities.

Keep working smart, having fun, being happy.

Think well and be inspired.

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