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Chris LoCurto


August 5, 2013

Excellence is Created, Not Demanded

August 5, 2013 | By | 27 Comments">27 Comments

Excellence is something so many business owners and leaders automatically expect from their team, but does the team know what excellence looks like in the first place?

Chris LoCurto, Leadership, Business, Strategic Planning

What makes us think that people have been taught how to be excellent?

Excellence is created, not demanded. (Click to Tweet)

When you’re not spending time with your team, showing them what excellence looks like and teaching them about excellence, then they’re going to do the best that they know how.

Where did they learn their level of excellence? From those that came before them (insert parents, friends, teachers, former leaders, etc.). They bring their concept of excellence to your organization and if you want more than that, then be sure to check what you expect.

To have excellence in your business you have to:

  • Create a culture of excellence by teaching excellence.
  • Point out & recognize excellence on a regular basis.
  • Jump on things when they’re not excellent.

Jumping on problems does not mean taking peoples heads off. Instead, show them what’s wrong, explain it, and let them understand why it’s wrong while treating them with dignity.

If you can do this, your team will start having buy-in, as well as taking ownership. Which, in turn, will lead to your team taking care of your customer better, and your internal customer. When that happens, excellence shows up.

Start this week by pointing out where you’ve seen excellence in the building. People do what they are rewarded for and they will repeat what’s rewarded – find something! Point out where a team or a person has been excellent and spend time explaining why that’s so important. Do it from a, “Hey, if we continue to do this, we continue to take care of each other” approach. Think crusade mentality.

Then, put a process in place so people have the ability to point out how other team members are being excellent. Let your team brag on each other. Make sure that you’re continuing to share this message with everyone. If you will do this, people will go out of their way to be excellent.

Also, point out what bad excellence (can I even say that?) or a lack of excellence looks like. Don’t call out individuals specifically at your meetings (do that one-on-one and with care) but take time to point out how you’ve seen another company provide bad service and how it impacted you.

Excellence can’t be demanded but instead created. It’s part of your culture, and again, culture is actions and attitudes. When you create excellence in your culture, when you focus on what it takes to teach people, train people, and be an example, your team will be excellent.

Question: Who taught you to be excellent?

  • Dave Hultin

    I keep coming back to this post. The info is straightforward, but it’s something I need to hear again and again. And again. As a matter of fact, I just set a recurring monthly reminder to read this post again and again. And again. Thanks for YOUR excellence!

    • Chris LoCurto

      My pleasure Dave!!

  • Takis Athanassiou

    Excellent post and inspiring remarks, Chris. I would add to your list and the development of a “excellence” habits and reflections in the working place, because I do believe that everyday practice in “higher order”[!!!] thoughts, skills and practices can make a difference in an organization, company, group of people or just to yourself. Thank you for sharing these wonderful thoughts.

  • Misty Gilbert

    I loved this post Chris!
    It is a choice to choose excellence and I love the thought that excellence is your culture, which is actions and attitudes!!! Profound ways excellence can make an impact.

  • Mark Sieverkropp

    I have so many people that have taught me to be excellent…and several have taught me by their BAD example.

    You’re so right, you can’t force people to be. It’s through encouragement, support etc. people have to WANT to be excellent, otherwise they won’t be!

    Great post brother! Thanks!!

  • Joshua Rivers

    When trying to create excellence, re-enforcing excellent behavior verbally is important, but we also need to make sure that our actions match our words. I’ve seen it happen too many times where a manager (term used on purpose) gives some sort of praise, but then treats the employee (again, term used on purpose) like their input, ideas, and needs are not important. The words of praise become a joke and distrust begins to grow. The employee becomes demoralized – which then spreads through the rest of the team.

    I’ve probably done this same thing without realizing it. As I’m getting ready to start a new school year, I’m going to work at being more intentional and consistent. This is one area to work on.

  • Zech Newman

    Great post. Many have taught me what excellence looks like. Because of this my idea of excellence is changing and morphing. Something freeing telling your team grow with me as I grow.

  • Bob Winchester

    I’m late to the party here, but I had to comment on this…

    I run into this situation more often than I’d like. Being in a technical industry, I see this all the time. Leaders somehow think that by pushing people, constantly showing them where they are wrong, and telling them to do better, that somehow they will get better results. Really??

    Running on a flat tire is only going to tear it up!

    Teaching excellence in every detail, recognizing excellence that already exists, and most importantly reminding people how excellence ties into the mission is how you do that.

    • Joshua Rivers

      It’s sad how often people try to motivate with negativity.

  • Micah Toftness

    Working for the family business my dad has always set a great example of excellence, not by his demands rather by the way he goes about his work. I find it enjoyable to work in that type of atmosphere.

  • Paul Jolicoeur

    My father and some key mentors I have had in my life!

  • Joe Lalonde

    My dad taught me to be excellent. He did his work, did it well, and kept on going.

    There’s been very few of my official leaders in my business life that have taught me excellence. It’s business as usual until their superiors came.

    I’ve learned that’s not excellence. It’s doing a half-baked job.

    • Jon D Harrison

      Joe, interesting how we can learn from examples that are contrary – the absence of excellence can teach quite a bit about it as well!

      • Joe Lalonde

        That’s right Jon. We can take the bad examples we’ve had in life and learn what not to do. It’s the anti-model.

      • Mark Sieverkropp

        Agreed Jon! I learn just as much from bad examples as anything else!!

  • Joel Fortner

    I’ve heard for years “You must demand excellence from your team!” Uh, yeah. No. That’s the easy way out for a leader. The harder but more impactful route is to create it. I had a few professors in college who first taught me to be excellent and have many friends since then who have modeled it well.

    • Jon D Harrison

      Modeling is really the key there – sounds like you had some great professors?

  • Steve Pate

    Needed to read this today. Thanks

  • Lily Kreitinger

    I have to thank my dad and my mom for having taught me what excellence looks like. They both always pointed out how I did something well, and how to do it even better. My dad was relentless on work ethic and performing at an outstanding level to the point where he built a solid career in a Fortune 100 company with a high-school degree and some training as a computer analyst. My teachers always encouraged me to go from A to A+ and my leaders at work have coached me and helped me grow. Had it not been for all these people, I would be completely lost. As a leader, my current job is to be the “excellence police”, showing people good examples of what we are striving for to wow our client.

    Great post!!!

    • Joel Fortner

      Excellence police! Sounds like a good job for Lily!!!

  • Erik Fisher

    To tie this in to your last post: Managers demand excellence, and Leaders create teams that can’t do anything but excellent work.

    I’m on a mission, to create excellence in my own circle, team, and life, and to point it out where others are doing the same.

    • Joel Fortner

      Love this!

  • Jon D Harrison

    I love this, Chris.

    When coaching others on excellence – Don’t let it go unrecognized.

    When coaching others on lack of excellence – Don’t let it go unrecognized.

  • Matt McWilliams

    For some reason I am thinking of the love “Ghost” now….

    I learned excellence from mostly people I have never met. I didn’t have parents who strived for greatness. Or any teachers who pushed me. And for most of adulthood, I have been an entrepreneur, so I’ve only worked for two leaders..and one sucked.

    So I learned to strive for excellence from books, videos, and yes, even television. Zig Ziglar, Tny Robbins, Eric Thomas, Jim Rohn and other speakers plus athletes such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Mike Tyson.

    • Joel Fortner

      I know, Matt! I thought of that same scene! I’ll never look at Chris the same.

      • Lily Kreitinger

        That was definitely an interesting choice for an image…

      • Jon D Harrison

        I went there for a second, but then Leslie Nielsen’s parody of the scene came to mind…