High Standards and Deep Devotion

High Standards

Anyone who knows me knows I read a lot.  I love to read, and I love what I do, so I end up reading leadership books and listening to podcasts because that’s my idea of fun!

If I get one useful thing from a book, a model I can use, a different view or perspective, a new way of looking at things then I feel it’s worth my time. I like to keep learning and growing and sharing those learnings with my clients.

I recently read Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss.  I have followed Frei’s work on culture that she has done with Uber, WeWork and SAP to name a few and I like some of the structures and models she uses to create clarity on complex issues.

The one that stood out for me in this book was the need for both Deep Devotion and High Standards for Leaders.  As leaders, we need to care for our people, to have their back, to support their aspirations, to provide flexibility and compassion particularly in these difficult times, and yet we also need to hold them to high standards.  Which may mean that we need to have difficult conversations with those who are not performing right now.  And how do you have that conversation remotely over Teams or Zoom?

To hold these 2 things as true at the same time is tricky at the best of times and right now when we are under pressure ourselves it may feel like a bridge too far for managers and leaders. Holding people to high standards is the definition of deep devotion because you want them to fulfil their potential, to do great work, to shine. If you didn’t care about them, you wouldn’t take the time or effort to have those conversations. If you are devoted to your people, you hold them to high standards.

But what are those standards right now in these times?  If we can co-create and agree on those high standards together with our people both at a team and an individual level, that not only creates clarity around expectations it creates connectivity to each other and to the outcomes.  So given homeschooling and lockdown, what does great look like? What is possible and needed from each individual and from the team, and how can you best hold each individual and the team accountable? So it’s not your standards, it’s the teams’ standards, it’s the agreed individual standards, and you also agree how you can hold them to those standards because of your deep devotion because you care.