A few weeks ago I challenged a group of people in a leadership class to talk about their passion and vision.
Leaders: Don’t ever apologize for your passion or vision. That’s what inspires excellence in others and people are capable of it.
The impetus for this came from a class discussion on passion and the fact that some people are afraid or embarrassed to communicate that. But honestly, a good leader must do that in order to expect excellence from the people they lead. Usually it’s because they don’t want to appear to be demanding or demeaning. Apparently it’s an affront to expect a lot out of a person. But it’s actually just the opposite. It honors them.
The highest compliment you can give to those you lead is to demand the best from them. Low standards do not communicate appreciation. They communicate contempt for someone’s ability and potential. Once you have stopped challenging someone to do more, you have stopped believing in them. And you have effectively stunted their ability to grow in their personal gifts and talents.
It’s the responsibility of the leader not only to cast vision, but also to make sure that those serving under the vision are maximizing their gifts in support of it. An indispensable tool that every leader must learn to develop, then, is the ability to speak life into potential. Call it out. And the best way to call it out is by maintaining a high standard. People don’t grow by being allowed to live in mediocrity.
So, leaders: Don’t apologize for expecting excellence. You and your organization deserve it, and people are capable of it.
You’re not being demeaning by holding your people to a high standard. The real affront would be to allow someone to work at a level that doesn’t correspond to the potential forgreatness.