Skip to content

Leading with Excellence Setting Personal Standards of Success

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.” -Zig Ziglar

Wise leaders set personal standards of excellence rather than allowing external forces to define success or failure for them.  They set their standards above and beyond  what   others    require,    consistently   delivering    results    that    surpass expectations. In honoring their standards of excellence, credible leaders go first and give the most, modeling the work ethic they desire to see from teammates.

On the other hand, when leaders accept standards placed upon them by others, they sacrifice self-control. They begin to live inauthentic lives, chasing after “goals” they didn’t set and violating their values in ways they never would have thought possible.  In my experience,  there  are four common  culprits  that  leaders  foolishly allow to override  their personal  standards.

1) Competition

Allowing the competition to set your standards pulls you off mission and away from your unique strengths and values.  Being overly concerned  with your  rivals may  cause  you  to  copy  their   unethical   tactics  or  to  engage  in  unprincipled behavior  in an effort to win at all costs. In leadership, you have to chart your own course. Never allow the competition to choose the path for you.

2) Circumstances

Since there are so many factors beyond our control, in leadership we cannot gauge excellence solely on short-term results.  Outcomes are important and goals have merit, but at times circumstances will conspire to block our progress.  Consider the economic downturn. For leaders  with standards of success tied to stock prices or bottom  line  profits,  the  last  two  years  must  seem  like miserable  failures.  Keep your personal standards independent of life circumstances so that no matter what is going on around you, you can still achieve excellence.

3) Critics

As a leader, you will be criticized.  You’ll be scrutinized, second-guessed, and disparaged. Don’t confuse excellence with pleasing others.  If you do, you’ll always feel like a failure, because it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time. Stay true to your personal standards and don’t sacrifice them to pacify your critics.

4) Cheerleaders

When you’re successful, you gain the applause of everyone   around   you.  The applause massages your ego and begins to substitute for the fulfillment of meeting personal standards. If you’re not careful, you can develop an addiction to applause. Instead  of pursuing  excellence  you  play  to  the  crowd,  craving  their  adoration. Seeking popularity over principle, you allow others to measure excellence for you and to define your worth.

To avoid the trap of pandering to applause, surround yourself with people who tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear. The higher you go in leadership, the harder it becomes for your teammates to give you honest feedback. Make a point to stay humble and approachable so that you do not become self-deluded.

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.