How Leaders Restore Sanity to the Excellence Value

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Updated from March 13, 2012 post

In the aftermath of the 2015 Global Leadership Summit, one of the pieces of feedback I’ve heard over and over is an appreciation for the level of excellence in the experience.

While the fact that this was noticed is gratifying, somewhat less obvious is that it was healthy excellence that made all the difference.

What do I mean by healthy excellence? This earlier post unpacks some important principles.

If you want to move towards a healthy view of excellence,  here are three important distinctions that must be understood.

1.   Understand the distinction between professionalism and excellence
Professionalism is an often misguided attempt to mimic the sheen and polish of a Broadway production or Hollywood blockbuster. At its heart, professionalism is merely showmanship.

Whereas the heart of excellence, to quote Bill Hybels, “honous God and inspires people”. It’s reflected in a passionate desire to simply not settle for anything less than our best.

2.   Understand the distinction between individual excellence and corporate excellence
Individual excellence means “do your best”. Corporate excellence means “do OUR best”.

This shows up all the time in local churches. For example, if deacon Joe sings a solo at the weekend service, individual excellence would call him to do HIS best. But if he simply cannot sing well, and if there are others in the church far more gifted in vocal ministry, corporate excellence would call for that more gifted person to do the solo.

Corporate excellence calls for the organization’s best, not just an individual’s best.

3.   Understand the distinction between perfection and excellence
Perfection, almost by definition, is either unattainable or unsustainable. It can lead to an almost neurotic pursuit of error-free performance that can suck the joy out of your organization.

Excellence, on the other hand, creates an inspiring environment which sees teams spurring one another on. It recognizes that God has only ever given us His very best; therefore we ought to do no less for Him.

If the excellence value has been causing your organization undue angst, don’t discard the value. Instead, take it out, brush it off, and apply these three points of clarity to how you live it out.

Your sanity will be restored, and your organization may indeed move to new heights of excellence you never thought possible.

How do you apply the excellence value in your organization?

 

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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