Raising The Bar
One of the most popular events in the Olympics is the pole vault event. We all watch with amazement and anticipation as the competitor runs full speed down the track with a long pole in his hands. Then the jumper hangs on for dear life as he lowers the pole downwards into a hole that propels him high up in the air, high enough to clear the bar just in front of him. The jumper then has a soft landing on his back ready to jump even higher the next time.
The goal of the jumper is not to be the fastest down the track, or to be the most efficient at hitting the mark with the pole. No, the goal is to jump high enough to clear the bar. Then, do it again, and again, and again each time the bar is raised.
Whether you know it or not there is a bar to be raised or lowered in your organization. The name of this bar is: The Bar of Expectations. Each time you expect more of your staff, volunteers, or yourself you are raising the bar.
But, how far can you raise the bar, and how fast? My experience while working with all types of organizations is that there is a tried and true fact, the smaller the organization the lower the bar of expectations. In other words, the fewer people you have to work with the less you can expect (or demand) out of them.
Lets use for example a small choir. The choir director wants so bad to perform like a five hundred voice choir but knows if she puts too much demand on the choir members they might quit. Leaving holes that might be impossible for the rest of the group to fill. Or she might have a hard time getting members in the first place because her expectations are too high.
Conversely, if we look at a five hundred voice choir we see a director with the same dreams - dreams to perform at peak potential. The difference in this situation is the choir director can start out with high expectations or put rather high demands on her members because she knows that there are many who would love to be a member of her choir.
You might be saying, "How do I raise the bar in my organization?" In my experience I have discovered four techniques that you can do to continually raise the bar, which will challenge your team members to become more effective in their duties and strive for their dreams..
Listen to where each team member is. This is especially important if you acquire a new team member or if you yourself are the new leader on the team. Listening to not only what is said but also what is not can help you determine areas of weakness in your team member's life, leadership skills, or ability. Plan one-on-one conversations where you can listen for areas of insecurity, fear, frustration, passion, past experiences, and confusion. Hearing comes natural to all of us, but listening is learned. The better you learn to listen the more your team member will open up and share where he is and where he wants to go.
Learn to be patient. In most small organizations most people on a leadership team are used to the status quo. Therefore, when you challenge them to grow in new ways you must be patient. If you go too fast they will dig in their feet or put up walls - or both. It is difficult to go slow when you see your team members with such great potential. Potential that is untapped, and perfect for the growth of your organization.
Lead one step at a time. Remember, they are a small cup and you are a gallon of water. If you pour out all your knowledge and experience you will quickly overflow their cup. Therefore, lead one step at a time in areas that you have detected are weak. Some weak areas that I find in most people that are in smaller organizations are:
List what you expect, inspect what you list. In order for anyone on your team to grow you must hold them accountable. Now, this must be done carefully because if done incorrectly you could be faced with many embarrassing holes in your organization (i.e. the choir). The best way I have found to hold people accountable in a smaller organization is to challenge them with a goal. A goal that is measurable, obtainable, requires action, and has a deadline. By doing this you will see how strong of a leader they are, and how they can perform when a deadline is approaching.
You will be able to increase your demands (or expectations) as the organization grows and as your leaders increase their leadership ability. The larger the organization gets the bigger the goals can be. The greatest part about this is the reward. It is almost like you are a proud father watching your child sing her first solo, or hit the homerun to win the game. When your team members begin accomplish bigger goals in less time you know you are becoming a more effective leader and your expectations can rise. Remember, go slow and you will grow.
Footprints and Monuments is a free monthly leadership and motivational e-newsletter. No names receiving this e-newsletter are sold or distributed to any other source. You are encouraged to forward this monthly article to anyone in your address book. To un-subscribe please reply back with "Un-subscribe" in the subject field.
About The Author
The First Step for Getting Better Results
How dramatically we can change our results is largely a function of imagination. In 1960, it was a technological impossibility for man to travel into outer space.
Dont Let Failure Go To Your Head
I watched as an 8-year-old All-Star slid dramatically into second base. Yet the umpire gave the dreaded signal, "Out!" The crowd yelled, "That's OK.
Trust Your Intuition!
How many times have you been faced with a decision to make and all of a sudden you get this feeling of instinctively knowing what you must do? Something inside you is telling you the difference between what you should do and what you are meant to do. Many people interpret this as a hunch, a gut feeling or having an inkling.
Breaking Even: When is Enough, Enough?
I had the most interesting discussion today with a friend of mine. He and I were chatting about the economy, his job, families, and life in general.
Comment on Extra Ordinary Men of Our Time
Remember during the missions of Apollo. And others we knew every astronaut by name, we made them heroes.
Self-Motivation for Trainers
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-MOTIVATION FOR TRAINERS: Lack of self-motivation is an unfortunate side effect of our accelerated times. Many people today are cynical and disillusioned or feel that to appear sophisticated, they must become so.
Action vs. Apathy - Feeling Powerless? Get Moving!
How many times have you felt truly defeated by the circumstances in your life? You know, the "I don't know why I bother to keep trying, I'm going back to bed and staying there" feeling. It happens to everyone - housewives, corporate executives, rock stars, actors, world leaders.
It's early January as I sit down to research and write this newsletter. I launch my web browser, surf over to MSN.
Did You Have A Tough Childhood?
Many claim intense childhood trauma "damages" a person in their adult years.But is this necessarily true? We all have obstacles and hardships -- some of us more so than others.
How To Become More Patient
"Lord give me patience - and hurry!"Have you ever prayed this prayer? You've had plenty of opportunities to, haven't you? I don't know about you, but I tend to overestimate what I can accomplish in the hours I have, and underestimate the hassles that will accompany those tasks that seemed simple when I took them on. Patience is an essential skill for both organizational leaders and team members.
Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is more deadly than failure itself. The fear of failure paints so many imaginary scenarios which petrifies you and renders you immobile.
Wisdom Comes to the Inquisitive Mind
Throughout my life I have observed many things and I am often amazed (but shouldn't be) at how Wisdom is demonstrated in all ages. It is not reserved just for the elders.
Prime That Pump! Part 3
How healthy is your vision of yourself? How does your mental image of yourself stack up against that of, say, some hero of yours? Let's find out.Take a few seconds and picture yourself in your mind's eye.
How Do I Stop Procrastinating?
Often times we procrastinate because it just seems like so much WORK to get what we want! We just don't feel like the rewards justify everything that needs to be done to obtain those goals.Other times we procrastinate because we feel like we can't have what we really want so we settle for something less than we truly deserve.
A Reality Practice
Suggested practice to gain freedom from self-limitation.It is suggested that what is actual and real in the world can only be experienced in the ongoing moment (by moment) and that to be fully in the moment can only happen if all ideas and beliefs about it are gone from the psyche - including the sense of "I", of self identity.
After the Storm......
Have you ever wondered why is it that after we go through a bad phase in life we seem to come out better for it? It use topuzzle me too until recently after I stared down a gunman'snozzle I realized why.If you have ever been in a situation like I did and survived totell the tale you would be more than grateful for everything.
Three Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself Today!
Are you having a hard time getting things done? Are you making no steps toward achieving your goals and dreams? Could you use a little "motivation"?Here are three easy things that will help you get there one day at a time.1-Review your Goals first thing in the morning.
Its My Blankey and Im Keeping It!
"Blankey" - as in Security Blankey. OK? All parents know what this is.
The Loneliness of Personal Growth
The cream rises to the top. That means that it separates itself from the milk.
Making the Most of Now
"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land.