What does it mean to lead with excellence?
Last week we got together the members of our Mindset Leadership Inner Circle to discuss that specific topic. This group of senior decision makers, leaders of their businesses have high level responsibility for the future direction of their organisations.
I wanted them to spend time to focus on just what it means to lead with excellence.
We discussed how we choose to show up. How each day we make a simple, yet fundamental choice. I call this option A or option B.
Option A is allowing external factors such as the opinion of others, luck, fate, circumstance and things you cannot control to direct your reactions. This is allowing your power or agency to be handed over to someone or something else.
Option B is owning every choice and decision and taking control of your future and your present. Accepting full responsibility for how you respond to any situation. Even when things you did not want or can’t control happen.
Which option drives your life?
The truth is that none of us choose option B ALL of the time. The frequency of choosing option B has a direct impact on the level of excellence that we can achieve. Personally and as a leader.
Only when we step forward and choose option B do we create the environment for excellence to thrive.
Option A is easy, it is consequence light. You will never have to face into any real issues or challenges when you pick option A. You get to live life on easy street.
And you will always fall short of what you might be able to achieve.
Option B is hard. It is a daily challenge that demands the best from you. You will always question if you are enough with Option B. You will pass over the easy option to do what is right. Option B is the heart of excellence. It demands excellence from you. It demands you give all you have in the pursuit of being the very best you can be.
Excellence in practice
Following our conversations and learning around leading with excellence I wanted the team to experience true excellence. To be able to see first hadn’t what it takes to lead a team to excellence.
We took the team to enjoy Chefs Table at Dinner by Heston, the two Michelin star restaurant from Heston Blumenthal. I wanted the team to taste excellent food. More importantly I wanted them to watch and see how the team created consistently excellence outcomes. How they were led by Head Chef Jake.
Below are a few images of the amazing food we were served. The exquisite presentation and flavours that you would expect of a restaurant of this calibre.
However, what was more striking was HOW the team worked. Every member of the team appeared to know exactly what was expected of them at every moment through service. When we talked to Jake he shared that the team start at 8am to get ready for service – that is a full 10 hours before they are expected to perform.
Watching the team you could see they were full of people who were choosing option B consistently. The same attention was given to wiping down the cooking areas after a plate went out as was when playing delicate edible leaves and flowers on the plates that you see above.
The team worked in near silence. There was simple instructions or timings shared yet overall the sense of clam, efficient and systematic working was evident. Nothing seemed rushed or chaotic. Everything was controlled and predictable.
I was listening to a short interview with Adrian Newey about Max Verstappen in F1. He remarked that the very best operate from a place of automatic habits. It means that their processing space is freed up to consider how to take advantage of opportunities. This definitely reminded me of the kitchen. No energy was wasted on conflict. Or dealign with things that were out of control, so everything could be focussed on delivering excellence.
The secret to Excellence
Herein lies the secret to excellence.
As leaders we have to work hard to hone HOW we operate. The way we communicate. How we make decisions. What we do to organise and order our activities. The greater level of consistency we can deliver in the way we operate – the more ordered we can become the greater space we create for ensuring that what we deliver is excellent. The more opportunity we give ourselves to make an impact.
We have to create the processes that enable excellence. The one thing I recognised from seeing the kitchen at work was that the focus first has to been HOW you set up, how you create systems and process to achieve consistency and order. Then you work on excellence. The outcome always is driven by the quality of the system that you have in place.
We strive too much to create excellence, to create the outcome without really working on the process or system. it is the fundamentals that matter, the platform for performance to be built on.
Leaders fall back on the level of preparation and training. Rely on the systems we create. This is the only way we create an opportunity to step up and forward to excellence.
The Mindset Leadership Inner Circle
The Inner Circle is a unique environment for Senior leaders. We come together to discuss how we can develop the platform to make a bigger difference, to grow personally and professionally. It is a small group (max 6 members) who share their knowledge and expertise, support and challenge each other so that each member of the Inner circle pushes themselves to achieve excellence as a leader.
The IC consists of:
- Quarterly in person Summit 2 day experience – where we get to have fun and learn form seeing leadership from different examples (to date we have had hospitality at the Open Golf and a meal at Dinner by Heston)
- Personal 1:1 coaching from our leadership coaches
- Virtual hangout session every 2 weeks to stay connected and engage with the team
- A network of high level leaders who can provide advice and guidance to help you grow
- What’s app group – 24:7 access to your fellow IC members
If you want to find out more about the Inner Circle please go to the top of the page and click SERVICES and then select Mindset Inner Circle