Goals are something you hope to achieve. Standards are uncompromising.
This was the essence of a talk given by Eric Kapitulik last month to a group of local CEOs. Eric is the founder of “The Program,” an innovative leadership development firm with military roots. He and his team work with top-performing college sports programs and private companies.
Eric’s description illuminated something that I had been struggling to wrap my head around – on both a personal and professional level. He explained that when we don’t meet our goals, we dust ourselves off and try again. But, when we don’t meet our standards, there needs to be a consequence and/or accountability.
In a business context, we need both goals and standards. Goals push the organization and individuals to reach objectives. I agree with Eric that not hitting a goal is not a reason to part ways with an employee. However, if that person continuously struggles to hit the goals set for them, then that requires a more careful look.
On the other hand, an organization needs standards and principals that are uncompromising. Failure to meet those standards on a regular basis requires accountability and action, otherwise, the standards won’t mean anything or be trusted by stakeholders. A good way to think of these is in terms of “always” and “never.” For instance, an organizational standard might be, “We always respond to customers within 24 hours and we never promise to do something that we know we can’t.” The expectations are very clear.
The same is true in our family dynamics. You may have set goals as a family, but you also need standards; expectations for how we behave with each other and contribute to the family unit that’s in addition to basic responsibilities. What’s more is that parents can’t be afraid to set consequences when those standards aren’t met. To have these standards mean something, there should be a clear association between cause and effect.
For example, when your child comes in after curfew, they should know what happens next. Otherwise the curfew is meaningless and you have comprised both your standard and integrity. Kids also need to be empowered to call out their parents when they feel standards aren’t being met.
Finally, if we truly want to achieve personal greatness, we must have personal standards. Last week, I heard a serial entrepreneur share that his coach calls him each morning to see if he followed his fitness plan from the previous day. If he didn’t, there are predetermined consequences, such as no alcohol or dessert that day. At a higher level, when we fail to meet the standards we have laid out for ourselves, it can call our character and integrity into question.
This week, I encourage you think a bit more about the standards you want to establish for your team, your family and yourself. Where you set the bar has a lot to do with how much you can stand above the crowd.
Quote of The Week
“If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.”