Think of your absolute favorite boss, president, or character from history. One of my favorites is Daniel from the Bible (yeah, the one who spent some time in a lion’s den). He lived in Corporate Persia and was third in charge of the nation. He was so excellent at his job that his peers hated him enough to lie and deceive the king to try to get rid of him. But Daniel never took action against them. They created a law that if he bowed before his god, he’d be breaking the law and they’d kill him. Nonetheless, Daniel just kept being open, full of character and excellence, and, in the end, won the day.
Today’s corporate workplace can sometimes feel like a lion’s den. But I encourage leaders to keep striving for excellence and expansiveness—it’s the only way to creating true greatness within themselves and their organization.
Two Hard Truths about Excellence
While it’s easy to give lip service to excellence, it’s a lot harder to do the hard work of consistently growing in excellence. It’s worthwhile to acknowledge the hard truths:
1. Excellence Isn’t Cheap
Whole books have been written about excellence, but often people want excellence without realizing there is a cost. Most do not want to pay the cost. Being excellent can create waves in your personal life. People might not like what you’re doing. It takes more time and effort and self-analysis to be excellent. This can run counter to our quick-fix society where we want everything now. If excellence isn’t costing you, it isn’t excellence.
2. Real Excellence Can Offend Others
When you are a person of excellence, you will not compromise. You’re not willing to say, well, it’s below standards for now but we’ll make it up later. You choose to pay the price up front, every time to not compromise. This is across the board in relationships, with customers, how you do your work.
Yes, Excellence Is Hard, but You Should Pursue It Anyway
Excellence obviously isn’t easy. So, why would a leader want to push themselves toward excellence? Well, likely, if they’re a truly great leader, they won’t be able to help themselves. People with integrity and a growth mindset are innately motivated to work to their own high standards. Beyond that, there are great benefits to leadership excellence—one of them being that leaders who’ve cultivated a habit of excellence can graduate to becoming an expansive leader.
Three Traits of the Expansive Leader
Expansive leaders are the ones who project a well-deserved sense of confidence and are able to create a great workplace atmosphere. How do they do it?
1. Expansive leaders have the ability to create a relaxed environment.
These are the leader who makes every one of their team feel like they’re relaxing at a coffee shop every time they’re with them. They lean back, they open their arms, and they’re totally present. They have a very relaxed feeling, even when they’re presenting.
2. Expansive leaders are open.
The expansive leader is confident in their excellence and their character and is open to really hearing, seeing, and embracing the people they interact with. They’re genuinely engaging to be around. Because they’re genuinely confident, they don’t feel they have to prove anything and they never come off as defensive.
3. Expansive leaders are highly discerning.
These leaders are uncompromising and highly discerning, although someone with less excellence will mistake their expansiveness for weakness or gullibility. Oftentimes, the expansive leader will allow that misconception to persist for a short time just to see what the deceiver is up to—and then stop them cold in their plans. Expansive leaders are discerning at all times, keeping a watchful eye on the motivations and actions of the people around them.
Leadership Is Never Easy, But…
Though it can sometimes seem like there’s a lion around every corner, leaders who cultivate excellence and expansiveness can have a tremendously positive impact on workplace culture and relationships.