A leader raises standards.
The leader raises the bar for everyone. She sees what is possible for an organization and for the individuals that make it up–even when they do not. She believes that her vision can be made real even when no one else yet believes.
By raising the standard, a leader insists that her people do better. She insists that they perform at a higher level, often a level that they don’t believe possible. She inspires, pokes, prods, coaxes, demands, and insists that they raise the bar. She forces them to use one of the greatest of all human attributes–resourcefulness–to find new ways to do the things necessary to moving towards her vision.
And she leads. She holds herself accountable for doing the toughest jobs, making the toughest decisions, and changing herself and the organization to become what it is capable of becoming.
The people who follow this leader will describe them as the person who did the most to help them become what they became, to realize their potential. But they won’t say that this leader made it easy for them. They’ll say this leader stretched them, starting with their vision.
A leader raises the bar.
Leadership is not a job. It isn’t a title you find on an organization chart. There are some people with titles that indicate they are supposed to be leaders, but their behavior betrays the fact that they aren’t.
The non-leader lowers the bar or leaves it where they find it. They accept the organization and the people that make it up right where they are, never imagining more, never demanding more. Their lack of vision, their unwillingness to raise the standard, and their unwillingness to demand more wastes the potential locked up in the people who make up the organization they lead.
If you lead others, raise the standard. No matter your position or role, you always lead yourself; raise your standard.