SuperSTAR Performance: Continuous Improvement
Continuous improvement is the 8th of the 9 leadership strategies that we’ve identified as strategies SuperSTAR leaders learn, implement and practice. These strategies, when used regularly and collaboratively, allow SuperSTAR leaders to stand apart from everyday leaders. The first 7 are here:
[Goals & Planning, Training, Communicate, Coaching, Leadership Flexibility, Recognition, and Promotions/Incentives].
In my opinion, continuity is another form of commitment. If we continue something, even if we change the details here and there, it demonstrates that we’re dedicated to making it more of what we want it to be, over time. That’s the thing I think leaders need to really understand – perfection is a process, it’s not a destination. Because every one of our employees will vary in terms of what they want, how they work and why what’s important to them is important, defining and striving for perfection is nearly impossible (and most of the time, very unhelpful). Instead, if we remain dedicated to the process of improving, we can take into consideration the changes that need to be made without compromising our goals in the meantime.
Another thing that I believe is essential to understand is that if we fail to recognize it’s a process, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. I think one component of understanding it’s a process is realizing (and accepting) that there is no way we can know every step, every obstacle, and every plan in advance. We can try, but if we don’t adapt as needed (check strategy #5: Leadership Flexibility), our rigid mentalities and stubbornness will only make the hurdles harder. But, when we lead our teams and enter projects with the mentality that it’s about maintaining a devotion to adjusting as we go, I think we’re much more likely to stay committed, feel less frustrated, and be more inspiring during the process.
Seth Godin, expert blogger, entrepreneur and best-selling author, had a blog awhile back that drove this point home. He said, “As soon as you accept that just about everything in our created world is only a few generations old, it makes it a lot easier to deal with the fact that the assumptions we make about the future are generally wrong, and that the stress we have over change is completely wasted.” For the entire post, click here. Really, the reason his point seemed relevant to this post is because it’s the same when we’re leading others. If we decide (at any point) that we have it (our employees, our projects, our success) all figured out, we’re in for a surprise, real soon.
So, what do you do to stay consistently committed to constant change? Here are a few suggestions.
- Improvement takes innovation. As leaders, if we create an environment that’s accepting (and encouraging) of change and growth – we’re naturally inviting our employees to do things differently. Experimentation doesn’t always result in success, but it’s essential at some point along the way. Encourage it and watch your employees’ creativity come to life.
- Ask questions. Problems are inevitable, and when you’re the leader, you’re bound to be involved in most of them. So, dig deep, ask questions and help expand your employees’ perspectives by inviting them to think “outside the box.”
- Conduct a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) allows your employees to intentionally take in a comprehensive inventory of information that’s readily available to them when they stop and reflect.
As Warren Buffett proclaims, “We enjoy the process much more than the proceeds.” So ask yourself, what are you doing to ensure that your team enjoys the process? What are you doing to demonstrate that continuous improvement is critical to achieving desired and decided-upon goals?