Leaders who encourage innovation and independence are often identified by a motivated team working towards realizing their shared vision of excellence. There is also a feeling of unlimited potential that allows team members to use their individual strengths to accomplish organizational goals. In other words, without a step-by-step “how to” manual, team members find ways to accomplish goals in their own manner.
There is little doubt as to the benefits of such an environment, but without proper feedback and follow through, the leader cannot appropriately support the team’s efforts and the team can inadvertently create an inconsistent experience. In order to avoid inconsistencies, leaders need to clearly define the minimum standard experience for the various operations. Once the minimum standard experience is defined and understood, leaders then provide the support necessary to ensure the team can deliver this experience.
The minimum standard experience does not, however, need to be a less than acceptable outcome. You can set as high a standard experience as you feel upholds your mission. The key for leaders is whether or not you are willing and able support that standard.
Setting high standards is good. Actually supporting high standards in a way to make that makes them a reality is great.
Here is an example I experienced recently that highlights what I mean by the standard minimum experience.
In my town, if I take my kids to a fast food place, I take them to either McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A. Both places train their teams to deliver a standard experience. Sometimes, the experience is better (or more enchanting) than other times, but basically, there is an obvious minimum standard upheld by each. It is, however, a different minimum standard. While McDonald’s has cheaper prices and a more diverse menu, Chick-fil-A brings my food to the table and its employees are always among the most polite I have ever encountered.
For school leaders, each program needs a defined minimum standard experience that speaks to the mission, core, mantra, etc. of your school. Maybe the best schools are not necessarily the ones who have high standards, but rather have higher minimum standard experiences.
Sometimes, defining your minimum may be the best way to achieve your maximum.