Team Standards

This week’s exercise is inspired by Navy SEAL officers Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. In their book, Extreme Ownership, they translate their Navy experience to real-world business and life lessons.

Are there moments when you can't count on your team?

Willink and Babin would argue that your team’s subpar performance can only be explained by your willingness to tolerate it.

In Extreme Ownership they state, “When leaders who epitomize extreme ownership drive their teams to achieve a higher standard of performance, they must recognize that when it comes to standards, as a leader, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate. If poor performance is accepted then poor performance becomes the new standard.”

Introducing Your Team Standards Exercise

What It Is
A way to understand if your team is truly practicing what you preach.

Why We Love It 
When work gets busy we sometimes forget to focus on the basics that keep things running smoothly. This exercise gives you a chance to take a step back and assess whether your team is adhering to your success standards and identify what you can do to get things back on track (if needed).

How It Works

1. Make a list of the top 5-10 things you preach as a leader and believe are truly critical to success. These are the one-liners you drop all the time -- the standards you are constantly reiterating to your team. Examples include things like, "being on time is a sign of respect" and "inclusion is a top priority."

2. Review your list in #1 and identify instances where your team's behavior is inconsistent with each of the items you preach. Ask yourself: 
- Are there any situations where I am tolerating behaviors that don’t align with these standards?

To build on the example above, one might think: "Being on time is important but I tolerate people showing up 15 minutes late without a reasonable excuse."

3. For items identified in #2, examine whether YOUR behavior is consistent with what you preach. For example it’s one thing to expect the team to be on time and stay silent when they’re late. It’s another thing when you expect your team to show up on time and you are always late.

4. Based on your analysis in #2 and #3, select one thing you can do differently to make the things you preach a true priority for your team. Ask yourself:
- How am I going to personally change my behavior to be more consistent with our success standards?
- How am I going to respond to my team differently when their behavior doesn’t align with our standards?

Want to dig deeper into this topic?
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Here's what your fellow trekkers have to say about past treks:
"The Wake-up Call trek really hit home for me. My best days are the ones when I avoid email until as late as possible and this reminded me to stay mindful. It's key to make sure I get grounded first so I can give important things the attention they deserve."
Vijay Rajendran, Director, BBVA New Ventures
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