[April 27, 2014] As a young Army officer, I learned quickly that there is a direct relationship between keeping Army standards, success, and discipline. This lesson has carried me throughout my career and has been a simple guidepost to what I do in leading my units to accomplish whatever mission we have.
I learned that one criteria of a successful and productive leader is fairly enforcing standards, and when necessary, creating them in a way that ensures benefit to all. Upholding high standards of behavior and accomplishment in the workplace, at home, and in everyday life are crucial for our ability to succeed and get along with other people.
Businesses, for example, with relevant and clearly definable standards that are communicated well and reasonably enforced, will be able to achieve high levels of efficiency and competitiveness. “Relevant” because they must apply to the functions of the organization. “Definable” because there must be a way to articulate both the standard itself and why it is needed.
“Leadership is not magnetic personality/that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people /that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” – Peter Drucker
In all things we do as humans, there must be careful enforcement of standards, some of them being more important than others. Safety standards, for example, should not be compromised.
Standards that are not related to the organization, some being overcome by technology or social mores, should be modified to fit or eliminated. For example, there should be no requirement to be of a certain race, ethnic group, gender, etc. in business (or in most things we do).
Recently I wrote about how the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been pushing businesses to eliminate relevant standards (like criminal background checks) in hiring (link here). This is an unfortunate trend.
Creating relevant standards with purpose and care is also a must. They should be developed with all stakeholders kept in mind. Development of and the introduction of new standards must also be handled properly. This is the basis of the philosophy of “fairness.”
When standards are created and applied equally to everyone, then we work with greater efficiency, interact with others with increased harmony and less fear, and can work harder with greater creativeness because we are treated with respect (fairness). Leadership cannot be separated from standards … and standards cannot be separated from discipline.
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