Holding Yourself to a Higher Standard

I met Cesco from ‘Primi World’, a wonderful restaurant chain in South Africa, as part of a series we are developing on successful organizations. Cesco and his business partner, Peter, have set up one of the greatest eating establishments I have had the pleasure to visit.

In my interview with Cesco, he made a comment that I would like to share with you. I asked him what drives him and keeps him going? He said:

“I am not going to measure my achievements financially…. What is my capacity? How do I define myself? What do I tell my son? Who am I? Am I that person that got to that level, got too difficult and backed off? Am I the guy that got to that level and made a certain amount of money and switched off? Or, Do I push to see how far I can go?”

Most entrepreneurs say things like this but I loved his questions, “What do I tell my son? Who am I?” He holds himself accountable in a way that is very powerful.

I have not met anyone that does not want their son or daughter to admire them. I have found those that want their admiration, but when they don’t get it, they blame the child. ‘My child is misguided’ or ‘they don’t understand’. These people dismiss their lack of success with their children. Not many actually ask themselves if they are really doing things that will make their off-spring proud of them.

Cesco was not asking ‘how could he make his son proud of him?’ Cesco was saying, “What do I tell my son? Who am I?” He clarified it further when he said, “Am I the person that got to that level, got too difficult and backed off? Am I the guy that got to that level and made a certain amount of money and switched off? He was seeking to discover what he could achieve with the talents he has.

Holding yourself accountable is about asking yourself the questions that challenge you and then not dismissing the questions when the results don’t work the way you want them to!

There is a difference between being held accountable and the measurements we use. Cesco said he ‘will not be measured by the money he makes’. That does not mean that the money is not relevant! Of course he needs to have measurements in place to ensure that they are making a profit and not spending more than they are making. Making money is a measurement on a day-by-day basis. So is quality of food, hygiene, and many more measurements we use in our businesses.

Being accountable is about defining who we are? What are we about? Are we the person that gave it a go and then gave up when it was difficult? A major part of leadership is, challenging yourself to establish who you are and what you want to represent. The sad part is that we are often doing it and not realizing what we are doing it.

I recently bought a bike and did not get around to use it for a couple of months. When I used it for the first time, I found it was defective and took it back. The shop owner refused to deal with it because I could have damaged it myself. As I found out later, a number of bikes had been returned with similar problems. However, a staff member was embarrassed by his boss and agreed to replace the part as long as the boss never knew!!!! What standard does that shop owner hold himself to? He probably would not acknowledge that he holds himself accountable to money and money alone, but his staff know he does.

Your people know what standard you hold yourself to, even if you don’t.

So this month I ask you to consider:

* What do you use to hold yourself accountable to?

* Is the standard a standard you would be proud to tell your son or daughter?

* Is it the standard that you will be happy to see written on your gravestone?

We need to remember that if we don’t hold ourselves accountable, then how can we expect our people to be held responsible? People will not be held to a higher level than the boss is holding himself.

* To what standard do your people think you hold yourself accountable to?

* Does their perception match yours?

* What do you need to do to ensure they know what you stand for?

And finally:

Do you have a high enough standard that allows you to be the best you can be?

Have a great month and be the best you can be.


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