First let me say that I have tremendous respect for those who lead successful business and treat their employees so well that they don’t want to leave. Even if they are offered more money! Exchanging mediocrity for excellence is difficult in any context. This is true because most people don’t like change. Most people prefer a sense of security over a sense for change. We can’t fault anyone for feeling this way, however if leaders are to grow in their capacity, efficiency, and influence then a new ethic must be embraced.

I’ve had the experience of working for both good and not-so-good employers. For the most part my reflection upon those times reveals that much of my praise or critique arises out of my own heart, mind, attitudes, and actions. Again, this is derived out of my reflections back (and I know the mantra of hindsight) yet I can’t seem to divorce the majority of those outcomes from my responsibility as an employee.

I was really impressed to see Greenleaf address the issue of labour unions in this chapter. Again, I have worked in both sectors. Yes there are, to some degree, major issues with labour union environments and I am in no way endorsing one over another (I could make a rational and reasoned case for the need of both). However, my feeling is that even in these environments outcomes can be affected by one’s values, mindset, attitudes, and actions. The largest take away for me from this chapter is the idea of transforming the company, institution, department, or working group from being a small entity into a larger, more vibrant community through developing, endorsing, and executing a new ethic of service within leadership.

Hope you find some value in my notes and comments below.

Quotes on Excellence over Mediocrity:

In the next few years more will be learned in business than in any other field about how to bring servant leadership into being as a major social force – pg 147

When any action is regulated by law, the incentive for individual conscience to govern is diminished – unless the law coincides with almost universally held moral standards – pg 148

The issue then is not whether all manipulation can be banished as evil, but rather, can some manipulation be made legitimate? By what standards, and how? – PG 150

The work exists for the person as much as the person exists for the work – pg 154

The business exists as much as to provide meaningful work to the person as it exists to provide a product or service to the customer – pg 155

Key Points for Excellence over Mediocrity:

  • There seems to be a resurgence in the call to ‘a new business ethic’ – striving for excellence.
  • Cannot legislate servant hood
  • Leadership is very much like the potter and the clay.The potter has a vision of the finished product and works tirelessly as a master of managing multiple activities (sometimes simultaneously) to encourage the clay to transform from a lump into a valuable piece of art – mixed with practicality, function, and value.
  • The test of leadership has not changed. What does the scorekeeper say?
  • Businesses will drive change. How should educational institutions follow suit? Maybe they have been for some time now…
  • The business exists to bring value to it’s employees as much as it delivers value to it’s customers.
  • The business must accept that serving is more important than being served. The mere possession of money does not give one an unqualified right to command the service of another.
  • This must be accepted by the business as a new ethic – not merely as a device for achievement.
  • Businesses must focus their energies on moving away from heavy emphasis upon production to where it needs to be – the heavy emphasis on growing people
  • Leading by example. If directors want a more socially responsible company they should start the process by becoming more responsible directors.

Principles for Excellence over Medicority:

  1. Cannot force people to serve others – must come form the heart.
  2. Persuasion is always a better path than compulsion.
  3. Ethic of Manipulation – if places of work are to rise above the level of mediocrity they will have to install their most able people in positions as leaders who will have a solid ethic of manipulation.
  4. Develop a legitimate standard for manipulation
  5. Start the change process slowly, one person at a time – using the daily practice of one’s life to impact others

Lesson Points for Excellence over Mediocrity:

  1. Question to Consider (Q2C) – is our leadership marked by a ‘manipulation by management or a management by manipultion’?
  2. Q2C – what is the proper ethic of manipulation?
  3. Sanctions pressing on emerging leaders against good performance (a) pride and conscience (b) social pressure of peers (c) last-resort authority of office
  4. Focus on becoming a manager of a process rather than the administrator of the day-to-day
  5. Remember: getting the right answer into the practice of others is likely to be much more difficult than finding the right answer in the first place.
  6. Take your time to hire well. It is better to not hire at all than to hire poorly (and more cost effective)

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This Wednesday on the Guild I interview Mike and Peter from our Metal Fab department. These guys have a heart for their students, a mind for education, attitudes for excellence, and actions that speak louder than words. Hope you enjoy.





the Guild YouTubeI’m also getting started in YouTube – I know, didn’t have enough on the go already? This YouTube channel is specifically built for trades people. Especially plumbers/fitters who are looking for some help in their productivity, exams, essential skills, and trade skills. Please pass along to someone who you think might like the content. Click here for my channel or search me out on YouTube by entering Tim Carson – the Guild.


have a great day – primus inters pares – vis facare