High Standards Define Great Leaders


In any organisation the leader & the leadership team set the standards. How this team operates sets the environment for the rest of the people in the wider team. Kendall Langston shares his thoughts around the standards and expectations he has of those he works with and leads.

‘Leaders have relentlessly high standards - many people may think these standards are unreasonably high’ - Jeff Bezos

Many organisations have very talented people, great ideas, awesome tools of the trade to get the job done and a real mission but never get anywhere near their full potential. I have lead in several high performing military and commercial environments & currently professionally coach and support some fantastic CEOs, military officers and emerging executive leaders & there is no easy path/short cut to achieving success.

The standards & expectations you set as a leader will define the success of your team. As the leader you create the environment and the momentum to win in a tough environment.

The key drivers of leadership success;

1. Growth Mindset

Experience and technical skills are critical but a growth mindset is the game changer. Leaders with a growth mindset (as in high performance sport) believe they can learn and get better and better as a leader and as a team.

2. Pick your team carefully

Most teams in business are long term so ensure those in key roles fit, have the desire to lift the game and are people you enjoy working and hanging out with. Surround yourself with good buggers.

3. Diversity of thought rules

A range of different thinkers and backgrounds is a key to success. People who think differently and who are prepared to challenge your opinions and ideas can be confronting to many and a challenge to lead and align.

3. Park the ego

If you want to achieve things the organisation has never done then you will have to be a better leader. More open to ideas, a driver of change, a facilitator of courageous conversations, better at alignment of your leaders within the team. Be prepared to adapt & iterate plans.

4. Future focussed

A vision of the future drives inspiration, aligns decision making and provides a mandate for change ie doing what we do now with the structure and talent we have will not get us there.

5. Expect more, far more

You have to be 20% better every year just to stay the same. Train together, have tough conversations, coach your people, get coaching yourself from professionals, seek mentors, hang out with peers, seek input from those who have done it, read, listen and apply things into real situations.

6. Behaviours and meetings

Your ability to master the soft skills, to coach, to lead good meetings, to play with horizons and agendas are your best tools. Disrupting business as usual constantly in a good way is the role of a leader.

7. Set and maintain high standards

This will at times be criticised and uncomfortable but those leaders who are courageous will get the respect of their teams by executing the important things that set the organisation up for future success.


Anyone can lead in good times but sadly not many can effectively lead and execute change in tough times.



This blog was written by Kendall Langston, Strategic Advisor at Advisory Works.

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