A distinguishing difference between organizations that do exceedingly well and those that are average is that the former has a Gold Standard that defines who they are, what they do and what the results of their work should look like. There is great clarity which is known and lived out by all employees.
The Gold Standard reflects the deeply held aspirational values of the organization. It includes clarity of mission, guiding principles, knowing what must be focused on day in and day out and the culture it is committed to creating. Without such a Gold Standard, there is no clearly focused missional agenda that brings alignment, ignites passion and keeps everyone moving in the same direction.
I am not referring to those ubiquitous documents that reside in dusty binders – the work of the obligatory five year strategic planning. We all know how effective most of those documents are. I am referring to a Gold Standard that is known and personally held by leaders as non-negotiables for the organization and communicated all the time to all the staff. Every staff member from the senior leader to the building engineer should understand, know and be able to communicate that Gold Standard.
The Gold Standard brings clarity to the aspirational values of the organization. I have written elsewhere that the first most important job of a leader is to provide maximum clarity to his/her organization or team about what is important to the organization. The second most important responsibility is to see that there is alignment around that clarity and the third most important responsibility is to see that there are results on that clarity.
But it all comes back to an articulation of what that clarity is – the Gold Standard for your church, your team or your organization. Without clarity you can be good at some things but you will never be great. My rule is that if you cannot communicate your clarity on one page it is too complicated and will not be remembered. Ministry is complex, complexity is confusing so your Gold Standard simplifies your complexity into an easy to understand, easy to articulate one page picture of your clarity.
Those who have read Leading From the Sandbox know that the organization I lead uses a sandbox metaphor and picture to communicate our clarity. With one picture we can visually communicate our Gold Standard.
There is no more important work for leaders than to do the hard work of identifying your Gold Standard. That Gold Standard becomes the glue that holds the organization together because it communicates who you are, where you are going, your non-negotiables and the results of your work. It is your true north, the directional arrow, the goal and the target. In the process it aligns your people in a common direction and helps focus the organization on what really matters to you. Get to clarity and you have a shot at greatness.