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Setting the Bar: Emerging Leaders Series

Where is your bar? Do you know? The “Bar” in this context is the level of expectation for performance that you are going after. Often, these are established goals or objectives being sought. We often see this bar as something your organization or boss has set for you. We have found an incredible opportunity here for anyone wanting to stand out among peers or simply do their very best work every day.


We have found many winning leaders here. As we have worked with leaders from countless organizations, those who set their bar higher than that of the organization produce far greater results consistently and are recognized as high-potential leaders within the team.


So how do you do this? Below are five behaviors we recognize for anyone wanting to leverage this key tactic to becoming a winning leader:


  1. Be the Bar. This is a mindset you need to set for yourself. The first step is to see yourself as the bar, the standard for all other team members to look at as the example for excellence. This is not a bragging or ego thing. This is about setting your mind right around your own professional expectations.

  2. Always Set the Bar Higher Than Expected. Close your own Knowledge Gap around what is expected of you. Identify the behaviors and results the organization deemed "the bar" and then set yours higher. Consider your own potential, including any milestones to measure along the way, and set those as your expectations.

  3. Define the Behaviors that Equal the Bar. Behaviors, the things you do, drive actions and, ultimately, the results you produce. Learn what behaviors will produce those things that will equal the bar. Look to others outperforming you to learn what they are doing and where you could improve those behaviors.

  4. Innovate within the Set of Behaviors and Train to Them. Don’t simply copy the behaviors of others; take them to the next level. Seek out training and feedback on your performance. Push yourself and your processes to stretch your comfort zone and grow. Research the industry, take classes, and participate in conferences, networking events, or meetups with like-minded people. Be curious!

  5. Share. Again, this is not a bragging or ego thing. This is about helping your overall organization improve and grow. By going through this process, you will develop unique insights and skills that can tremendously help your organization.


Finally, let’s look at this through the lens of Gapology…


Close your own Knowledge Gaps

Know where your boss’s bar is set. Know where the bar of others is set. If you need the education to exceed their bars, seek it out. Take a mentor to help you improve.


Close your own Importance Gaps

Set your own expectations, don’t wait for others to set them for you. Communicate your self-expectations to others. Build your leadership rhythm and priorities around activities to help you reach your bar.


Close your own Action Gaps

Take an accountability partner who will help hold you accountable, give feedback, and challenge you.


Either you set your own bar, or you let others set it for you. This is a fact. If you want to truly control your own career... and destiny... begin by taking ownership of your expectations, behaviors, and results. All of this starts with defining and aligning your bar.


*Listen to our full Gapology Radio podcast discussion on this topic: Setting the Bar

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