L’excellence authentique


Une certaine idée du management et des affaires


 How to deliver authentic excellence in your business                                    

(Un article extrait de Flight Time Magazine – flybe.)

Every person matters, every time, says Clayton John Ainger, of Sareos Consulting and having the right culture is crucial.

In today’s business world, we have seen how poor behaviours by leaders and organisations have significantly impacted on their brand and reputation, from the horsemeat scandal to News international and, more recently, Volkswagen, who has seen their sales dropped from the first time in 11 years. We have all experienced standards slipping in some areas of corporate business.

 Authentic excellence is no longer optional; it is absolutely crucial to the sustainability and success of all businesses today. This is because it is the foundation to having the right culture that facilitates good decision-making and delivers sustainable results.

So, what is authentic excellence?

Authentic Excellence is where every person matters, every time; where the values, behaviours and standards of your people are aligned with the values, behaviours and standards of your organization; where both your people and your organisation take pride in and honour their standards, own their behaviours and live their values. It is only then that true progress is made, true potential is achieved, and the desired results underpinning your business plan will be fulfilling for all. So, how do you deliver authentic excellence into your business?

Authentic excellence is born and delivered out of congruency and TRUTH! Let’s start with congruency. Happy people mean happy returns – there is a direct correlation between how your people feel, individual performance and business results. The happier your people feel, the better their performance, and the better your results. The immediate and long-term success of your company is directly linked to the happiness, quality and high performance of your people as individuals and collectively, as a team, which is driven by how to congruent your people are in your business (and in life).

So what about TRUTH?

At Sareos, we work with different teams of different sizes, in different organizations, across different sectors in different parts of the world. In those organisations that consistently achieve outstanding results, with authentic excellence is central to their success, and one thing is consistent across them all – they lead and leave by their TRUTH. So what does it mean to lead and live by your TRUTH?

Trust. Teams seek to build trust by sharing vulnerability

Responsible. Teams always seek to do the right thing

Understanding. Teams seek to understand the needs of others

Talk openly. Teams enjoy a healthy debate

Hold. Teams hold themselves and each other accountable

As you read this article, you may be asking, where is the commitment to success and drive for profits? My answer is this: I have seen time and time again that when you lead and leave by TRUTH, commitment is there in abundance and is unconditional, because there is a desire to serve and support not only each other, but your organisation and your customers, all at the highest level. The upshot is that sustainable growth and profits are a natural by-product, rather than a forced outcome.

Furthermore, authentic teams recognise when something is not working or could go wrong. They know they have stopped leading and living by their TRUTH… but what makes the core difference is they do something about it in the moment, not after disaster has struck and it’s headline news.

Finally, leading and leaving by TRUTH is a way of doing business and a way of living. All intertwine and all must be present. If one is missing it will impact on your team’s individual performance, collective performance, customer experience and, ultimately, your results.

So let’s briefly explore each of the TRUTH areas in turn.

Trust. How much a customer spends with you directly relates to how much they trust you. It’s the same in teams and organisations. The more a team trusts each other, the more they will do for each other and, as a result, it creates a collaborative and aligned “we” mindset. True trust comes from sharing your vulnerability about how you feel and what is actually going on inside of you with others.

Being truly vulnerable, anywhere in life (especially in business with your colleagues) takes real courage because it involves being open, truly sharing you, how you really think and feel about certain situations, decisions, what you love, what you fear, what you hope for. The challenge is that when you share on this level, you are also sharing all that is needed to hurt you, so it’s no wonder individuals and teams hold themselves back.

When this level of trust exist, teams know they can share without being laughed at, without being undermined or being shouted at and attacked. They feel safe.  As for congruency, such a positive environment inspires, self-motivates and ultimately strengthens your organisation. However, a lot of organisations still rule by fear, which creates scarcity and a survival, “I”-centric mindset.

As for incongruence, such negative environments cause sadness, fear, frustration, demotivation and low morale, all creating a low-performing team, weakening your organisation.

So you can choose to grow your organisation through fear and negativity or happiness and joy – which do you choose?

Responsible. Business decisions are no longer black and white. They are often very grey, and making the wrong decision can have huge negative impact on your brand, reputation, and sales, as we have seen recently with Volkswagen. Teams with an authentic excellence mindset always seek to do the right thing by each other, the organisation and the customer in full awareness of potential rewards are likely consequences for adverse action.

There is a great decision making-framework by Professor Roger Steare called the RIGHT framework. Briefly, when making decisions, seek to understand the governance and legal Rules by which you are expected to operate, behave and run your business; make decisions from a place of Integrity, asking yourself how your decision will honour your personal values and your organisation’s values, consider if you make a chosen decision, who will it be Good for (and list the stakeholders so you have a clear understanding), and then seek to understand who you could Harm (again, list the stakeholders that could be affected); then finally will it build or break trust – I consider this to be the “can I sleep at night?’ test – or, if the situation hit the front page of a national newspaper, would you stand by your decision?

Understand. Seek to understand before being understood and operate from a place of service and servant leadership. Too often in business today, organisations still think they know what the customers want without asking them. Too often managers think they know what is best for their teams without consulting them.

Everyone is different and unique with different needs. What something means to one person could mean something completely different to another. Teams who operate from a place of authentic excellence know this and seek to meet the specific needs of others. Choose to be different. It’s not difficult!

Find out what people need by asking them and then give it to them. If you find that talented people in the organisation are underperforming or leaving, pause for a second and ask yourself why? Realise that people don’t underperform or leave an organisation because they are unhappy; but they underperform or leave because their needs are not being met. Leaders and managers who operate from place of authentic excellence understand this. Today, I invite you to reach out to your teams, ask each person what they need from you as their leader or manager to make their job easier, more productive or effective. It’s unlikely to be what you think.

Talk openly. Most people don’t like conflict and as a result shy away from debate. However, teams that have built trust do not fear debate. They know they can have a healthy and challenging conversation and then go down the pub or to a bar afterwards for a drink together. They leave the debate in the room. They do not hold it against each other; in fact, they may even compliment each other on the discussions and what they learned.


Hold. This is not just about holding each other accountable to agreed targets, actions and goals. The teams with an authentic excellence mindset are very aware that eyes are always on them, that what they don’t do and say is equally as important and often more so, than what they do and say. They are mindful of their own actions and behaviours and how this impacts on the wider team and the organization. They will not walk past poor or inappropriate behaviours. They hold themselves and each other to a higher standard.


So, do your teams leave and lead by the TRUTH? Here are a few things for you to think about as a leader or manager…

* Does the tone from the top resonate throughout your business? If not, what does your leadership behaviour say about you?

* What facets of your culture hinder good decision-making?

* What aspects of your business would you worry about appearing as front page news? Are your customers “raving fans” of your products or services? If not, why not? What else can you do to enhance their experience?

* Do you managers cultivate a culture of belonging? Do they help or hinder employee engagement? Are they role models of management excellence?

If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: the immediate and long-term success of your company is directly linked to the happiness, quality and high performance of your people as individuals and collectively as a team, which is driven by how authentic your people are in your business (and in life). So if happy people means happy returns, what is the one thing that you are going to start doing differently to cultivate a culture of authentic excellence?


Clayton John Ainger – http://www.sareosconsulting.co.uk/

This article is from the flybe. magazine “Flight Time” April – Under the heading: Business / Intel Time.


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