What’s your Passion #54 – Manager – Pursuing Excellence

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Has the pursuit of personal excellence faded in Agile circles due to the shift in focus to the performance of the team?

Managers need to model the behavior. If a manager is not pursuing excellence, it will be tough to expect that the team will do that on their own. It’s walking-the-talk and not just talking-the-talk that counts for this topic.

My observation is that I would rather have a team with competent performers and a clear, concise Vision rather than a team of superstars with no Vision (and an abundance of clashing egos).

What really motivates people?

It can be pretty much guaranteed that if your employer stops paying you, then you will probably stop showing up to work. Additionally, if no one is listening to your advice or potential improvements to the team, then you’re probably going to update your resume/CV and begin the search for a new role.

Most people have a strong desire to contribute to the success of the team and organization. Your ability to add value to the team is directly tied to your personal pursuit of excellence:

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No one void of passion, or with little care for the quality or excellence of their work, will be able to add much value to any team. As Jim Colins pointed out in his book, “Good to Great,” you need to make sure that the right people are on the bus and the wrong people are transferred to another bus.

My observation is that individuals that have a well-defined, “white-hot passion” (their individual Vision and “one thing”) will deliver value far above the financial investment that the company has made in them, even if they are not superstars.

In the image above, I have also included the “Aha! Curve” as a small inset since this picture is a modified version of that mindset (those familiar with the Flow Leadership Framework and Mindset will quickly see the link between the two).

It will be tough to have an excellent team if no one on that team is pursuing excellence. So, it is useful to revisit Daniel Pink’s video on Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose (and what motivates us) since that ties rather well into this conversation:

It’s interesting that financial reward isn’t the incentive we think it is when looking at tasks that require even the most rudimentary of cognitive skill. So, other factors (like autonomy, mastery and purpose) weigh-in heavier as incentives.

When we look at this from a life-long learning perspective, mastery is good, but the pursuit of excellence is better. A pursuit is a continuous journey of improvement and learning while mastery gives the feeling of being a one-time, one-off event (somewhat akin to putting a checkmark in the box on a to-do list).

For autonomy, this is some of what I took away from this video:

  • “Autonomy” is essential to the team’s belief that their leadership has both Faith and Trust in them to get the job done!

Well said. And, if either of those are absent in a culture, then don’t expect remarkable results to occur. In Flow, “faith” is a belief in the “future” state and it is driven by Culture:

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This begins with understanding that faith is the substance of things hoped-for (Vision) as well as the evidence of things not seen (Anticipatory Vision’s ability to “see” future facts).

And, trust is not the same as faith.

What separates faith from trust is that Trust is:

  • Earned
  • The result of sustained success(es)
  • A two-way street

Few people will continue to work for an organization in which they do not trust. And, few organizations can afford to employ people in which they have no trust. Life is way too short to not pursue excellence.

Want to learn more about how Flow will assist you in your journey to excellence?
Then let’s chat!


In these five (5) blog posts (numbers 51 through 55) we explore the five areas outlined in the “Manager-Agile-Flow” image above – here are the link-backs to each one:


For those that are not familiar with the Flow Leadership Framework & Mindset, it is what’s next for businesses and organizations that are ready to succeed regardless of the methods, frameworks or management tools that they use throughout their enterprise. Flow is methodology agnostic.

Are you ‘in the zone’ of optimal performance right now as a person, team or enterprise? Did you get there by accident or by focused intentional acts?

“Flow” gives you the way of working and mindset needed to create and maintain an optimal state of high performance as an individual, team or organization.

The Flow Leadership Framework turbocharges everything you do, including “business agile” leadership and Scaled Agile.


PS Here are the associated links to this blog post for:

#culture #scrum #agile #pmi #pmp #kanban #lean #flow #scaledagile #transformation #change #transform