Just read the article “Please make yourself uncomfortable” from Ken Norton where Frank Barrett captures one essential aspect of leadership in this quote:

“The goal is the opposite of conformity: a leader’s job is to create the discrepancy and dissonance that trigger people to move away from habitual positions and repetitive patterns.”

Well, the article it is not purely about leadership, it talks about product management and jazz and how making innovative products requires the ability to surrender to the unknown, to follow the music wherever that goes. Tt’s a recommended reading (together with this letter from Slack CEO).

But this article made me reflect again on mediocrity and leadership. Mediocrity can arise in many forms: managers remaining silent or providing optimistic or filtered information (check Nokia case), employees evaluated subjectively, relaxed accountability (for them and for their employees) or managers playing it safe and shooting for staying under the radar.

Rise the bar since day 0. Kick your hiring standards up a notch and don’t settle for less. And continue doing it every single day, restlessly. That should be the norm and it should be defended regularly and vigilantly.