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One Percent a Day
When it comes to achieving major objectives, I see leaders consistently make this mistake. They massively overestimate what can be done in the short term and wildly underestimate what can be done in the long term. This creates a whipsaw effect. In the short term, unrealistic expectations thwart progress and crush morale. At the same time, the planning, effort, resources, and energy that could have been applied to a more sustained approach are at least partially lost, and the results don’t materialize.
How can you shift your thinking around short-term goals and see greater long-term improvements? I’d suggest that it’s by thinking about driving results and progress by 1% a day. This approach is called the aggregation of marginal gains – a strategy that says tiny improvements applied consistently in many areas can produce big results. A mentor previously shared this with me, but the concept was popularized by the director of British Cycling, Sir Dave Brailsford. He theorized that if you took all aspects of cycling and worked to improve each by 1%, your overall performance would significantly improve. Think of it like compound interest – 1% a day adds up. It worked for his cycling team as they went from perennial mediocrity to Olympic Gold medals and Tour de France victories.
Need to improve your offerings to clients? Want to create new capabilities for your business? Trying to develop your team or yourself? Consider the small, incremental gains that you can make daily, even weekly.
Executives create vision and set long-term goals. So, if you inspire each team member to take an element of the work to be done and improve by 1% a day, the cumulative benefits can be huge for your business and results.
High Standards Drive Results
Being results driven is one of the most valuable assets of a leader. It’s what allows you to push through plateaus, level up, and achieve the most ambitious goals. But too often, leaders make the mistake of driving results by just pushing their team harder or demanding that results improve. It’s more nuanced than that. You must simultaneously elevate expectations and provide the necessary support and direct communication to your team.
  • Raise the expectations set for team members. Paint a vivid picture of what high performance might look like and help them see why it is important, how it matters to the organization, and why it should matter to them. Clearly explain the milestones that they need to hit to take their work to the next level. Make sure there is a complete understanding of what is expected, how they will get there, and that they will be held accountable.
  • Improve how you support and communicate expectations. Some companies have high standards and expectations stated in posters and PowerPoints but stop there. They miss the mark by not intentionally integrating communication of expectations and the necessary support into their work. Being direct is critical when communicating expectations (this doesn’t equate to being mean). Speak to your team members with professionalism, care, and understanding. Then, provide them the support they need to succeed so you aren’t setting them up to fail.
Elevating team performance is about fostering motivation and clear expectations at each level of the organization.
Current Read
As leaders, it’s important to be real and authentic with our teams. Being overly positive can be just as unhelpful as being too negative. Of course, there is a balance that needs to occur between acknowledging real issues and not completely demoralizing your team. But a fake smile and overly positive attitude should not be the goal.
Yet, our society has a strong tendency to push positivity into all aspects of our lives. No matter what is going on that might make us feel sad, frustrated, or angry, there is an underlying pressure to just “be happy”. But this prevents you from embracing reality and accepting all ranges of emotions you may feel. Susan David, a psychologist and author of the book “Emotional Agility,” recently wrote about the tyranny of positivity in an article in Neuropysch.
She discusses the importance of people developing the skills needed to manage their emotions when challenging times arise (instead of covering them with happiness) to make room for authentic expression and strengthened resilience. Leaders need to be real, and acknowledging the tyranny of positivity frees us to consider how to effectively integrate authentic emotions into our lives and work.

Edinger Consulting