Excellence in Leadership

Aristotle once said. "We are what we repeatedly do . . . Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

If I post this question to you "Why are you working so hard in learning all things about your domain? What do you want to achieve in your domain?"

Most of you will say "I want to achieve Excellence in my area. That’s why I am putting so much effort."


Yes. Everyone wants to achieve Excellence. Everyone feels ultimate fulfillment of performing an activity is achieving Excellence in that. Can I say "Excellence is th ultimate Goal? No. Excellence is a “way of life,” a “way of being” – not a steady state to be “achieved.”

What do Excellence mean?

Excellence is a talent or quality which is unusually good and so surpasses ordinary standards. It is also used as a standard of performance.[1]

How to achieve excellence?

Studies have shown that the most important way to achieve excellent performance in fields such as sport, music, professions and scholarship is to practice. Achievement of excellence in such fields commonly requires approximately 10 years of dedication, comprising about 10,000 hours of effort.

But in the contrary, asked how long it took to achieve Excellence, IBM’s legendary boss Tom Watson is said to have answered more or less as follows: “A minute. You ‘achieve’ Excellence by promising yourself right now that you’ll never again knowingly do anything that’s not Excellent – regardless of any pressure to do otherwise by any boss or situation.” [3]

Here is the straight forward crispier quotes on Excellence

Excellence can be obtained if you:
"…care more than others think is wise;
…risk more than others think is safe;
…dream more than others think is practical;
…expect more than others think is possible.”

                                        – Claude Bissell

"When the country is in kiosk, everyone has a plan to fix it, but it takes a leader of real understanding to straighten things out" [4]. Because Leaders possess Excellence – talent in understanding the problem & provides solution that brings out a country from the issues. Leaders have vision – they dream more than others think is practical.

Success is a by-product of Excellence, not the means to its own end. So.. Pursue Excellence.. Ignore Success.


1. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excellence

2. The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE – Tom Peters (2012)

3. The road to excellence: the acquisition of expert performance in the arts and sciences, sports, tacos and games – Karl Anders Ericsson (1996)

4. John Maxwell Law of Leadership Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70skQqbGtPs