I read this article (http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2011/10/america_excelling_at_mediocrit.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date) that is specifically around the US and how mediocrity in comparison to some other countries is seemingly the order of the day. Although I do not buy that to the tee, what I do say is that there is a sense of "just getting by" in the world today that tends to be a rampant infectious disease that is creeping up at various levels.
I read yet another article a few months ago in HBR (Harvard Business Review - forgive me, I do not have the URL for the original) that spoke of how one leader/executive could not move ahead in her organization as she was considered to be a disruptor, a pusher, a go getter and sometimes did so to her peril. Her colleagues, her staff, etc. were so disenfranchised that the solution she was provided was to tone her capabilities down. She was passed up for vertical movements within the organization as she was seen as a lone ranger. Once again, although I do not agree with the tenets of the argument, i.e. be overly successful and disconnect with your team, I do concur with the thought that leadership needs to engender a culture of creativity, innovation, dare I say drive to achieve more than the norm.
As the first around mediocrity states, there is a sense of "just enough" around us; I would suggest that the corporate culture of push push push may have gotten a bit softer in this new era. I do find that with the advent of social media and this new focus towards social collusion, both private and corporate, there is a refocus in employee priorities and the penetration of the social dynamic is an important factor in the being of people today.
I would argue that whether we call it mediocrity, whether we strive for excellence, whether we want a refocus, whatever or however we phrase it, the growth phenomenon needs to be instilled within the corporate setting. All the Google'isms aside, whether it is a 80/20 focus on efficiency or a blend of corporate and social cultures, a highly caffeinated boost to our corporate micro-economies are required if we hope to make a dent on what I suggest is perhaps the key to a succeeding failure.
Corporations have been toying with new mechanisms to reengage their employees, and one of the common themes we continue to forget is that, the monetary and non-monetary methodologies we have used for decades still have some meaning left in them. The simplest options sometimes are the quickest ones with the most results. All the buzz words and the new age paradigms aside, people fundamentally want to enter a workplace they can work in, grow and perhaps earn some recognition while doing so. Nurturing this ideology while understanding that not everyone fits this mold, will perhaps get us further quicker and easier than all the techniques, self-help books would teach us.
Leadership, some say is a burden, I say its a privilege and to earn this privilege requires strength, creativity, innovation and a blend of caffeinated zen that allows for the creation & management of incremental growth within a state of calm. The challenge in this dictum is to ensure you not only do this, but to remain sustainable, engender it within your team; not recruit it, but engender it.