Mediocrity is a disease with debilitating effects on teams and organizations. The recipe for mediocrity includes playing it safe, avoiding commitment, and holding low standards. Instead of rising to a challenge, team members who stand for mediocrity become paralyzed by the fear of failure. Success is never as sweet as is avoiding defeat.
Over time, team leaders who tolerate this mentality inevitably allow teams to presume the absence of failure as a sign of success. This is the very definition of mediocrity. Allowing the team to see the absence of failure as success compounds the problem, further reinforcing mediocrity as the team flag.
Confronting mediocrity begins with leaders asking others to clearly define what counts as success before work begins on a project or initiative. This is the time when a leader can insist on higher standards. Once standards are set, the team can game plan on how to meet these standards. Better yet, the team leader can use the standards to judge execution quality as the project unfolds. Imposing higher standards after the fact actually encourages mediocrity, as it emphasizes the failure and defeat that mediocre teams find so distasteful. Challenge mediocrity where it lives — with what counts as success to begin with.