The Platinum Standard
In the 2012 Summer Olympics, the United States men’s basketball team won their second consecutive gold medal under coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K documented the beginning of this journey following the 2008 Olympics in a book entitled The Gold Standard. In the book, Krzyzweski discusses how he defined 14 behaviors that were essential for the team to embrace in order for them to win the gold medal. These behaviors were dubbed the “Gold Standard.” In the process of defining these behaviors, Coach K had former Olympian, professional player and coach Doug Collins speak to the team. Collins challenged the team by defining three types of performers: losers, winners, and champions. The “Gold Standard” was designed to ensure that the United States team would be champions. The “Gold Standard” obviously had its intended impact as the team under Krzyzewski’s leadership had a record of 62 wins and one loss, including two gold medals and one world championship.
Is becoming a champion the highest aspiration for a leader? Is the “Gold Standard” the limit? I would argue that for us leaders there is yet a higher goal. Leadership is not just about our performance—ultimately we will be measured by the performance of those we influence and inspire. Therefore, beyond losers, winners, and champions, there is a higher standard: leaders who develop champions. Those champion builders, like Coach K, have climbed to the highest standard of performance, the “Platinum Standard.”
To become a champion builder, leaders must not only define highest and best behaviors, they must model these behaviors and develop the skill levels of others and empower them to execute those behaviors. “Platinum Standard” leaders understand that everything they see in their organization has either been taught or tolerated. They take responsibility for their culture, their performance and the performance of their team. “Platinum Standard” leaders know that their behavior is the influence that drives the outcomes of the team. Therefore they embrace accountability and hunger for feedback.