A VP at Chic-fil-A on Positive Environments

High performance

Dripping-faucet-leaders irritate with constant tweaks and suggestions. Your team wants you to shut-up and leave them alone.

Additionally, honest leaders build negative environments by constantly fixing and improving.

The dark side of pursuing excellence is nitpicking.

Perfection-seekers are nitpickers.


  1. Shows attention to detail.
  2. Is different from being particular.
  3. Unhelpful, nagging self-doubt.
  4. Micromanaging.
  5. Contagious.
  6. Bullying.
  7. Misses the real issue.
  8. Typical for a weak link.
  9. Negative and unproductive.
  10. Is a label used by people who miss critical details.

More useful and humorous contributions on Facebook.

The problem of talent and skill:

Mark Miller, VP at Chic-fil-A and author of, The Secret of Teams, believes focusing on talent and skills apart from the critical third element builds negative environments.

“There are three critical ingredients for high performance,

  1. Talent.
  2. Skills.
  3. Community.”

Mark believes negative environments emerge when leaders focus on talent and skills but neglect community. His book  includes suggestions and illustrations of community building.

Don’t spend all your time focusing on performance. Focus on community, too. Chic-fil-A begins meetings with “family time,” for example. If that sounds weird, you’re pursuit of excellence may create negative environments.

When continuous improvement goes too far:

“If you scored a 97% on the test you don’t need to fixate on 100%.” Mark Miller.

Mark said positive environments include:

  1. Focusing on what went well.
  2. Talking about what worked.
  3. Asking, “Who went above and beyond?”
  4. Reinvention. “What might we do differently next time?”

Lousy leaders pursue excellence but
don’t celebrate progress or build community.

The sustained pursuit of excellence requires community building. Caring community takes talent and skill further, faster.

How can leaders pursue excellence and build family environments at the same time?

Connect with Mark: @LeadersServe

Free chapter of The Secret of Teams.

Added resources:

Mark Miller in his own words. (3 min.)

How Zappos builds happy work environments.