The Extra Mile

The Extra Mile

Posted by in Leadership

In ancient Rome a centurion could command those who were not Roman citizens to carry their equipment for a mile. Generally the conquered citizens resented the forced labour, but first century Christians began a tradition of “going the extra mile”. Not only would they do what they were required by law to do… but they would do more… by choice.

Two millennia later the principle of going the extra mile is still a powerful philosophy in life and leadership. No wonder Wayne Dyer observed, “It’s never crowded on the extra mile”. It’s a rarer breed who are willing to go beyond what is required, but that’s what world-class leaders are made of.

I’m sure you’ve discovered that mediocrity is the most crowded marketplace of all. It’s what Kim & Mauborgne refer to as the “red ocean” of competition and overcrowding in their breakthrough book Blue Ocean Strategy.

These days business leaders often speak about “delivering on expectations” as if it’s a worthy benchmark of some sort. That roughly translates “doing what we said we would do”. Is it just me, or does that sound more like base camp than an actual goal?

Delivering on expectations is about integrity not excellence, so if you can distinguish yourself from your competition just by acting with integrity, it might be time to think about working in a different industry.

The extra mile is about the stretch. It’s about doing the unexpected (delivering on UNexpectations). It’s about customers who are surprised not just satisfied.

  • So what does the extra mile look like for you?
  • In what ways could you go beyond expectations and leave a lasting, positive impression?
  • Does your organisational culture reward or punish (even subtly) team members who go above and beyond their duty for your clients?

Put some space between you and your competition. A mile would be a good start.

I’d love to hear your comments and feel free to use the links below to share this article with others
Paul Andrew is Founder of The Leadership Coach™
He is a Keynote Speaker and Management Consultant based in New York

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6 Responses to “The Extra Mile”

  1. Gail

    11. Jun, 2012

    Go the extra mile – as long as it’s not on the backs of, or to the distress of, your staff. If you’re going to go the extra mile make sure you prepare and resource properly because flaking out just before the second mile may look worse than not promising it in the first place.

    As someone once said “Always treat your staff the same way you want them to treat your best customer.”

  2. Jennifer Anne Greyling

    11. Jun, 2012

    Paul thank you for being exceptional.. you are right at the top with Brian T, John M, Bob P… when something from your desk pass this computer.. it’s read, utilized and appreciated!!

  3. Claire

    12. Jun, 2012

    Paul, I agree that the extra mile is about integrity. In some organisations it is not rewarded and to some extent when a person does do so other staff indulge in a version of the tall poppy syndrome.

    In my experience it is more prevalent in government departments where people on the same wage level don’t get any external benefit for the extra mile. That’s were integrity comes into it and the personal satisfaction gained from doing a great job.

    I don’t deal with any business where they couldn’t be bothered even if their prices/services are cheaper.

    Great post – Thank you

  4. Paul Andrew

    12. Jun, 2012

    Thanks Jennifer.. glad you’re getting value from these posts!

  5. Samson

    27. Dec, 2012

    That was great
    An extra mile is the right attitude of leaders who are going places

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