Spark #

Leading for Proficiency

In this Spark, you'll understand how leaders can inspire peak performance through a shared narrative and clear priorities. “What were they really about? What did they stand for? Who came first?

Spark #
Leading for Proficiency
What We're Talking About

The principle we're discussing

Successful groups have leaders who provide them with intent and purpose. These leaders are also “culture broadcasters” who name and underscore key priorities shared within a group, as well as behaviors that lead to growth and breakthroughs.

Danny Meyer

Restaurateur Danny Meyer is a great example of this kind of leader (fun fact: Meyer is the founder of Shake Shack). Both customers and employees say his restaurants feel like home. Meyer created this kind of environment by fine-tuning the behaviors and interactions he wanted to see at his restaurants, specifically after an upsetting incident with a disgruntled guest. 

These behaviors were shared and understood through pithy maxims like “read the guest” or “turn up the home dial.” Viewed holistically, these phrases create a “larger conceptual framework that connects with the group’s identity and core message: We take care of people.”

Why it Matters

Why this principle is important and matters to you

It’s easy to become siloed or single-minded when you’re part of a group. It can be difficult to connect with your team through a shared narrative that conveys a larger goal. 

Successful leaders like Meyer are able to create this kind of narrative and foster engagement. Meyer inspired peak performance at his restaurants through a clear set of priorities and memorable catch phrases that were a beacon for his employees, leading them to excellence. This approach to leadership is referred to as “the lighthouse method,” generating clear signals that link the team from where they are to where they want to go.

Hear Meyer speak about how shared language is critical to creating culture:

How You Can Use It

This provides practical ways to apply learnings from this Spark

Every group must not only survive, but thrive, if they want to find success in competitive fields. Leaders of high-proficiency groups flood their environment with stated priorities and keystone behaviors that perfectly encapsulate the group’s goals and purpose.


  1. Make sure you’ve clearly defined your priorities, as well as the kinds of behaviors and interactions you want to see in your team.
  2. Create a list of responses for potential mistakes.
  3. Continually iterate on a shared language between team members.

An opportunity to reflect on yourself and/or your team and how you can apply these insights

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