12 Steps to Excellence: How to Build a Great Team

C. David Crouch

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 190 Price: (paperback) $13.99 ISBN: 9781532083310 Reviewed: May, 2020 Author Website: Visit »

Corporate consultant C. David Crouch, who calls himself an “excellentologist,” has written a concise, well-organized book to help leaders build frameworks of excellence within their teams and organizations. Each chapter features a single step and ends with a summary and action plan.

In Steps 1-5, Crouch creates a theoretical foundation for excellence beginning with language – he advises replacing all negative language with positive words – and including a full page of synonyms for “excellence.” He guides readers through the process of defining excellence for their teams by creating mission and vision statements, identifying corporate principles and examining what quality should mean for their workplaces.

Steps 6-9 are the book’s most readable chapters because Crouch focuses on the tangible: taking care of customers, engaging employees and staying within a reasonable budget. Crouch offers personal anecdotes, including one about a clothing store owner who personally delivered an altered blue blazer to his home on a Saturday evening so he could take it on an early morning business trip the next day. Crouch says he’s told that story many times as an example of excellent service.

However, Crouch sometimes seems to contradict his own advice. While he says building a great team “requires the leader to develop a relationship with each team member” and describes how to be kind and tactful when pointing out employees’ performance problems, he later veers into name-calling. For example, in Step 12, he divides every workforce into Drivers (high achievers), Doers (producers of reliable, good work) and Draggers, “troublemakers” who “make life miserable for everyone around them.”

Steps 10-12 wander from Crouch’s conversational language into charts and statistics. While more difficult to absorb, much of this is hard information an aspiring “excellentologist” eventually will need.

While 12 Steps to Excellence would benefit from more examples of how various teams performed before and after following its path, the book offers a fresh, mostly people-oriented outlook on the essence of leadership.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

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