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It's late January. Many companies are not done with their annual planning, others are thinking about revising them in the face of market turmoil and lack of clarity on investor sentiment. Founders and CEOs are asking themselves, where should I set the standard? I have done 1,000s of references on le...

It's late January. Many companies are not done with their annual planning, others are thinking about revising them in the face of market turmoil and lack of clarity on investor sentiment. Founders and CEOs are asking themselves, where should I set the standard?

I have done 1,000s of references on leaders with their former reports over the last decade. The leaders who have had the most loyal followings are inevitably demanding. Great people crave high standards, high performing teammates, personal growth, a sense of urgency, and winning. That combination is a deeply satisfying and fun experience. Never have I spoken to a strong startup hire that was grateful to a former leader for shielding them from long-term reality, allowing them to operate within a bound of comfort. Many times, I have talked to someone who said, "this person asked something of me that felt crazy, but we made it happen together, and I am proud and forever grateful to them."

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