Mike Holmes on the Essential Criteria for Success


Last summer, my family and I got hooked on a new home improvement competition television series called Home Free. I don’t typically enjoy the HGTV-type, renovation shows; however, this one is different. Home Free is more than about picking a high-quality, yet affordable kitchen backsplash. It has a prominent message that can benefit all leaders and organizations.

Hosted by famed construction expert Mike Holmes, Home Free features nine couples who share the dream of home ownership. Each couple has a heartbreaking story to illustrate why they are deserving—job loss, health issues, etc—as they compete each week to renovate a dilapidated home. At the end of the week, the couple with the worst handiwork is eliminated until the final two teams compete for their dream home.

It may seem cruel to kick off people with such sad, personal stories. However, as a viewer, it is nice to know that unbeknownst to the contestants, when the bus drives away with the remaining couples, the eliminated couple is awarded the home that they just refurbished. As you can imagine, it is quite a tearjerker.

For our leadership lesson, we could discuss the uplifting positivity of the show or the competitive nature of the contestants, but I’d rather focus on the criteria that determine who stays and who is sent home. Each week, Mike Holmes reminds us that the contestants are being judged on quality, creativity and teamwork, as well as their ability to keep themselves and those around them safe.

These three criteria set the standard for the work site. Quality involves the technical skills, creativity is the ability to learn and apply new information, and teamwork shows that the culture is based on collaboration and fellowship. According to Holmes’ standards, you will not be successful with just one; it takes a balance amongst all three.

What are the criteria to be successful in your workplace? If it is not quality, creativity and teamwork (which seem universally applicable), can you sum yours up in a few simple words? If not, you need to. This is the best way to ensure that everyone is aware of the exceptions, understands your values, and can be held accountable to live out your vision. Make your criteria a part of the organization’s vernacular and, as Holmes says, “Keep making it right.”

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