Ask any executive what type of organization he wants to lead, and somewhere in that answer he will communicate that he wants to lead an organization of effective leaders where accountability, communication and performance are valued and where his vision can be realized and strategic outcomes will be achieved.
He will likely also add that he wants to surround himself with leaders and high performers who deliver results.  Most of us want this. We want to create high-performance cultures where employees can do their best work, consistently produce outstanding results and are committed to organizational success.
I spend a lot of time working with organizations and teams on culture, strategy and performance. When strategic outcomes are achieved, it is due to several factors including effective leadership, transparency, highly developed and effective teams and performance accountability.
Whether we are talking about leadership, management or employee deliverables, high performance and effectiveness are paramount to success. Why? Because the most important competitive advantage that any organization has is the quality of its talent – the people that run the show, make the decisions, come up with the ideas, design the products and deliver the services.
These people – particularly the ones who do it best – represent an organization’s true sustainable competitive advantage. The high performers make the difference!
High performers don’t only care about their individual production and service levels, they care about elevating and contributing to the success of the entire team and organization.
High performers consistently produce outstanding results while remaining dedicated to organizational success.  They are the individual contributors and leaders of teams who remain laser focused on strategy and goal accomplishment while also seeking out opportunities to support and uplift other team members.

Here are five (5) things that high performers (and leaders) do exceptionally well.

1. Focus on Strengths

  • High performers offer praise over punishment and focus on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
  • They pay attention to skills and make alignments with organizational strategy and employee talent. The focus is placed on what we can do rather than what we can’t, and the strength of the team lies in its core competencies and recognition for the contributions of individual team members. Hiring, promotion, and performance management decisions are made primarily with a focus on individual strengths and value added for sustaining a high-performance culture.
  • High performers find and create informal and formal moments to highlight and recognize the strengths and accomplishments of others and will make connections for how said strengths or accomplishments are helping to advance organizational or departmental goals. These leaders are always developing and focusing themselves and their team members for product and service delivery that will make everyone look good.
  • While high performers do take the time to receive and/or provide learning and development opportunities to address weaknesses, they don’t spend an inordinate amount time on it, and they don’t bother with improving weaknesses that have no bearing on strategy and goal accomplishment. Weaknesses are addressed only to the extent that improvement will enhance organizational strategy and performance or contribute to a culture of accountability.

2. Remain Accountable

  • High performers are willing to hold themselves and others accountable for success and failure. They have a keen ability to see through the garbage – the time and money wasters – and get to the core issues, and they also just see failure differently than most.  Failure becomes about not trying at all – not putting up the effort or initiative – rather than trying something worthy and failing or missing the mark.
  • High performers own their power to affect change and influence the culture.  They intentionally seek out opportunities to create and apply systems and processes that will advance a culture of accountability and decentralize decision making where possible.
  • These are the people who more readily admit mistakes and make corrections quickly so as to minimize resource and time waste.  They won’t continue doing something that doesn’t produce the desired results simply because they can’t admit a mistake, accept a new way of doing things, or let go of what’s comfortable.

3. Engage Others in Solutions

  • High performers seek out solutions, give credit, minimize chaos, and help colleagues achieve results.
  • If you work with a high performer, you are going to have someone open to creative ideas and focused on the “best” solution regardless of where it comes from. They don’t come in the door with a concrete plan all the time because they are open to ascertain viable solutions from other team members and give credit accordingly.
  • When confusion and chaos rear their ugly heads, high performers are able to refocus energies and thinking so as to keep focused on the key priorities and directs themselves and their teams to performance strategies.
  • These people focus on solutions to problems and work to improve processes and resolve intervening policy conflicts.  High performers demonstrate an ability to focus on the sum rather than just the individual parts, and they apply a systems-thinking approach to organizational effectiveness.

4. Emphasize Behavior and Actions over Results

  • High performers hold themselves and others accountable not only for results but the methods to achieve those results. The end does not necessarily justify the means with these people.  How something is achieved is just as important and what gets achieved.
  • High performers are not so focused on results that they support or demonstrate underhanded or unethical behaviors to achieve those results. The methods used and behaviors exhibited matter just as much, if not more, to high performers as the results they deliver. High performers care about productivity and want to achieve results within deadlines and budgets but not at the expense of undermining integrity, professional standards for behavior or resorting to unethical or illegal actions.
  • Integrity, professionalism, respect, ethics and team values trump results with these people, and they will work to create an organizational culture that supports these qualities and behaviors.

5. Willing to Change Course and Thinking

  • High performers want to perform; they want their teams to perform and deliver intended results. As such, they don’t get married to any particular model, methodology or process and are regularly assessing current practices against strategic goals. When there are better models, methods and processes, the high performer will use them or create it and will work to convince others why the change is necessary.
  • If something goes awry, high performers don’t let it fester and lead to further problems or unnecessarily inhibit productivity. They step up, take responsibility, process what happened and solicit ideas for improvement. They are not busy deflecting responsibility and ascribing blame to others (throwing others under the bus).
  • High performers are often times also good leaders because they understand the importance of influencing and persuading others on a particular path and learn how to do this even when they lack formal authority of a position title. They aim to achieve organizational goals and realize the strategy and will create, apply or influence others to this aim where and when possible.  So not only do they work to keep an open mind, they work to help others do the same.

You tell me –

  • Are you a high performer?
  • How do you know this?
  • Do you elevate and advance team and organizational goals?

Terina Allen
CEO, ARVis Institute
International Speaker | Strategist | Management Consultant | Educator | Author

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