For decades, conventional wisdom has told us that there is something special about high performers - they are somehow unique, especially talented or smart. Conventional wisdom is wrong. There is no recipe for high performance there is only ‘fit’.
The more an individual’s natural strengths, characteristics, skill set and values fit with what is required in the role and fit with the organisation itself the higher the performance will be. And even better, while there may be thousands of ways that a person can fit into a particular role or organisation there is only three areas you need to look at in order to consciously orchestrate fit and achieve the type of consistent high performance that has, so far at least, been an elusive pipe dream.
Star performance is not so much about what you do – which incidentally is what almost all performance improvement programs focus on – but how you do what you do, why you do what you do and where you do what you do. In fact the only important consideration regarding what you do is what you do to screw things up!
The reason high performance is so mysterious and inconsistent for so many people is because we are almost solely focused on improving behaviour or the skills, knowledge and experience that an individual brings to a sports or corporate team. We are so busy looking ‘outside’ for the magic bullet that we fail to look ‘inside’ and completely dismiss the impact of personality on performance.
The Missing Key
Of course the reason we dismiss personality is because it’s considered prime fodder for the ‘too hard basket’. When we look at individuals we see a seemingly infinite array of complex and unpredictable thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Two people could do the exact same thing and get very different results. People can be notoriously confusing and fickle - putting in a blistering performance one minute and mediocre the next. The contradictions and apparent randomness is too daunting so no one wants to touch personality or if they do they simply don't dig deeply enough into the wiring or personality of the individual. However if we go further than the superficial and seek to identify the unique wiring we can very quickly uncover and understand the process that an individual uses time and time again to deliver results. And when we do a great deal of that overwhelming randomness disappears and predictable consistent process emerges from the chaos. When we understand our innate patterns of behaviour and they are no longer confusing it finally becomes possible to ‘turn on’ performance. Even if we find ourselves in a role or organisation we don’t fit into naturally, this knowledge will allow us to orchestrate and implement simple, practical bespoke solutions that can radically improve performance almost immediately. And major life altering change is rarely required.
Three ‘Fit’ Secrets
All you need to know to unlock high performance in yourself and others is what you do when left to your own devices - so your natural, instinctive behaviours (1) The motives, values and preferences that are ultimately driving those behaviours (2) And what you will consistently do to derail your performance - especially under pressure (3) Once you know these things about yourself you can ensure that you find the right ‘fit’ between those insights and the role you have and the organisation or team you are a part of.
There is not ONE single approach to high performance in anything that works for everyone. But there is one single framework that when understood and applied will facilitate high performance in anything, and it works for everyone.
If you want to improve your performance you need to look beyond the convenient solutions and traditional approaches. You need to appreciate your favoured patterns of behaviour and foster enough behavioural flexibility to deploy the right behaviour in the right place and deploy your own unique brand of high performance. So forget about the latest system or process ‘out there’ - instead unpack some fundamental realities about your personality including your intrinsic motivation or purpose, your favoured patterns of behaviour for meeting those needs and how you sabotage yourself under pressure. Once you do, you can finally take charge or your performance, success and happiness by ensuring FIT!
Author: Warren Kennaugh
Adapted from FIT: When talent and intelligence just won’t cut it.
Warren Kennaugh is a Behavioural Strategist who works with elite corporate leaders, gifted professional athletes and world leading teams. He is a speaker, researcher and consultant who is the author of FIT: When Talent and Intelligence Just Won’t Cut It (Wiley). See why the elite work with him at www.warrenkennaugh.com or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org