High performance is not a natural state. It is an aspiration, a stretch goal that is difficult to sustain.
Pursuit of that status has no finish line, the objective at all times, for those driven to that ideal, is to plan beyond the benchmark.
The measure of high performance as a concept is relative rather than absolute. Personal and competitive forces are at play, at all times. It is - an evolving set of dynamics.
Skills, knowledge, training, mental and physical fitness each play a role. However, there is one driving force which is first among equals, and it is PRIDE.
A positive sense of pride elevates self-belief, ideals and standards. It lifts performance to notable heights.
Pride is an intangible. Its presence is conspicuous. The consequences are palpable.
In business and commerce, pride has a number of key and strategic dimensions, such as:
Employees and team members who feel a sense of pride in working for and with a manager, team leader and supervisor typically exhibit the characteristics of someone who is empowered. They are inclined to be innovative, creative and responsive. Accountability for high performance is readily accepted.
Compromise and indifference are foreign to their frames- of- reference, as they know who they are and what they stand for within their employment setting.
Pride in being associated with a company and its brand is self-motivating. It inspires one in the morning and there is a wish to get to work. Indeed, there is no drive to contemplate or wish to working for any alternative employer.
Reliability and engagement are qualities appreciated by employers and customers alike.
A measure of pride in promoting, selling and servicing a product or products and to service these is usually reflected in enthusiasm for the marketing and recommendations of those units.
High performance measures are evidenced in sales volume, profit margins and customer satisfaction. It quantifies the advantages and benefits for all stakeholders and participants in the relationships. Those interactions also tend to persist and are both reinforced and complemented by personal recommendations and endorsements.
Commitment to a quality brand is a cornerstone of consistent and persistent service excellence. Non-varying service standards ensure consumers appreciate the innate value of high performance standards before, at the time of and after the purchase decision.
It's enough to make buyers proud of the decision they have made.
Cohesive integrated teams, whose members pursue, achieve and sustain high performance levels invariably reflect discerning and demanding recruitment and induction philosophies and practices.
Leaders who look for high performers are sensitive to the needs for and benefits of documenting detailed job descriptions, complemented by specific job specifications.
The former outline the range of duties and skill-sets involved in and required for the position. In the latter statement insights are provided on the human qualities that are essential to maintain the standards sought, if not demanded.
Recent examples abound with national cricket teams in which certain elite high performing individuals were a toxic, destabilising influence in team cohesion and performance.
The lessons learnt are that individual high performances in isolation are to the detriment of the team, produce losers, losses and disenchantment among followers. There are few fans of high performers who do not play for and contribute positively to consistent high performances of the team.
Sir Donald Bradman was, to many, an immortal cricketer. He was a persistently high performer which is reflected in his unparalleled Test match batting average of 99.94 runs.
“The Don” was forever aware of - and repeatedly stated - that he was playing for Australia. Pride in wearing the “baggy green” cap transcends eras, generations and teams.
The recent on-field performances of the World Cup champion Kangaroos Rugby League team is explanation enough to comprehend and appreciate the value of pride in the high performance expectations and delivery of a great team.
Similarly, the New Zealand “All Blacks” enjoy an enviable record of high achievement. Each player, who proudly wears their jumper, is known as an All Black for life. They take the distinction to the grave for it is only they who on their headstones can declare “He was an All Black”. Imagine if you will, the high performances in another place of the game that is played in heaven.
The contrast in the ambience and atmosphere within those companies, and among those employees, who are not imbued with a sense of pride is striking.
Apathy, disinterest and disconnection prevail. An absence of enthusiasm, excitement and pride is evident, and is reflected in poor sales, marginal profits and low customer satisfaction.
Rationalisation about, and justifications of sub-optimal performance records are common. The blame- game is often centred on a distracting focus on extreme factors- the economy, the national currency and, competitor discounting.
External forces are best countered by internal initiatives. Pride comes from within.
Successful business leaders are often asked, interviewed and reported upon with questions about what they believe is leadership. Predictably, the answers are many and varied.
A good start for all current and aspiring leaders will be to inspire within each person a sense of pride about the company, the fellow team-members, the product and the services provided. That will be a stepping stone to the attainment and maintenance of high performance.
In the current vexing and challenging economies and marketplaces some things stand above and apart from all countervailing forces. The most noticeable of these is high performance, underpinned by a widespread sense of pride.