From performance reviews to a high-performance culture, the word ‘performance’ gets a lot of use in the corporate world. But like many such terms, it seems to mean different things to different people.
For some it is purely a gauge of productivity and output, whilst for others they see it as a measure of efficiency.
At Tailored Fit, we have spent 6 years developing multi-faceted strategies to help executives to maximise their performance. So, let look at precisely what we mean when we talk about high-performance and the factors that underpin it.
Physical and mental energy are key factors in high performance. Without sustainable energy reserves, whatever skills executives may have will deplete across the working day, week, or even between each period of annual leave. Being a high performer means bringing your best to the table as often as possible.
Unfortunately, many execs chisel away at their energy reserves by eating the wrong food, getting too little sleep, working too many hours and having a poor work/life balance. Short periods of imbalance can be managed (however even such short periods will affect performance), but long term it will massively hinder performance.
You could fill a library with books on time management; I’m not going to claim to be an expert on the subject. With tactics from the Eisenhower method to the Pomodoro method; everyone has a strategy on being effective with their time. Whatever technique you adopt, it is a crucial skill that implicitly crosses-over into the previously mentioned factor of high-energy.
When time is not well utilised, work spills over into time that should be dedicated to looking after your mental, physical and nutritional health as well as your time to de-stress and sleep. I often cite the well know proverb of Parkinson's Law, that a task will always fill the allotted time. If time isn’t allocated for the tasks that will keep you operating at your best then work will invariably eat into that time and reduce overall effectiveness.
Clarity of thought
The ability to think clearly and fully utilise your cognitive and creative functions are key to high performance. Rational and intelligent decision-making is a signature of business leaders. This needs to be carried throughout the working day, week, month and year. If first thing in the morning, mid-afternoon, on Fridays (or just before your summer holiday!) you can’t think clearly; you are no longer high-performing.
Clarity of thought is interdependent on other factors such as high energy; when energy starts flagging so will clarity of thought. If time management is not effective, work can pile up thereby increasing stress and reducing cognitive ability and vice versa. The right foods, sufficient sleep as well as other methods of balancing stress are key to keeping cognitive ability high.
Often closely linked with mental clarity, emotional intelligence facilitates executives to be highly effective. Emotional intelligence is the ability to control your own emotions and stress, alongside the socioemotional awareness of others allows for calm and empathetic leadership.
The ability to lead a team via respect and inspiration (rather than fear) hinges on emotional intelligence. High performers keep themselves in a physical and mental state that means they can regulate emotions and keep an elevated level of self-awareness.
This is regularly overlooked in the corporate world, but physical fitness has a massive carryover into high-performance. Executives don’t need to be sports athletes, but the health benefits from being in good physical shape carry over into all the other factors of high-performance.
Physical energy is massively increased in an individual with good body composition, a high density of energy centres in the cells and good blood flow. This affects time management, clarity of thought and emotional intelligence as low energy will reduce the efficacy of all other abilities.
True high performance requires all of these abilities. If one is missing, then your performance is not high relative to your actual potential. If energy is high Monday to Thursday but you crash on Friday, that too is not high performance. If you only start “high-performing” after 2 strong coffees and an hour in the office, again that’s not high performing.
If you want to find out more about how we coach executives to optimise their performance, get in touch here for a free consultation.