This time of the year is one of our favorites because it provides us the opportunity to reflect on our year, the lessons we’ve learned, the trends we’ve seen, the people we’ve had the opportunity to impact, and the amazing impact so many people in this world make on their teams, brands, and customers. The key of course is to make sense of these lessons, to turn these lessons in to new skills, and to become better next year. We thought for our last blog of 2014 we would share a few of the key lessons we learned.
.01 There is no way to separate how a leader treats their team, leads their organization, or creates strategic thinking from the way they invest in their own personal Sustainable High Performance. Time and time again we hear leaders create smoke screens about self-sacrifice, about how the responsibility of their job doesn’t allow any time for themselves, or about how this is just the busy phase and they will get to themselves at a later date. To say it nicely, this is bull$#&%.
We get the opportunity to work with some amazing high performers from many different performance arenas and we have not met a human being who can outperform our own human evolution and physiology. There are some who try hacking it (taking shortcuts) but they always realize that a shortcut is short thinking that leads to unsustainable short results. If a leader wants to become better at leading others, energizing others, and inspiring new thinking, they first must master self-leadership.
.02 It is cliché, but change is constant. For as long as human beings could use language, we probably complained about and struggled with change. This year we saw something very interesting. In the past, many executives dealt with this constant change by simply trying to get more into the minutiae (more tactical and less strategic) by working harder and longer, and by telling themselves that soon things will get better. In the absence of stepping back and using strategic thinking, many companies did more but didn’t stop doing anything. This has led to a record level of executive fatigue and floating (see Sink, Float, or Swim), which we have never seen before.
The fact is that constant change requires new levels of agility. This requires energy, a high-performing brain, resilience to deal with setbacks, and more stamina than ever. Without these things, we have seen time and time again very smart people resort to their ingrained default of putting their head down and just ramming it into the closest wall. When we apply the Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery strategies required to create Sustainable High Performance, we can think different, lead different, and most important be different. This allows us to “stop” doing the things that don’t make sense any more and “start” doing the things that create multiplier opportunities.
In 2010, Bruch and Menges published a great article in HBR called “The Acceleration Trap”. In this article they described exactly what we saw in 2014. The trap of thinking you can continue to do more with less and still do better stuff than ever has exposed itself as another fatality of shortterm thinking. It was a shortterm solution to the recession, but we have seen that leaders who think they can motivate their tired workforce out of this acceleration trap by somehow inspiring them to do more are dreaming. If a leader doesn’t arm themselves, their leaders, and their teams with the knowledge, tools, and ecosystem to be Sustainable High Performers, they will not be successful.
.03 There are some real thought leaders out there who are creating innovative solutions to help create Sustainable High Performance from all angles. Delos (www.delos.com) is linking neuroscience and sustainability into architecture and building design to help human beings feel better, be more productive, and go home healthier. Results Only Work Environment (www.gorowe.com) are changing the conversation from the stale old badge of honor of how many hours you worked to what results you actually delivered. EXOS (www.teamexos.com) is changing corporate wellness from just preventing disease to proactively getting more from everything you do. The list is growing but the lesson is that the current crisis is creating some new thinking; but it will require bold leaders to think and act different.
In 2014 we saw some companies start to make Sustainable High Performance part of their employee value proposition, part of their success supporting culture, and part of the brand they deliver to their customers. These thought leaders will undoubtedly change the way business is done in the future and we will highlight some of them in our 2015 blogs. In addition, throughout 2014 we introduced the new currency of success, Quality of Time. We called this QOT™ and we learned that when it’s all said and done, this is the most important thing to a high performer. When an executive maximizes their impact, productivity, and influence throughout all of their daily events (both professional and personal), burnout disappears, KPI’s get delivered, and engagement is not only high, it is actually focused on the things that matter most.
To all of our clients, we want to thank you for joining the Tignum Sustainable High Performance revolution. We hope you enjoy your holidays and get some recovery, have some fun, and do some really meaningful reflection. We look forward to serving you in 2015, helping you maximize your QOT™, and as always we would love to hear what you think.
Jogi and Scott