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The Secret Of High Performance

498800842If you want inspiration on how to be part of a brilliant, winning, growing, thriving team and business, then read on. I have a secret to share that will deliver success. Here it is.

My new business is all about helping leaders accelerate growth. It means I get the privilege of ‘looking under the hoods’ of more communications businesses than you can poke a stick at. And every time I get asked the same question: “How do we create a high performance culture in our business?”

The answer is simple. Not glamorous. Not sexy ‘visions and values nicely framed on the tea room wall’ stuff. If you want to build and be a part of a business that is a high performing, winning, leading unit, it all starts with doing this one thing. There is no short-cut.

Fight hard together, shoulder to shoulder, in a tough battle delivering to clients.

It’s easy to build mutual respect between colleagues. “I know what you have done and achieved and I respect that.” But building personal trust only comes from being side by side in client ‘trench warfare.’ And mutual trust and confidence in each other is a key to high performing teams.

Australian rugby union coach Michael Cheika sums it up this way:

“Nothing builds a team together more than working hard, sweating a little, spilling a bit of blood together. It builds respect from one to the other. Importantly, it builds trust. Working hard to produce a better place for others.”

Yes, rally and focus the team around a common vision. What is our purpose? What are we trying to achieve as a team? What does success look like?

Yes, get clarity around the sorts of behaviours we covet and expect.

Both the vision, and the behaviours we value, give us a clear compass point of direction.

Then get busy together. In the threnches. Dodge together, go forward together, take the hit, show courage, sweat together, spill a little blood together. The happiest, most effective teams I have ever seen always had 10% too much work to do and 10% too much consistent pressure over all they did. The stories I hear told most often when former colleagues regroup for a quiet wine and reminisce are always about those times when the heart was beating fast together, the pressure was on, and moments of truth abounded.

Some of you young guns (and not so young) will giggle and shake your heads in wonder. “Oh you old fart you. So out of date with the modern way of balance and wellbeing. Don’t you know that it’s all about us nowadays?”

Get real. Of course you need balance (not exactly sure what that means?) and yes of course we all need to take care of ourselves (I do know what that means and am no poster boy for it sadly), but face reality, even if it is a bit of a shock.

If you want to succeed as part of a team, then it is simply NOT about us. About me. About you. Step up. Work hard. Really hard. Work as part of a team. Put the team first. Be prepared to go into battle shoulder to shoulder and to ‘take one for the team’ when needed. That might mean working an all-nighter, taking the blame for something you did not do, making the tough phone call. It’s spilling a little blood together.

Do that and you become part of a high performing team. A team where respect and trust abound. And a team which wants you on it. When you’re part of a high performing team, you never want to leave it. And you’ll always remember those as the ‘special times’ in your career.

Just ask any ex-All Black.

I’m going for a cup of tea and lie down. And to thank my lucky stars that as part of my portfolio of interests, I am part of several high performing teams. Early days and just a couple of skirmishes together under our belts. But it’s building. It’s an honour, and a privilege, and I would never have it any other way.

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17 Responses to The Secret Of High Performance

  1. Henry Downing February 7, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    Nice, Chris! Great read.

    • Chris Savage February 7, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

      Thanks Henry!

  2. Jaqui Lane February 8, 2017 at 10:19 am #

    Chris, Well said. I’m starting my third business and first on-line one, with a combination of a virtual and real team, so your post is a timely reminder of the need to create a team culture- hard to do when your team is in Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sydney and Melbourne, but even more important to do. As to working hard, work/life balance . . . starting and maintaining a new business has always been hard work!

    • Chris Savage February 9, 2017 at 9:45 am #

      Good luck with it, Jaqui!!

      • Jaqui Lane September 2, 2017 at 9:27 pm #

        As you say Chris…its about hard work and the team and you’re not an old fart. Values and teamwork are great partners. Especially like your comment:
        Both the vision, and the behaviours we value, give us a clear compass point of direction. They sure do and as a relative old fart it took me a while to realise just how important these are.

  3. Sing February 8, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    Yeap…like the inspirational speech given by Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday.

    • Chris Savage February 9, 2017 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks Sing.

  4. Ale Wiecek February 8, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

    Thanks Chris – always an awesome read!

    • Chris Savage February 9, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      Thanks Ale!

  5. Sue Sutton February 9, 2017 at 2:22 am #

    Great post Chris! I’ll be sharing this with the CEO of my new client who wants me to work on the company culture with him. The company is full of (talented) young guns who have a sense of entitlement – this is a great message to share with them.

    • Chris Savage February 9, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      Thanks Sue! Appreciated. Chris

  6. Russ Feilen February 9, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    Chris does this mean you are donning ‘head gear’ together with suit these days?

    • Chris Savage February 9, 2017 at 4:15 pm #

      Absolutely Russ!

  7. Katie Gold February 9, 2017 at 11:49 am #

    Great article Chris. I agree entirely hard work, achievements and suffering brings people together. Everyone has an innate set point for what they perceive to be hard work. The selection of diligent, hard working, high performing people is the basis of team culture ie proper hard work and culture buy-in escapes many people, talented or otherwise. If it is not inherently in the person to strive, no amount of team culture sessions and cartwheels will bring them up to pace.

    • Chris Savage February 9, 2017 at 4:15 pm #

      Thanks Katie- good to hear from you!! Chris

  8. philip crenigan May 16, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks for this article, which I completely endorse as an executive coach…very few CEO’s have building a high performing team as a discreet objective, which can be measured…best wishes

    • Chris Savage June 1, 2017 at 2:39 pm #

      Thanks Philip. Chris

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