Every system is a product of the sum of it’s parts. You are only as good as your weakest link is what most of us hear. Remember, we are wired for loss aversion.
As leaders we study systems for a living and are always trying to build redundancies into our financial system, our product design, and our technical solutions. We don’t want the system to fail because of a weak link we failed to account for. The same is true for most leaders and the way they look at their people. We are fixated on our weakest players. We are running our companies with our eyes on the bottom feeders and getting them up to the performance bar. We have bought the lie that we are only as good as our weakest link, right?
The fact is that you are only as good as your high performers. High performers, in nearly every system whether it’s the military, the world of sports, technology, or something as mundane as cleaning your carpets, outpace the average by 500%. Your problem isn’t the bottom feeders. Your problem is you aren’t focused enough on getting one more high performer.
Put your team under more pressure. Study the details of how they respond. Put them under more pressure and do more of the same. High performers are resilient, we know, and stand up under the gun. Practice this before you hire them. Practice this as part of how you hire. Challenge your new recruits, put them under pressure, and look for the hidden virtues that lead to high performance. Look for resilience. High performers thrive on the pressure, most humans wilt. Your system is made up mostly of wilters – this too is your problem. Like my friend, Jim Gant, wrote in his analysis of high performers in the world of war – 80 out of every 100 is simply a target, 20 take the fight to the enemy, and a couple of those make all the difference in the world. Think about how great your system would be if you had one more 5X performer. One more could make all the difference in the world.
Focus here. Focus on one more, here. Good…