For those new to this series . . .
This blog is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational peak performance. We share insights from an upcoming book on The Foundation of Winning (FOW), the template we have developed to help our clients achieve their personal and organizational potential. The FOW elements include Three Principles of Mankind and Four Disciplines of Leadership—they are the pillars that enable natural alignment and meaningful success.
I was privileged to spend 21 years at University of Michigan Athletics, including 11 years with Football Coach Bo Schembechler, one of our nation’s most exemplary leaders. Working with Bo revealed there is much more to long-term peak performance than talent. Being a systems engineer, I was fascinated by the science behind what made enduring peak performance possible. There are many great leaders who possess what Bo embodied, but he may be referenced more than others due to the life experiences.
What behaviors do the peak performers at your organization have in common?
We have shared the importance of Organizational Cultural Fit and Job Competency Fit and how they contribute to Peak Performance. The last component of the Performance Evaluation Equation is Behavioral Fit.
Job Behavioral Requirements
A unique inventory of behavioral requirements for the job is required before interviewing for a new hire. While it’s imperative that a surgeon and a police officer each function well under pressure, the nature of the pressure each faces is different and so is the optimum response for each.
For employees already in the fold, they need to understand what appropriate behavior for the job looks like. Once known, and compliance has been assessed, we need strategies for coaching them to adjust their behaviors to match better with the requirements for Peak Performance. Reviewing the behavioral profiles of highly-successful past incumbents is an excellent beginning when creating or modifying the behavioral requirements for a particular job. And each of us must honestly appraise our own behavioral bias in performing our jobs for peak performance, as we move along our career path.
Job comfort describes the level of compatibility between an individual’s behavioral profile and behavioral requirements for the job. A high level of job comfort correlates with less effort, because we are doing what comes naturally. A low level of job comfort requires much more energy to sustain high performance, as we fight our natural tendencies. People tend to underperform and leave jobs where a low behavioral match results in low job comfort. In addition, there is a greater chance of mistakes being made when under pressure when we have poor job behavior fit.
Fundamental Requirements – Positive Energy and Passion
Do you have people in your organization who you look forward to working with because of their positive energy? R
esearch by Rob Cross, Wayne Baker, and Andrew Parker shows that, “Not only are energizers better performers themselves, but people who are strongly connected to an energizer are also better performers.” There is a direct correlation to return in assets with positive energy.
Passion for Your Job
There may be no greater contributor to success in life and in our jobs than that of passion. It is our drive, our commitment, our love of the work we do and its greater impact that intrinsically brings us energy. Early in FS&A’s development of the Peak Performance Equation, this component was not explicitly present; we thought it was covered in Cultural Fit as part of the individual’s alignment with the organization’s purpose. When I shared the Peak Performance Equation with real estate developer Steve Ross, for whom the Michigan Ross School of Business is named, he liked it, but added, “You are missing the most important ingredient in success: Passion!” There is no substitute for an unwavering commitment to something you believe deeply in. It is now a part of the Behavioral component of the Peak Performance Equation, and has been helpful when deciding on whom to hire, and to promote, for our clients.
Four Additional Behaviors to Assess
It is vital that we understand how an individual acts and reacts in a variety of scenarios. No two of us are the same, and understanding your own natural behavior will aid you, as a leader, to act and react responsibly. In addition, you will gain a deeper respect and understanding for the natural behavior of others, which will in turn enhance your relationships.
For job candidates (and yourself!), consider the four behaviors, shown in the table below, on a continuum.
There are no right or wrong behaviors, profiles, or reports for greatness, as each has its own strengths and benefits. We like to say that each of us is weird in our unique way, and that is a good thing! Every person is unique, as is every job. As an individual has natural behaviors, especially under pressure, each job has a behavioral requirement for peak performance. The better the behavioral fit, the less stress a person will be under when doing the job day after day, especially when under pressure. Who we are is expressed most clearly when we are under pressure, when the rational thinking brain is least engaged. This is when the wrong people in the wrong seats make mistakes at a cost of millions of dollars, or even the lives of people they are responsible for.
Leadership Challenge Questions
As a leader, ask yourself:
- What are your own natural behavioral tendencies?
- How can you better understand the natural behavioral tendencies of each of your team members?
- How can you attract candidates who have the proper Behavioral Fit for a given job in your organization?
- Are you looking at why individuals conduct themselves the way they do, more than how they conduct themselves?