Interim Executive Resources

High Performance Series: Individuals

There have been many studies of high performance and many models developed to describe the elements necessary to achieve high performance. In this article, one model is presented to describe critical requirements for high performance at the individual level. In this model, four elements are required to achieve high performance – perspective, autonomy, connection, and tone. These elements are described and examples are given to enhance the description. The essence of this four element high performance model is that if any of these elements are missing or degraded, high performance won’t occur and identifying and eliminating gaps in these performance factors can lead to higher achievement.

Perspective – this factor describes an individual’s understanding of how they fit into the world around them. People with good perspective will realize that the world turns on a 21st century technology base, there is an economic crises going on that evidently no one really knows how to solve, and the global population has huge discrepancies in resources, education, population density, and beliefs. People are actively engaged in real issues that affect real people and if they don’t have a broad perspective of their surroundings, they may make decisions and take actions that are out of context and not as powerful as possible.

Autonomy – this factor describes an individual’s ability to perform their role on their own. A person with high autonomy understands expectations across all of their roles / connections and can motivate themselves to deliver on those expectations. For example, a person understanding that they are a middle aged male in the working population and a husband / father to a family is critical for that person to deliver on expectations that contribute to their high performance. If something is amiss with their housing, they should fix the issue or at least get it fixed. If they have no means of generating income, they should go out and get a job. If a person is not able to operate autonomously, they will always be awaiting direction from others and will not accomplish as much as people that are self-starters.

Connection – this third factor describes an individual’s understanding of who they are and how they fit into society. People are social beings and need to relate to the people that surround them. A good understanding of role is required for a person to get along in the world. Using the stereotypical middle aged male head of household example again, there are things that need to be done to fulfill role destiny (e.g. supportive and parenting relationship with children…) and if these destinies are not achieved, there is not high performance. Similarly, role confusion can lead to dysfunction. For example, if a person is not a policeman they should not be arresting people and if they are not the Secretary of State they should not be negotiating treaties with foreign powers.

Tone – this fourth and final factor simply describes fitness and health. Basically, if a person is healthy, has an adequate diet and gets reasonable rest and exercise, they can rise to their potential as an individual. If they are ill or unhealthy for whatever reason, they will not rise to their greatest and will not operate with high performance.

As the model goes, individuals need to have perspective (I understand how my actions impact the world around me), autonomy (I know how and when to get things done), connection (my role and others roles), and tone (I’m healthy and fit). With high scores in these factors, they have the ability to achieve at their maximum potential. The model does not imply that when these elements are present, high performance is automatic. Just because a person is capable of a high level of contribution does not mean they will rise to that opportunity.

In fact, this model is most useful in identifying areas preventing an individual from performing to their potential and can provide insights into what to do to improve performance. If a person is unhealthy, they cannot get to high performance, so grapple with the health issue. If a person does not understand their role and how they should relate to those around them, basic socialization issues should be identified and improved. If a person cannot execute independently, work towards skill building and increasing self esteem can have a positive impact. And if a person really doesn’t understand how the world works, awareness building can lead to better decision making.

By understanding that there are four different elements that contribute to high performance, we can appreciate the complexity of improving individuals to be able to contribute at their highest potentials. This model can be used to build development plans for people so that they can unleash their inherent power.

Additionally, this model can be applied to teams, and in the next article, we explore perspective, autonomy, connection, and tone for groups and show how the model can provide insight for businesses as well as for individuals.

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