Principles of Great Performance

I enjoy having the opportunity to discuss and explore career options/goals with a number of people. I captured some of those learnings in my career decisions blog. But, sometimes the discussion is not at all about decisions, and is more focused on career progression. Said another way, people ask, "How do I get ahead in my career?"

I tend to think that getting ahead is a matter of 3 items:

1) Exceeding your business targets consistently. (whatever they may be)

2) Performing tasks beyond the scope of #1 (pro-actively) and exceeding expectations on those too.
3) Distinguishing yourself as an A-player, in any and all endeavors.



I think most people typically concern themselves with #1, ignoring the other two. That may be acceptable in the short term, but will likely catch up to someone that is interested in career growth, over time.

To help you think about personal development, I want to share my view of the principles of great performance. This is primarily relates to #3 above. You've seen many of these before. These are the kind of things that probably don't fit in a performance review per se, but they do directly relate to your ability to have an impact on any business. I don't take credit for penning all of these, but I have found them to be good guideposts for success. Lastly, no one can do all of these well, But then again, aspiring to achieve them is half the battle...




Principles of Great Performance



1) Study and read often. Be the smartest person in the room on your topic. Have a point of view, grounded in facts.

2) Be proactive, not reactive, in all matters.

3) Leverage your management and executive team for timely escalation of critical topics. On the other hand, don't cry wolf.

4) Differentiate yourself: Be responsive, Be decisive, Be passionate for the business, Have a bias for action, Understand details and be organized, Prioritize, Contribute to the overall team. Don't just go through the motions, Show a sense of urgency. Be an active participant.

5) Be on time and prepared for all interactions. Whether internal or external, be prepared and ready to contribute in a professional manner.

6) Demonstrate a capability for effective "straight talk," so that tough or controversial problems are dealt with directly, with the relevant party, rather than indirectly or not at all. The ability should be demonstrated inside and outside of your company.


7) Communicate swiftly and concisely. Expand into detail when prompted or when needed.
 Brevity in communication leads to greater impact.

8) Develop productive relationships across the company, leveraging them to solve problems at the lowest level possible in the organization.


9) Complete assigned tasks in a timely manner, without requiring reminders.


10) Produce grammatically well written documents, notes and presentations with simple and clear communication. Same applies to verbal communications. Strive for clarity of all messages.


11) Take risks, make mistakes, learn from them, and strive to not repeat them.


12) Accept accountability and responsibility for all actions (committed and omitted).

13) Measure everything important and know where you stand versus those measurements. Measure goals on a consistent and excuse-free basis.

14) Exude optimism and confidence, but not hubris.

15) Lead, don't manage.


16) Have an Edge, in everything you do. If you don't have the Edge, someone else does.


17) If you are a manager, it's not about 'You', it's about 'Them'.


18) Develop a superior external network.


19) Work with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.


20) It's better to be a pirate, than join the Navy.

21) Plan, Prepare, Plan, Prepare...repeat.

22) Master the art of motivating others.


23) Be a contrarian, with facts to support your position.

24) Develop a core competence or skill. Become 'known' for it.


25) Panic is not a plan. Don’t panic. Just plan and then improvise.

26) Confidence is a learned skill. It’s developed through practice.

27) Avoid the ABC’s of personal and business decay: Arrogance, Bureaucracy, and complacency.

28) Share your expertise actively with modern social tools: blogging, twitter, connections, etc.

29) Make your family and personal relationships a priority, despite your career goals and the demands of the job.

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