• Steve Henigan

What high performance means to me…

The term high performance is often associated with sport, and I have used many sporting examples in talks and articles where high performance has been the theme. One dictionary defines high performance as: ‘better, faster, or more efficient than others’, and in sport or even the automotive sector, it is easy to understand how high performance can be achieved – a gold medal, a world record or a faster 0-100 kmph time. However, how does this then relate to the rest of us in our everyday lives? How do we deliver high performance in our day-to-day lives? What is the purpose behind us achieving high performance?


For me, high performance is achieved when the objectives of the individual can be aligned with those of the organisation, club, or wider group they are a part of. Again, this is easy to quantify in sport and team sports in particular, where team success ultimately aligns with individual success. A World Cup-winning football or rugby team, or a rowing team or F1 team winning a race.


In day-to-day life and business, this alignment is a little harder to see but still achievable. ‘Better, faster, or more efficient’ must be defined for both the organisation and individual. For organisations this is normally linked to a vision and set of values as per the following examples.


  • Ikea – ‘To create a better everyday life for the many people’

  • Gorillas – ‘Faster than you, Groceries at your door in minutes’

  • Southwest – ‘To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline’


For any for-profit organisation, achievement of a company vision will ultimately result in increased revenue and profitability for their shareholders. But does this equate to high performance? Yes, but there are many other areas that are suggestive of whether a business is ‘high performance’ – their ESG strategy and goals, gender ratio, their approach to working, use of technology and their brand perception, to name a few. For an organisation to achieve its vision however, it will need its employees to work in a particular way, undertake certain tasks and ultimately buy into the vision. Inevitably, employees will ask: “what’s in it for me?” and leaders of organisations need to be able to answer this in a way that engages and motivates them. This is particularly prevalent for organisations in the service sector.


For the employees of Gorillas, the consumer receiving their groceries in record breaking time will probably not be all that important to them. However, the company has built an experience around their riders which claims to provide them with competitive earnings, ‘cool rider swag’, e-bikes and an opportunity to take ownership of different functions across the business. For a cyclist wanting flexibility, and the opportunity to ride as part of their work and develop their broader skillset, this may be an attractive proposition and contribute to their own individual version of high performance.


So in my opinion, high performance is about progressing and moving forward, and the metrics are really down to each organisation and individual to decide. However, if high performance is going to be achieved by both, then it is essential that they align.



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