At some point during the many seminars in which I engage with executives around the world, I am frequently asked something like this:
"You talk about the making of a high-performance organization NOT as something to be achieved, but as a ‘way of life.’ What do you mean by this?”
This always strikes me as a great question, and one which targets the heart of the matter. There are many answers. Here are a few:
- What sustains great performance is not effort, but habits. If high performance becomes a matter of habits of mind and action for everyone in the organization, it is sustainable. It becomes a central aspect of the culture.
- You can arrive as a matter largely of good fortune. But fortune is fickle. It’s how you develop people on the journey that ultimately matters.
- If you have your eye on “arriving” at Valhalla, you miss the most important part of it. And that is, in short, how competent you are to stay there once you get there.
- Great achievements are won in small, struggling steps. Those are not there arbitrarily. They are there to make sure you inculcate the habits required to go on to the next step – and beyond.
- If you’re doing it for the rewards or the recognition, you are doing it for the wrong reason. If you HAVE to know whether you can make a high-performance organization or not, you are compelled to see it through. That’s the only way you will know.
- And certainly not least, what you have to learn about making high-performance organizations you can learn only by doing it. It’s what you learn along the tough and demanding path of getting there that provides you with what you need in order to reside there.
- There is a price to be paid. That is the price of changing habits, beginning with yours. If you haven’t got the right set of habits, you can’t stay there. That’s the ‘way of life’ part of it. You can’t will yourself there. It is your way of life (determined by your habits) that determines how your journey will end—or not.