Striving for World-Class Performance:  Resourcing Yourself

By: David Astorino

The biggest barrier to resourcing yourself for world-class performance is...yourself. At RHR, we work with many executives who achieve substantial success through grit, hard work, and sheer determination. They are singularly focused on their individual achievement and such drive and passion can get them very far. Yet, just like Andy Murray, whom we talked about in the first post of this series, there often comes a moment where these skills are insufficient, and in fact, derailing. Two of the most common derailers that prevent next-level performance are:

1. Unrecognized self-doubt. Often the most driven and achievement-oriented executives are also those who have the most unrecognized self-doubt. Their fuel for success comes from feelings of inadequacy, or that they will never measure up to unrealistic standards. And these feelings can surface en force just at those moments when they are, ironically, publicly validated for their achievements, such as promotion to the top job. And, unfortunately, most executives double down on those behaviors that got them to this point in their career when they need to do just the opposite: step back and reevaluate what is needed for success at this new level. 

2. Go it alone. Related to the above, too many executives try to outwork and out control everyone else as they white knuckle their individual achievement. World-class performance for executives often requires dealing with VUCA environments (i.e., volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous). These are the types of challenges that require diverse thinking/skill sets and collaboration with others, not the heroics of one person.

These two derailers, self-doubt and intense self-reliance, can be counteracted with self-awareness and openness. Self-awareness is often compromised when we are under stress and there is nothing more stressful than feeling like you are failing. But it’s just at these moments where the elite athlete and executive need to recognize they are stuck and open themselves up to help. Vulnerability and knowing when to seek help is the most important step in understanding how to resource yourself for world-class performance. And it is precisely the most difficult for many executives since it goes against everything that has enabled success to this point.

Practical steps—such as defining what success looks like in a specified period of time, realizing that new approaches are required to achieve that success and who will need to be involved, and opening oneself up to expert coaching and help—can lead to experimentation with new behaviors that need to be exercised to achieve world-class performance.

In the third and final part of this series, we will address how to resource the executive team—a critical element to striving for world-class performance.

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