This next blog in the BizGuides Series pinpoints the key traits of an individual that a company should mark as leading indicators for future performance. These traits should also serve as a guide for an individual seeking to attain peak performance.
Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to interview and hire hundreds of employees as well as mentor many smart and talented individuals along the way. The question of “nature versus nurture” is always on the mind of management regarding the hiring of the best personnel and the continuous improvement of their performance. My observation is that it is the person who drives individual success.
There are various articles about what makes a person tick. Circa 2004, I delivered a speech to the graduating class of Engineering at the University of Ottawa in which I outlined 5 critical personal success factors, listed below, which I believe determine whether an individual will become a high performer or just an average contributor.
- Passion – “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Oprah Winfrey; a Media and Entertainment Mogul.
- Persistence – “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth; a Professional Baseball Player.
- Professional Pride – “But I will know that there is a seam.” The response from my kitchen counter granite maker & installer, during our renovation, when I told him that no one will know that the window overhang is made of two parts.
- Planning -“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin; a Founding Father of the United States of America.
- Performance – “I do the very best I know how, the very best I can and I mean to keep doing so until the end.” Abraham Lincoln; 16th President of the United States of America.
Passion and persistence are inherent with the makeup of an individual and one either has it or doesn’t; there is no middle ground. When interviewing a potential employee, it is valuable to ask probing questions as to whether the person has any passions for a hobby, a cause, or some professional activity.
From the perspective of the individual, being passionate about an activity, makes you love what you do and makes you not consider it as work. Persistence allows you to go the extra mile especially in tough situations when everyone around you has given up.
Professional pride can be attained and is important to ensure that the task is not declared fully complete until the person executing it is proud to sign their name to it. Steven Jobs, CEO of Apple and all members of the team who contributed to the development of the Macintosh personal computer signed their names on a plaque which was incorporated into the unit.
Planning can be an acquired skill and can evolve over time. It has a major impact on the ability of an individual to be efficient in the execution of both routine as well as complex activities. Having the above characteristics will sooner or later lead the individual to become a high performer with a successful career.