What’s In The Head of High Performing Leaders?

September 14, 2015

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

Meet Deb


They are out there – those people who consistently perform in outstanding ways.

These high performing leaders have certain characteristics and are very consistent in what they think and do. Follow along as we get into the minds of these high performers to learn how we can apply their ways of thinking and doing to our leadership as well.

Here is what I’ve noticed about high performers.


They consistently seek to serve other people.

They are not just looking at how can they serve others and get paid for it but how can they serve in general. I wondered why it was that people who are really hitting those high performance strides even bother or take the time to see how they can serve other people. My conclusion is that they do it because they remember when someone helped them and they have not forgotten where they came from.


They are smart enough to know how to process their experiences, plan, and strategize, but they never do it in a vacuum.

They always do it with the help of their inner circle. What I love about high performers is that they surround themselves with experts. They might have experts in finance, law, product development, marketing, and sales. They realize that in collaboration with these experts, they can offer more and do more than they possibly could alone. And by having this strong inner circle, they are able to make solid decisions quickly.


They look for ways to partner and collaborate.

They look at ways to link arms and create strategic alliances with other successful individuals and organizations, which creates a win-win situation for all involved.

Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, business was not about collaboration at all.  It was more like, “I have all the cookies in my factory, and I’m not sharing my cookies with you. In fact, I don’t even want you to know how many cookies I have.”

That era was very isolationist, with companies operating in separate silos.

This is in stark contrast to Tesla Motors, which is a pretty interesting motorcar company, with patented technology in the realm of electric vehicles. What is very interesting is their CEO decided to give everyone access to the patents. It is an unprecedented and highly collaborative approach. But it is also very wise in the sense that all the companies that could now make electric vehicles could then come to Tesla for their extended charge batteries. Tesla has developed that specialized technology, along with a method for mass production. Sharing the patents has thus created a market for their affordably produced batteries. It is a collaborative win-win situation.


They think in terms of long-term play, not the short-term game.

High performers have bad days and feelings of incompetence, just like you and I do; but they find ways to get back on topside quickly.


They are activators – they have the ability to start the process.

They don’t wait for the process to be perfect. They don’t wait for someone else to take the initiative. They take action, moving from idea to action swiftly.


They are hyper-focused.

They have a clear vision, and they are fully focused on making it happen. They are eager to find multiple methods of getting there.


They are very teachable and coachable.

High performance leaders realize they haven’t arrived. There is another level of knowledge to be acquired. There’s another way they can serve more people.


They think in terms of, “How can I bring other people along?”

They seek to create opportunities for other people to grow. There are eager to see others grow and be recognized for their efforts.


They are all about leadership.

They realize that the buck stops with them, that any decision that works is theirs; and any decision that doesn’t work is theirs as well. They are willing to accept that leadership mantel and own the results.


They seek to serve a cause greater than themselves and will do whatever it takes to serve that cause well.

It’s not about them and their ego. They’re actually quite humble at the core. They may have a bravado about them from a personality standpoint, but underscoring that is passion, humility, and a heart to serve others.

That’s why it is so great when you see successful CEOs and companies that are serving not for profit organizations as well. Outstanding examples include Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.


They think about legacy.

They believe in the work they are doing and its value to mankind. They love what they do and how it serves others, so it is natural that they would then give a great deal of thought as to how that work will continue after they are gone.

Apple is a great example. When Steve Jobs passed away, many saw him as the “magic of the company” and could not imagine Apple without Steve Jobs at the helm. But Steve Jobs built a legacy company. He was a catalyst.  He helped prepare his successors and taught his team to dare to be innovative. I guarantee you that Steve Jobs spent a great deal of time thinking about how the work could continue well beyond his lifetime. It is not exactly the same company, just as the leaders are not Steve Jobs; but it continues his legacy and honors his leadership.


They persist.

High performers realize that the ability to persist is sometimes the only thing that separates them from people who have failed. A high performer will resist anything that prevents them from persisting.

Becoming a high performer is not about going to a workshop, reading a book, or finding one magical key to become one.

It is a process.

Even if these characteristics do not come naturally to you, they can be learned. You can model the behavior of high performers until it does come naturally to you.