Many of our clients seek “high performers” or look to establish a “high performance” sales organization.  Exactly what does this mean? I started thinking about a recipe to develop high performers when a colleague sent me a video clip of Brendon Burchard talking about qualities that all high performers possess.

To give credit where it is due, this does build on the qualities that Burchard says all high performers share. However, these are ideas that I’ve referenced often in this blog and when speaking to our customers.

So here’s my list of how we as leaders can develop high performers:

  1. Provide clarity. Ambiguity is the enemy of great. I often say you can’t hit a goal you don’t have—you need to be absolutely clear in what you’re aiming for and what you want to accomplish. As leaders, we need to make sure we are clear not only in where we are heading but in setting expectations because how can you excel unless you have absolute clarity as to what that means?
  2. Exhibit courage and encourage it in others. As leaders, we need to have the courage of our convictions. But this is also something that our employees should share. We can’t always be right. And if we hire the right people, then we should be able to rely on them and trust their judgment. This means they should have the courage to speak their mind even when they disagree with us. Make it part of the culture—that titles don’t matter as much as doing the right thing.
  3. Be continual learners. Most leaders are voracious readers and lifelong learners. We should encourage our employees to do likewise, to hone their skills so they can be more efficient and effective. That means investing in training and development. And perhaps more importantly, we need to provide continual reminders and reinforcement of any training so the learning becomes ingrained. Create a learning environment.
  4. Share best practices. Some people are already doing things better than their peers. Provide opportunities for them to share their knowledge. High performers can teach others what they are doing that makes them so successful. Often these are just small differences that others could adopt that would help them be more effective and efficient.
  5. Encourage mistakes. Yes, mistakes. For if mistakes are never made, then you are on a downward slope. Taking risks will involve failure at some point. The key is to view these as learning experiences and move on. When at all possible, create zones where mistakes can be made with minimal consequences. For example, when training your sales team on a new selling approach, build in practice times. Let sales reps make mistakes when talking to peers or managers where they can be corrected and do little damage. Then when they meet with customers, the mistakes will be minimized.

Keep in mind that high performers are created, not born. Leaders can and should make a difference. As you strive to create high performing teams and to develop more high performers, this list just might be the recipe for success.