High performers are people who reliably get the right results, the right way.  Day in and day out, year after year, they add value.  There is no secret sauce, proprietary method, or hack that will magically transform you into a high performer.  It is consistency of effort, results, and behavior.

Sports have taught me a lot of invaluable lessons, but one that all athletes understand is that the game does not care who you are.  The game does not care what you did last game or last season.  The game does not care about your awards, medals, or trophies.  The game only cares about what you are doing right now.  If an athlete wants to be great, they need to bring it every day, every practice, every training session, every game, and every season.

My time at Officer Candidate School for the United States Marine Corps reinforced this lesson—consistency of effort, results, and behavior is foundational for success.  The Marines transform people into professionals who understand this fact. When things go south, knowing that they can rely on their fellow Marines, and knowing what to expect of each other, is what consistency builds. It is the cornerstone for becoming a high performer.

If you are in a position of authority, ask your direct reports what they want from you.  They will tell you that they want consistency: of expectations, feedback, and behavior. They want you to be a given, to know that you will lead and be a professional regardless of the situation.

If you have a boss, ask them what they desire the most from you as an employee.  They will tell you that they want consistency: of effort, results, and behavior. They want to know that regardless of circumstance, you are going to deliver.  They want people who reliably get the right results, the right way.

Who are the go-to people in your organization that everyone asks for help when in a pinch?  They are the people who over time have produced the right results, the right way. They are the people, regardless of the problem or the ask, who you know will respond professionally because they have done so consistently over time.  They are the ones, the high performers.

The leadership industry produces useful tools and approaches to leadership, like intentional self-reflection, empathic listening, emotional intelligence, and verbal communication.  All are important, but if approached as a one-off they will not generate the intended impact.  Consistency is the key.  Consistent intentional self-reflection.  Consistently listening to others with empathy.  Consistently relying on the value of emotional intelligence and effective verbal communication.  It is the consistency that generates the long-term impact.

Dispelling a common misunderstanding about consistency is an essential first step for developing into a high performer. Consistency of effort does not mean pulling all-nighters five days a week for a month.  That is short-term thinking, unsustainable, unhealthy, and indicates possible efficiency issues.  Instead, consistency of effort points toward people’s general work ethic over time.  Think years, not quarters.

Another simple step for understanding consistency and for developing into a higher performer is understanding what the right results mean for you, your position, and your company.  Find out what the right way means at your company.  Is that living the core values?  If so, what behaviors are representative of the core values for your position?  You need to understand how your company defines the right way so that you can consistently demonstrate those behaviors.  Someone who gets the right results, but does so in a questionable manner, does not qualify as a high performer.

There are no secrets, formulas, or hacks for developing into a high performer.  Ask someone who is one, and listen.  They probably won’t explicitly say consistency, but their message will be clear: consistency rules the day.

 (Adapted from original article published by the Reading Eagle Business Weekly on 8-14-18)