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Achieving Peak Performance
Whether you believe you're a great company, or you believe you aren't, you're probably right
Is your company a winner or an also-ran? If this was a movie, would you be the tall, dark handsome guy who always gets the girl, or the weedy loser who gets sand kicked in his face? Is your corporate cup half empty or half full? Do you expect to find a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow or just a muddy puddle?
The extent to which - as an organisation and as individuals - you are self-assured and expect to succeed is a hugely important indictor of success, but one which is often overlooked. Although it's difficult to quantify and identify, it's nevertheless something of which we're all aware. Just think of which firms you admire and why - chances are those you have chosen have won your admiration because you perceive them as being 'successful and confident'.
'Success' is all to do with the fact that attractive people attract, while those who others sense as being insecure, uncertain or nervous are given a wide berth. Often professionals are confident about their intellectual capability and technical skills as this is what is consistently rewarded and recognised within the firm.
However, other aptitudes such as skill in winning new business or dealing with difficult clients go largely unrewarded. Those who lack confidence in these areas therefore have no motivation to improve, and there is no culture of reinforcing and rewarding improved performance.
People who are successful, expect to be successful
Peak performance is self-perpetuating in that people who are winning expect to win; people who are successful expect to be successful and people who are liked expect to be liked and respected. And most important, those who are successful are usually relaxed, self-confident and appear to be much more in control of things than those who are not. They radiate self-assurance, giving others the confidence that they will succeed at whatever they do. This is enormously important when you're courting new clients.
Particularly in a situation where clients perceive the level of technical ability to be equal between firms (and usually they have little on which to base this assessment), they'll go for the one that 'feels right' i.e. the more relaxed and self-assured.
(Of course, it can be overdone - we all know of people and firms who we consider 'brash', 'pushy' or 'arrogant' - but actually they also tend to have low personal or corporate self-esteem.)
The good news is that if you think you lack corporate confidence, you can do something about it - both on a group and individual basis. Success truly is in the eye of the beholder; 'Act authoritatively and you will be perceived as authoritative' said Robert Winston. So if you play the role of being successful and assured long enough, you eventually will become just that.
Tips for corporate confidence
Corporate confidence is not easy to change and the specific aspects requiring attention will vary for each organisation. However if you try some of the following tips you're sure to see a noticeable improvement in performance:
Focus on improving internal and external communication. Don't hide your personal or corporate light under a bushel - make sure everyone knows about your successes, no matter how small, and develop a culture of congratulating people and recognising exceptional effort.
Partners and leaders in particular should work towards fostering a culture of enthusiasm and positivity. It's all too easy to be perennially down-beat and envious of others' success - focus instead on celebrating your own strengths and building on the unique advantages you have to offer.
Be creative. Success is never dependent on money, size, location, skill or any other particular factor. Success comes from using the talents, skills and creativity within your firm to generate 'opportunities' and making your own 'luck'.
Work together. Often 'successful' firms have that reputation simply because every single individual within that firm works as a team, has enormous belief in the firm and shares the responsibility (and glory) for what it achieves.
Learn from each other's successes and mistakes. Concentrate on cooperating rather than competing, and don't -as an individual - be too proud (or too defensive) to admit that you may not know it all. Identify those with marketing and business development strengths, let them take the lead in setting the pace and make an effort to actively learn from their example.
Finally, don't take your eye off the ball. Remember the golfer, Jack Nicklaus's approach: 'The harder I practice, the luckier I get'. It's the same with business development. If you keep at it, relentlessly and energetically, you can't help but succeed.
What's your opinion?
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