Being able to perform optimally in any circumstance in living, working, or playing is based upon being present to the immediate experiences surrounding us. Immediate, “in-the-moment” decisions affect us every day, and the difference between a good or bad decision can be tremendous. Consider the case of a traveler who starts their journey on a course that is off by a mere 2 degrees, but who travels miles before noticing the mistake. That traveler will be far away from their intended destination if they do not make a correction, and the earlier in the journey the correction is made, the faster they will reach their target destination.

In my work with executives in finance, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, sports organizations, and other fields I have had the opportunity to assess these leaders and their performance when under pressure. Not surprisingly, I found that the quality of their leadership is profoundly affected by pressure, yet the training and preparation for leaders rarely, if ever, includes anything addressing how well prepared they are for handling pressure. 

Elite athletes offer a great example of preparedness for corporate executives and leaders inasmuch as they are under constant, heightened pressure, yet they must perform to their best ability in spite of it. As a result, they train for every circumstance, expected and unexpected. This preparation helps them develop the (often unseen) attention and interpersonal skills that influence their responses and behavior when under these extreme amounts of pressure. The result is what we all see on the field, court, or course – and, of course, they make it look easy. Rest assured, it is not. It is well-planned preparation. Just as an athlete trains for what is unexpected so can every corporate leader – and it would be to their benefit and the benefit of the company they lead to do so. 

When optimal performance is necessary, it is not enough to make quick decisions. Making these decisions – sound ones – requires a process of assessing and developing the factors that influence them when they must make those decisions, especially when under extreme pressure. Leaders require awareness, analysis, fluidity of thinking, risk taking, etc., but performance under pressure may change the process of the leader. Just as the elite athlete or Navy SEAL trains for immediate responses so should corporate leadership.

There are many factors which are essential in leadership performance, and not everyone has these qualities or capabilities. Just because someone is great at data analysis, does not mean they are a great candidate for leadership in succession planning. Predicting who on the leadership team will perform at a high level is the first step towards building an optimally performing executive team. That prediction can be made by assessing yourself and your leadership team to determine who has which of the essential skills to perform under pressure and who should be trained. 

That’s what we do best. Performance in Mind is a unique data-driven consultancy that uses state-of-the-art tools to assist in talent assessment, corporate culture development, and strategic executive performance coaching.