The Mathematics of High Performance—recruiting a mountain range of talent

Cnicht, Wales

Cnicht, Wales

You cannot have peaks without valleys. The splendour of the rising, craggy, glinty peaks are made more majestic by their contrast to the plunging, dark, soden-moss valleys.

And while plains have their charm, it is the mountain which pulls breath from the crowd.

And as for topography, so for people. Yet, while many of our personal review processes acknowledge an individual’s strengths, most myopically over-focus on actions to remediate  weaknesses. Thus we spend our developmental years obsessed with the task of back-filling valleys. 

This is akin to forcing Usain Bolt to train (and win) the 5,000 metres, 10,000 metres and marathon race—while still expecting maintained prowess in the sprint. 

Recruit a mountain range of talent

A different perspective emerges when you spend time with top athletes and highly accomplished business professionals. it is clear they shun the 'superman' approach and chose a different path. They play to their strengths and focus on developing them further. They avoid exposing their weaknesses and recruit others with complimentary strengths. 

They build an Olympic team, not a super-hero expected to win every race.

They only enter races in which they can be competitive. They apply the mathematics of high performance.

Notice the two prerequisites. 


To deliver high performance an individual needs an abundance of talent relevant to that context. This requires brutal self-awareness. If talent is absent, no amount of stress, strain,  bullying, reward or tuition will give a peak performance.


Top performers are very aware of the way they develop their skills.  They use a variety of tools and methods to mimic their field of play, and practice purposefully. They don’t over-train, and they try to avoid injury. They don't confuse Hours-In-The-Office (HITO) with effort, and they adopt behaviours which reinforce their training.

Typical behaviours of a high-performing team are:

  • The members are self-aware of, and confident in, their talent
  • They are clear on the common aim of the group
  • They deliver their contribution within a common set of values
  • They trust each other to deliver their respective contribution  
  • They provide honest feedback loops to aid improved performance and cohesion
  • The team and the individuals are improved as a result of the collective interaction
  • Each team member is exploiting their talent—not trying to correct a weakness

Are you recruiting a mountain range of talent? Download the checklist to find out.

If we want high-performance at minimal stress, we should focus on building Olympian teams, and leave the expectation of super-heros to our bedtime fiction.

He aba te kai o te rangatira? He kõrero, he kõrero, he kõrero.”

”What is the food of the leader? It is knowledge. It is communication.
— Old Maori Proverb
Simon LuntComment