star performerA Business Insider article titled, “These 9 behaviors separate star employees from everyone else,” is about research done by Zenger/Folkman, a leadership consulting firm. Based on an analysis of 50,000 out of 360 performance evaluations, the firm came up with nine behaviors that separate good performers from great ones.   First, the deep flaw in this article is the fact that they based their work on a survey. Surveys are vulnerable because they tend to ask only a limited set of questions and are mostly about what others observe, without any deeper insight. In our experience, this is similar to trying to ask the stars what makes them experts, which they can’t answer, because they are unconsciously competent. Third party observations don’t go any deeper. Surveys therefore reflect superficial behaviors, not the underlying mental models that make stars extraordinary.   In our extensive work with star performers, how they think drives their behaviors. If others think incorrectly, then they can’t learn the star behaviors.   The behaviors the Zenger/Folkman came up with were: providing honest feedback, being resilient, using good judgment, being accountable, taking initiative, embracing change, volunteering to represent the group, working collaboratively and setting stretch goals.   While these behaviors are correct, as far as they go, and are included in all of our leadership programs, the list misses a crucial part: the importance of mental models, particularly the importance of a compelling purpose.   The closest the article gets to looking at how stars think is their “setting stretch goals” attribute. However, the star’s purpose isn’t as much about traditional goal setting as they are about defining and driving to the social good of a compelling purpose. The term “goals” significantly understates the importance of purpose.   Star performers do the behaviors listed above because they are the best way to achieve their purpose. Without a purpose, individual, ego-centric behaviors will always dominate.   The second flaw in this article is the minimal guidance in how to develop these capabilities. The article only provided a few tactics. It takes substantive time and effort to develop the mindset and capabilities of the star performers. Anyone who suggests that it is easy to do or can be done with the suggestions in this post is seriously misleading the audience.   In our programs we strive to build a sense of a compelling purpose first. Then, each of these attitudes and behaviors are developed with weekly exercises, supported by social learning. It takes five months of work, at the end of which, everyone thinks like a star performer and demonstrates all of these behaviors – and much more.      ]]>

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