Leaders Unite – Unlocking Peak Performance: Insights from a 3 Time Olympian


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I recently watched the opening keynote delivered by Janne-Mueller Wieland, a three time Olympian and the captain of the German women’s hockey team at the International SAP Conference for Energy and Utilities and was really excited by the ideas she shared.

I wanted to share this with you and all my friends, hence, writing this post to kind of summarise my learning from the keynote. You can watch her keynote here.

Principle 1: Don’t be a 6

This is the first principle that she shares. She says, that it is never a good idea to be a 6/10. If we were to rate ourselves and/our team, on any relevant or important criteria and if we end up giving ourselves a 6/10, the only thing that this means is that we are playing it safe.

No one gets fired for being a 6. However, we are not pushing boundaries or delivering high performance either.

We are travelling on highways (well traversed path) and not on dirt tracks (path less taken). If we really want to deliver stand out performance, we need to be ok to stand out and do things that others are not doing. So, let’s go for a 9/10 or a 10/10 and fully commit to it.

Principle 2: Staying Above the Line

This is something that I have written about earlier as well (You can read it here). The idea is that staying above the line is all about taking responsibility and showing up with the best versions of ourselves (above the line), rather than displaying the worst of ourselves (below the line).

It is about acceptance rather than fighting reality. It is also about thinking and focusing on solutions and moving forward, rather than complaining about problems and remaining stuck where we are.

Principle 3: One Team. Job + 1

This principle is all about the collective or the team trumping the individual in importance. We don’t need heroes who excel as individuals. We need people who can make others better (MoB).

Of course, individual competence is important. It is just the cost of being considered. But in order to be a part of the team, we need to not only have good competence on what we are hired to do but also be able to do something else at a high level of competence.

In order for us, as leaders to do this, we also need to know those we lead, intimately, and understand what they need us to be, in any given moment to be their best version. We need to go on a journey with them.

Principle 4: Ruthless Focus

This is something that is so obvious, but we all miss all the time. High performance already assumes that we know exactly what we want to achieve. Once, we have agreed on this, as a team, everything that we are expected to do needs to then pass the filter of “Will this get me closer to my goal or not”. If yes, we do it. If no, we pass it on.

We also need to be clear on who will do what today and tomorrow. Focus by definition is about deciding what gets done and what is ignored. Ruthless Focus means that we don’t have any exceptions to this rule. Every single thing that we do moves us closer to the goal or we don’t do it.

Principle 5: Performance Equation

She has come up with the Performance equation, which is quite simply as below:

Performance = Potential – Interference

– Janne-Mueller Wieland

Here, the potential is the collective potential of the team and interference is anything that stops us from realising our potential.

These could be things that we can (How we practice) or can’t control (weather on the day of practice or the game). These could be internal (our emotional state) or external (our physical wellbeing).

The way to significantly up our performance is to work on both the variables, improve our potential and reduce everything that causes interference. Increasing potential is about getting the right people on the team. Reducing interference is about helping them show up and perform at their peak as a team.

This is where all the principles come alive and create a positive spiral and help us deliver high performance.

In conclusion:

In conclusion, I believe that these are nuggets of wisdom that we can use to remember what matters most when we are leading a team. Nothing earth shatteringly new but a kind reminder of ensuring that we get the fundamentals right so that we are consistently delivering high performance as a team.

PS: If you are a leader and would like to continue to discuss and learn from other leaders, please do consider joining a weekly call that I host on Zoom. This is on every Friday between 4:00 and 5:00 PM Singapore time. You can register and join the call here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mukesh Gupta
I currently work for SAP as Customer advocate. In this capacity, I am responsible to ensure that the voice of the customer is being heard and play the bridge between customers and SAP. Prior to joining SAP, I have worked with different organizations serving in different functions like customer service, logistics, production planning & sales, marketing and business development functions. I was also the founder-CEO of a start-up called "Innovative Enterprises". The venture was in the retail & distribution business. I blog at http://rmukeshgupta.com.


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