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Recognize these 12 characteristics in yourself? Then you are probably a high performer!

As a headhunter, it is our experience that high performers typically are very clear on what drives them. They know themselves rather well and what kind of work they do well. Moreover, they are generally good at taking control of their career progression, being clear on what kind of job they prefer and how that job connects to the critical path of a company. They are self-managers enacting targeted self-management—things are seldom left to chance. Finally, high performers set goals. Poor performers seldom set goals and average performers set goals that are general and typically unambitious.


Based on our many years of placing high performers and in alignment with the work of Richard Gerson in his book “Achieving High Performance” (Gerson, 2006) we have identified 12 key characteristics of high performers:

1. They have an innate desire to improve themselves, incited by a high level of energy, commitment and passion.

2. They take control and take on tasks and roles that will allow them to capitalize on their talents and are related directly to the critical path of the company.

3. They are (typically) intrinsically motivated and are focused on creating a basis for job satisfaction.

4. They are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do, always seeking to increase personal effectiveness and efficiency.

5. They are action-oriented people who are focused on adding value to not only themselves but also the organization as a whole.

6. They are holistic in their view and tactful and considerate in their approach.

7. They know more about the competition than the competition knows themselves.

8. They share successes and failures with others and enjoy taking risks.

9. They have positive mind-sets and a positive belief system.

10. They are creative, innovative and are not afraid of experimenting with new ideas or borrowing ideas and techniques from others.

11. They are result-oriented—focused on delivering on goals and objectives, and regularly reviewing their performance to improve.

12. They are efficient time managers—minimizing the level of pointless meetings, etcetera.

If you can recognize the above 12 characteristics, you are most probably a high performer. However, never forget that what truly separates the talented high performer from the occasionally successful one is a lot of hard work and the choices you make in life…


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