I attended the HCL O2+ event in Sunnyvale, CA earlier this week. It was a great occasion which recognized Outstanding Performers who have consistently performed at extraordinary levels and worked extensively hard over the years. What intrigued me was meeting the amazing talent, some who have been champions for multiple years in a row, and many for 5+ years! What motivated them to constantly be the best at what they do? How did they do it all the time, every time in a global and intensively competitive environment? I spoke with some of them after the event, in a separate one to one meeting, to delve deeper into what made them beat the odds and be the champions they all are…
There are many elements to being a champion on a long term and continuous basis. Some key attributes which emerged through these discussions:
Focus, purpose and sense of ownership – clearly among the top parameters, champions have an intense ability to focus on what matters most and train themselves to focus on the bigger picture to create higher impact. They also have the power to move away from the layers of noise and distractions. All of them have a tremendous sense of purpose, self-belief and can-do attitude. They do not yield till they overcome all known and unknown problems to find the right solution, irrespective of the time it takes, whether it is a day, week, month or in some cases, even a year. Staying power to beat all the odds is ingrained in them.
Love what you do – incredible love for the work you do shows in the results. This is another key attribute for being a consistent champion over a long period of time. Champions truly love whatever they are doing on a limitless basis. Of course, changes in the environment are inevitable – projects change, teams change, managers change, customers change, locations change… However in spite of all the variables, I noticed an amazing consistency in their views toward what they do on both short term tasks and long term programs…
Pride and belonging – a huge sense of pride in what you do and a mega sense of belonging to the team are built into consistent performers. It was incredible to hear how grateful they all are to their families, team members, managers, customers, etc. Feeling that they are part of a larger ecosystem helps them draw energy from it and contribute to long-term success. Humility is a virtue I found in all of them. It provides them with a solid foundation and allows them to consistently excel. They also talked about giving back to the ecosystem, the teams and particularly the newcomers. There is always an emotional connect and that, in a true sense, is belonging. Pride and honor are key individual characters, which keep them focused towards excellence.
Risk takers and contrarians – all have a why-not attitude. Champions do not like status quo situations and are risk takers, either by nature or by training themselves over a period of time. They like to explore, experiment and find new ways to problem solving, many times unconventionally as well. They all like to push the envelope and stretch the imagination boundaries.
Hands-on and results focused – all of them are extremely hands-on and immensely focused on results. Though all of them work in large teams, it is very interesting to note that being hands-on has clearly helped them always be at the edge to solve problems and gain critical insights. Consistent champions are always hands-on even while working with large and diverse global teams. Results focus is another element which I found to be common. Champions always deliver much more than what they signed up for. They never fall into the trap of excuses. Their firm belief that “reasons do not matter, results do” sets them apart.
Thanks to Vijay, Pushpanathan and Sowmya for sharing their insights… You and all others in the League of Champions represent a new genre of leadership. All of you make us PROUD… Congrats Champs!