Edwin Moses is considered a World Class track and field athlete, he holds the longest ever winning streak of 122 wins for the 400 meter hurdles and has collected 8 1st’s across the Olympics, World Championships, IAAF World Cups and the Goodwill games, oh and broke the world record four times in his career. I guess you could say he is a high performer. Business leaders can learn a lot from what makes athletes successful, the biggest thing that stands out is their priorities.

According to McKinsey & Company, a World Class management consultancy, the two key priorities of a World Class organization should be Performance and Health. In their book ‘Beyond Performance’ authors Scott Keller and Colin Price define Organizational Health as the ability of the organization to align, execute and renew itself faster than its competitors for sustained performance. They consider this to be as important as focusing on the traditional priorities of business Performance, that’s because healthy organizations get things done quicker, better and with more impact than unhealthy ones.

I guess Edwin Moses would agree, if his priorities were just Performance he would be only focused on the stopwatch and not on all the aspects of his health that led to world class results. However, most organizations I have dealt with over the past 20 years have focused primarily on Performance with very little understanding let alone focus on Health. There are good reasons for this, shareholder expectations, short term focus, margin pressure, innovative competitors etc etc. But ask yourself these questions: Did Edwin Moses have the same challenges? Did he face threats from competitors and pressure of an international stage? and Did he stop prioritizing his focus on Health?. If he did he would not have even qualified. Business has had the wrong balance of priorities for long enough and McKinsey agrees.

The 12 elements of organizational Health include :

      • Direction
      • Leadership
      • Culture
      • Accountability
      • C0ordination
      • Capabilities
      • Motivation
      • External Orientation
      • Innovation
      • Learning
      • Agility
      • Governance

World Class organizations ensure that all 12 elements are resourced and prioritized. The results speak for themselves, in ‘Beyond Performance’ organizations with high Health are 2.2 times more likely to have an above median EBITDA margin, 2.0 times more likely to have above median growth in enterprise value to book value and 1.5 times more likely to have above median growth in net income to sales. Now who wouldn’t want to have that type of performance?

Hence, it turns out that best practices that underpin high performance have a priority on Health. Another benefit is that unlike many key factors that influence performance, i.e. customer behavior, competitive moves, regulatory changes, your organization’s health is something that you can control. Considering that more than 50% of an organizations success in the long term is driven by its Health this is great news for leaders and managers of business. It means that the efficacy of initiatives on health will lead to more predictable results.

I am certain that Edwin Moses knew this, he prioritized all the elements that would lead to his success mainly his health, fitness, nutrition, mental state, flexibility and energy levels before considering performance. This ensured long-term sustainable success and led to his dominance over a 10 year period and against much younger competitors. Focusing on controlling what you can and learning to let go of the elements that you can’t is easier said than done but is what sets the World Champs apart. Understanding the concepts of Flow for both personal and organizational benefits is also critical.

Flow conditions:

  • Clear and aligned goals
  • Real time feedback
  • Balance between Challenge and Skill
  • Space of Inspiration, Autonomy and Purpose

Finally, High Performance organizations are made up of values aligned individuals in pursuit of a mission, where trust and transparency is inspired by what people do not just by what they say. This leads to a state of Self Governance which is the ultimate state of High Performance, this is where an organization out behaves its competition because of its healthy state.

To understand how to go about this we strongly suggest engaging with Australian Corporate Wellness and Flow Engine. Our Diagnostic tools and Engagement models will help you identify a path to help make your company World Class.