Caroline Currid is one of Ireland’s leading performance psychologists working with corporate and sports clients in Ireland and abroad. She is a highly sought-after figure in the field of elite performance with sporting clients including; GAA All-Ireland winning teams Tyrone, Dublin, Tipperary and Limerick, Ireland rugby legend Paul O’Connell and Kenyan 800-metre Olympic champion David Rudisha.
In the business world, Caroline has worked with a variety of top CEOs, executives and senior management teams including Genzyme, O2 and Bank of Ireland to name but a few. Caroline demonstrates, through her high-performance fundamentals model, the obvious parallels between elite athletes and teams – be it from the sporting or business worlds.
Caroline recently spoke about high performance at a Skillnet Ireland seminar. To find out more about effective leadership and the essential dynamics of a high functioning team we asked Caroline to take us through her six high performance fundamentals.
1. Understand values
Understanding why you do what you do and knowing your purpose helps drive performance, behaviour and fulfilment. It builds resilience to the pressures of daily life and helps avoid your mindset drifting. Having a clear objective supports our intrinsic value system and drives our behaviours. Understanding the value of why you do something consistently and seeing it in action, for example, meeting a satisfied client or happy customer makes you aware of the tangible value it brings to others.
2. Plan the process
Knowing your purpose is vital but how you’re going to plan the process is essential to getting there. When mapping out a successful game plan, break down goals into smaller micro-goals or mid-sized goals, set over a daily or monthly time frame. Getting your team involved in designing the game plan helps engage people, maintain focus and brings people together. Your team are the experts and it’s important to listen and take on board their views. Bringing people together as a team makes them less individually focused, more engaged as a collective unit and keeps them strategically focused on achieving their end goal. Essentially, your process is the logical plan that will move your team forward.
3. How will you measure performance?
Accountability is important for performance, on both an individual and team level. Set the measurements and hold yourself and your team accountable to them. Be clear on the consequences if performance targets are not met. Constant feedback is necessary and setting up a table of consequences helps with structured decision making and determining alternative solutions in any given scenario. This helps remove emotion and relies on the logical side of your brain. Measurement does not have to be purely quantitative, it can be qualitative as well. For example, it could be based on following guidelines or measuring behaviour. Agreeing to a standard of conduct and keeping track with a simple measurement tool can help improve the overall performance of an organisation.
4. Setting standards
High performance means continuously pushing yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. Setting standards and maintaining them drives people forward in achieving and even surpassing their own goals and expectations. It’s extremely hard to have everything and sacrifices must be made when it comes to moving forward. If you try to be high performing at everything, you end up diluting your standards. Maintaining an attitude of “train hard, win easy” keeps a strong focussed mindset, which is essential to high performance. The willingness to be the best means accepting sacrifices and focussing on the present.
5. Honest communication
When it comes to honest communication, use caution when it comes to pleasing others. Do not overuse an inherent human trait of people-pleasing to avoid conflict. Doing so can make a strength become a weakness. Have the hard conversations and don’t brush things under the carpet, as not being honest can take a toll on a person’s self-worth. In a team situation, it is vital to have honest communication, give people a sense of ownership and appreciation of their work. In the long run, honesty is often the best policy.
6. Be a collective unit
Operating as a collective unit and listening ensure that a team of people can be brought together to achieve a common objective. Working together as one unit helps people understand each other and open up, meaning challenges are discussed and people are not afraid to be vulnerable. A team must play or work for each other, with everyone being treated with the same value and respect. Having this fierce commitment to each team member sets up a high-performance environment where everyone can have a positive influence on each other.
These six fundamentals are key drivers for high performance in sport, business and much more. However, Caroline concludes that believing in yourself is ultimately the most important part of a winning mindset, no matter what field you’re playing in.
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To find out more about high performance coaching for your business or team visit Caroline’s website.