Two Men In A Coaching Session At Work

Learn from excellence, not failure

Ask a high performer for the secrets of their success

Written by Dr. Shaun Ridley FAIM
2 minute read
Two Men In A Coaching Session At Work

Practice doesn’t make perfect - perfect practice makes perfect. Although we can learn from the failure of others, we are likely to learn much more, and much more quickly, by watching others succeed.

By seeking out the best in your industry or the wider community, you can watch and mirror their behaviour in order to learn from excellence rather than failure.

There are many more ways to fail than there are to succeed, so rather than spending hours learning another way to fall short of high performance, find a way to get close to those who are already excellent performers.

This doesn’t mean you can simply copy the behaviours of others, however their experiences can add inspiration to your toolkit of behaviours, ideas and knowledge.

High performers are often happy to share the secrets of their success.

They are flattered by someone wanting to learn from them and many want to return the gesture they received when developing their skills and knowledge.

High performers generally don’t fear sharing their insights with potential competitors, whether they are competitors for sales or competitors for the next promotion.

This is because they know peak performance takes time and effort, so by the time a person is ready to challenge them, they will have moved ahead having acquired some new skills and behaviours themselves.

Be bold in asking someone if you can watch and learn from them. You don’t need to ask for a six-month opportunity to follow them into every meeting. It could simply be a one-off coffee catch-up, or a chance to see them speak to their staff or prepare a draft business plan.

Take any opportunity on offer. They will all add to your portfolio of learning and will have a cumulative effect on your development as a leader.

By watching several peak performers in action, you will also be able to identify common behaviours that work.

One more small step in the next 24 hours

Make a list of excellent leaders or business practices in your industry. Check with your existing network to see if anyone can help provide an introduction to avoid having to cold call the leaders. Try to make contact with a different leader once every month. This may require multiple calls each month because some may not be willing or able to meet with you. But persevere – it will be worth it.

Ask yourself

What impact could this action have on your leadership success? 

How likely is it you could implement this action successfully?