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Is it time to rethink the HPE?

Is it time to rethink the High Performance Environment?

The drive for high performance is at the core of most businesses. “Striving for more”, “Searching for the marginal gains”, “Doing more with less” become the standard mantras for many leadership and development programmes.

I believe it is time to explore whether this is a healthy and desirable way to operate. The seduction of ‘raising the bar’ and the relentless competitive drive to push for more could actually be doing us harm.

With an obsessive focus on results and outcome there is a real danger of losing sight of the core values and ethics that keep our communities and societies intact.

At its darkest edges the extremes of high performance environments demonstrate behaviours that are at best unethical and at their worst are dangerous and illegal.

In sport the uncompromising pursuit of excellence has lead some athletes into the world of performance enhancing drugs. WADA and other agencies have to work hard to stay ahead of those who will find unfair means to chase performance gains.

In the world of business recent scandals in the banking sector illustrate the dark side of an industry driven by bottom line profits. Governments and the legal system are again playing catch up to legislate and close loopholes that companies could exploit for unfair gain.

An alternative does exist that still allows for growth, that still encourages innovation and allows people to flourish and succeed. Concepts such as ‘conscious capitalism’ are used to describe a new way of operating. Building on mechanisms that encourage growth and healthy competition we see very successful companies that operate within ethical boundaries and protect, support and contribute to the societies and economies within which they operate.

It is time to be conscious of the way we operate. We can shift from leadership behaviours that promote continual striving and lead to stress and burnout. Instead we can discover the conditions in which people thrive – where people are nurtured and grow, where we create sustainable performance that promotes longevity and a healthy working environment.

Maybe it is time to think whether your leadership style could do more to create the conditions in which people truly thrive.

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