Over the Easter break, Murray asked me to read and critique his book. Not only was I honoured with such a request, I decide that this week’s blog post should present Murray and a synopsis of his new book.
Murray rowed for Great Britain at Junior World Championship level. He won at Henley and other national competitions. Completing a career at sea as a captain at twenty-nine he embarked on a thirty year business career. He ran companies in China, Singapore, and the UK in oil & gas, and telecoms. He was also active in the water sectors where he remains a shareholder in a desalination company.
Murray runs a consultancy company, carries out board evaluations under the Governance Code, and delivers leadership and strategy workshops for the Institute of Directors. He is a Chartered Director, Chartered Manager, Fellow of the Institute of Management, and an MBA.
Murray’s book provides an excellent and candid summary of the winning principles that rip apart the methods used in many such books, as well as arguments from evidence-based management.
The book focuses not only on leaders, but on the people who work in complex and highly competitive environments. Those environments need people not only to be the best they can be individually, but to cooperate closely over time to secure long-term winning performances.
In sports, coaches are intimately involved in developing athletes, squads, and teams and bring an impressive array of technology and wide-ranging expertise to bear on all aspects of high performance development. There is much that businesses, especially leaders, can learn from coaches and sports.
Leading High Performance takes those elements of sports coaching that are relevant to businesses and shows how the principles of coaching, sports science, training, and even psychology offer tremendous opportunities for achieving high performance in all organisations. It looks at ways in which high performance is achieved in sport and describes, using examples, how this approach develops individuals while encouraging them towards high performance. It then analyses the most relevant ideas and techniques, converting them into easily applicable business models and tools.
The book then goes on to describe how not only leaders, but people in general rely on their connections with other people for business sustainability, that other people can change our very physiology and our emotions, and how people, especially in groups, can inevitably “catch” feelings from one another. This is especially true of the leadership simply because everyone watches the boss. Even when the boss isn’t visible, his or her attitude affects the mood of his direct subordinates, and a domino effect will eventually ripple through the company’s emotional climate. In this way, the author demonstrates the reason a successful leader must be credible at all times.
The last part of the book describes exactly what is required of the high performance leader to effect results, demonstrating through a bespoke methodology, the performance triangle, how leaders can select followers and develop these people in ways that will offer the highest possible chance of achieving high performance in the organization.
In summary; great performance is as much about the belief system and culture in the organization. These beliefs are found in the vision, ethos and values, leadership, the strategy and plans, in people, and importantly that people are trusted to make things happen.
Murray continues to state that if these core attributes are applied to the business then high-performance leaders must have an overwhelming desire to lead – and that the desire to lead must be for the right reasons. It is only through having this overwhelming desire that they will have the energy, enthusiasm, stamina and drive to undertake the unremitting pressure and sustained hard work required to turn an average organisation into a high performing one.