What Exactly Is a High Performing Mindset at Work?

I have conducted an extensive review and analysis of over 30 years of published research that has illuminated the psychological capabilities of people including leaders who excel in their fields of endeavor.

The following diagram represents the different psychological capabilities that different major contributor have made to our understanding of the mindset of top performers.


Additional research has identified aspects of the mental make-up of high performers and leaders including: authenticity (e.g., Gardner, et. al, 2011), goal setting (e.g., Locke & Latham, 2006), self-efficacy (e.g., Bandura, 1977), confidence (e.g.,Kase, 2009), optimism (e.g., Youssef & Luthans, 2007), positive self-regard (e.g., Rogers, 1961), creativity (e.g., Pink, 2005), respect (e.g., Katzenbach & Smith, 2003), support (e.g., Randall, et. al., 1999), providing performance feedback (e.g., Jordan & Audia, 2012), positivity vs. negativity bias (e.g., Baumeister, et. al., 2001) and organisation/time management (e.g., Tavokali, 2013).

Whether presented in a list or in a diagram, the different types and number of positive psychological capabilities appear overwhelming and difficult to keep track of. That being the case, in 2013, I organised and categorised these qualities into what I call The High Performance Capability Framework. These positive psychological capabilities constitute the High Performance Mindset at Work.

Today’s high performer has three paramount commitments or foundational purposes in life:

  • Commitment to Success – self-directed, optimistic, growth (life long learning), creative, tolerant of high frustration
  • Commitment to Others – acceptance of others, empathic, respectful, supportive, feedback (provided constructively)
  • Commitment to Self – self-accepting, positive self-regard, authentic, positive focus (including gratitude to others), healthy life style

These three commitments do not always develop at the same time. For some people, the commitment to success emerges first while later in life, commitments to others and to self, become more important.

It is also clear that top performers have a mindset to respond positively to tough situations and call on five well-developed behavioural strengths throughout every aspect of their work and life when needed:

  • Self-Management – in highly demanding situations and with difficult people, awareness, control of emotions and behaviours;
  • Confidence – prepared to attempt very difficult tasks without fear of failure or criticism by others in order to learn from experience and improve;
  • Persistence – complete highly frustrating and time-consuming work activities;
  • Organisation – long-term goals big, short-term goal realistic, daily goals specific; system for keeping track of information; effective time management and task analysis skills;
  • Getting Along – work supportively and collaboratively with others, ability to form relationships and to network, conflict resolution and to relate positively to difficult people.

What has been said to me by many people is that many of the elements of the framework (for example, empathy, healthy living, positive focus, growth mindset) are not new; however, the way I have organised the elements into three Commitments and five Behavioural Strengths seems to them to make sense. Furthermore, people who are familiar with the framework remark that it enables them to focus on concrete aspects of themselves to develop that can make them better at what they do.

The various High Performance Mindset at Work learning and development programs have as their central purpose to help participants become aware of the elements of the high performance mindset and reflective on ways they can develop their work beliefs and behavioural strengths in order respond more positively and effectively to tough work situations and engage in high impact leadership behaviours.


“Commitments, powerful attitudes and well-developed behavioural strengths that enable top performers to respond positively and effectively in tough situations as well as to demonstrate ‘high impact’ work performance behaviour and leadership capability.” – Michael E. Bernard, Ph.D.

Those readers interested in References used in this research can click here.

April 24, 2014 5:43 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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This post was written by Bernard Group

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