Loads have been researched about HPO (high performance organization). Needless to mention that each organization would like to be a HPO. This intent needs serious effort to be translated into result.
I think, the serious first step is the way the leader acts with all the stakeholders of the organization; if the sense of purpose is clear and inspiring. Think of Indian Cricket Team defending the World cup! At a high level, this seems simple and obvious, however when it is business as usual, there are situations where the sense of purpose isn’t clear and the leader’s action might not inspire the team. It could be a decision around the final playing eleven, batting order, bowling change and so on. For an enterprise, similar such situations come up every now and then. How does the leader deal with someone who doesn’t have numbers on board or is accused of wrong-doing or facing criticism from a key customer or having a tough situation at home which is draining all his energies? On one hand, the leader has to uphold the meritocratic values of an HPO, demonstrate fairness and on the other, has to value the potential of the person, promote retention of talented people and give another chance. Ultimately, it boils down to the balance that the leader is able to show between two seemingly opposite dimensions not compromising what is the priority for the organization.
I think, the second most important is about execution. While there are so many tools available to help leaders set expectations, monitor performance and course-correct, it is easier said than done. This calls for tremendous amount of discipline, patience and optimism to keep doing the same cycle each day or hour. It’s not very easy because boredom of monotony can break the rhythm and one falls out of step. This is a belief of the leader that things have to be kept simple so that communication is very easy. There are legendary examples of enterprises where the strategy is communicated in such a simple way to all levels of the employees that they know what is important for the organization and they keep doing it. They are trained on those again and again. Everyone speaks the same language and the metrics of success are clear to everyone.
It is natural that the organization along its way will face some conflicts, be at crossroads. Those are the moments of truth when the cornerstone of strategy and values are tested; the tone is set by the leaders and these incidents remain in the organization as a guide for ever. For example, Southwest Airlines said, they made money when the plane was in the air. Amazon keeps an empty chair in their meetings designating it for their customer and the participants of a meeting refer to the figure of Mr. Customer when they have a confusion. These cultural aspects of a company set it apart from its peers and instills a sense of purpose and pride in its ranks. Consistent demonstration of the same behaviour during its execution cycle creates vitality and strength in its fabric. This execution-centric culture is possibly not very exciting, but very effective to deliver high-performance consistently.
In summary, high performance gets delivered when its leader behaves, communicates, monitors and guides consistently on a unique set of principles and priorities.