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How to Build an Organization of Encore Performers

Mark Sanborn is a celebrated speaker and the international bestselling author of The Fred Factor, a book about developing leadership and becoming an exceptional individual. He is passionate about developing leaders in business and life to help them achieve their full potential.

I recently talked with Sanborn on the HR Break Room podcast about how to improve your leadership ability and get even better once you’ve already become great at what you do. Here are three of my main takeaways from the interview.

1. Be an encore performer in your organization.

One of the key elements Sanborn introduced in our conversation is the concept of an “encore performer.” These employees within an organization are so good at what they do that their colleagues demand more of them. Encore performers add something special to their workplace that nobody else can, and that makes them stand out.

He described a close friend named Fred Stork who raised award-winning roses. Anytime Fred gave someone kudos or an award, he also would give the person one of his prized roses. That was a unique touch that only he could bring to his recognition of others.

The takeaway there is to make a positive, signature difference. Nobody can keep you from choosing to be extraordinary.

2. Have a driving philosophy that develops leaders and encore performers.

HR often is seen primarily as an operational part of an organization, but it’s really all about finding the right people and enriching them. You know that human resources means adding value to your organization through your people. Especially in the age of technology, it’s important to keep that human element in the work your HR department does.

The philosophy that guides your company culture should encourage employees to become encore performers who add to the organization, and eventually grow into leaders. It’s important that everyone knows how to lead – and just as importantly, when to lead within their own teams. This philosophy can help establish a culture of encore performers and leaders.

3. Being better is a more powerful motivator than being the best.

Once you’ve become an encore performer who is great at what you do, how do you continue to do even better? After all, it’s easy to go from bad to average. It’s more difficult to go from average to good, and it’s even more of a challenge to go from good to great. The better you become, the harder it is to keep improving. The gains are harder fought; they are more nuanced and incremental. That means you’ll have to look in new areas to develop improved techniques. If you don’t make these adjustments, you’ll plateau.

To reach your full potential – to fulfill your potential principle, as Sanborn would say – it’s important to keep challenging yourself each and every day. We don’t know just how good we can become! And because your potential is uncharted, why not see how much better you can be today than you were yesterday?