Apr 18 2019| Values | Leadership

Five Hallmarks of High Performing Leaders

Identifying the traits that phenomenal leaders share

by Phil Eyre Founder

 Through our work with leadership teams, we have the privilege of meeting and working with some exceptional people.

We recognise that, despite their differences, these high performers share common traits that anyone can apply to their own leadership.



  1. They Are Relentlessly Positive

High performers embrace opportunities and challenges.

A can-do attitude towards opportunities, blended with a hopeful mindset when problems arise, creates a powerful foundation for achieving success. 

This is not the same as living in denial. In fact, we often observe a positive attitude, expressed in determination, effort and grit rather than exuberance or casual dismissiveness.

This is nothing new, yet it is quite difficult to achieve. Humans are wired for the easier option; it’s more efficient for our brains to take an easier path, especially if our basic needs are met.

We are also generally pre-disposed towards the negative. Fear is a powerful emotion and whilst it can help us avoid potential catastrophic danger, fear can cause us to limit ourselves unnecessarily.

High performers overcome these tendencies, applying their energy positively.


  1. They Avoid Complacency At All Costs 

High performing leaders refuse to assume that what’s worked in the past will work again in the future. 

They apply rigour and critical thinking to new challenges, learning from prior solutions but not blindly following the same ideas.

They continually seek new perspectives, actively inviting ideas from outside of their usual circle, including from their sharpest critics. “Every criticism has some germ of truth, something we can learn from”, one leader told us.

They actively challenge comforting beliefs, “our customers can wear the increased cost, they won’t mind”; “our people are loyal and will live with this change”, seeking credible evidence that points to the facts of the situation.

By constantly avoiding complacency, these leaders have honed their avoidance skills. They can see problems coming and take pre-emptive action.


  1. They Show Up - Consistently

High performers recognise that consistent effort creates the greatest success; they always show up and bring their best to every situation.

The most successful people are energised by the journey towards a goal far more than achieving the goal itself.

  • When the business is winning, they show up;
  • When the business is struggling, they show up;
  • They celebrate successes, then get back to work;
  • They digest losses, then get back to work.

In The Passion Paradox, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness put it like this: “Go big or go home often results in you going home.”

It is in taking consistent steps forward that real success is achieved.


  1. They Don’t Just Decide, They Take Action

It’s easy to discuss ideas, identify opportunities and decide what actions to take without implementing them - high performing leaders take action.

We observe these behaviours:

  • The leader or team is relentlessly focused on three or four core high-impact issues, with challenging timelines and clear actions. They will give time to other matters, but not much.
  • Issues on which there will be no new action are removed from the meeting agenda. 
  • Discussions begin with “what decision do we need to make on this today?”
  • Discussions end with actions, and allocation of who is doing what and by when.
  • They don’t deviate without strong evidence that a change in direction is needed.

High performing leaders resist the temptation to discuss endlessly.


  1. They Apply Themselves With Agility

High performers are highly self-aware.

Three classic traits are:

  1. They recognise their productive and counterproductive emotions and skills and harness these effectively.
  2. They are attuned to what energises them and orientate their time towards these activities.
  3. They choose to rest rather than quit.

High performers are equally aware of frustration and irritation building up; they recognise the triggers and either remove them or embrace them as each situation requires.

They plan out their day with this awareness in mind, knowing which situations will tap into their natural strengths and which will be more stretching.

They also have a wealth of tactics to deploy as required, for example; taking a 10 minute walk before a difficult meeting, blocking out their calendar, eating well or scheduling similar meetings together.

High performers recognise how home and work life integrate.

For some, this includes understanding how regular stresses at home affect their working day. For others, it’s recognising the potential for excess negativity around key work dates, such as quarter-end or reporting dates, and how these impact on non-work relationships.

Emotional intelligence - high self-awareness and the ability to adapt to each situation is a key hallmark of high performers.


Our expertise is in enhancing leadership effectiveness and skill. To find out how contact Phil Eyre phil@leadersconsultancy.co.uk today.

About The Author | Phil Eyre

Phil is Leaders’ founder. He has an enthusiastic and inspiring style, drawing on his experience in business, academia and social sectors to help any leadership team to achieve phenomenal performance. Phil has sophisticated expertise in psychometrics and in the application of human data for individual, team and organisational success. He has trained with, and been mentored by, global leaders in this field, notably Dr Chuck Coker in the US. Phil began his career in the UK offshore finance industry in 1994, working for a wealth management company in Guernsey, Collins Stewart (CI) Limited, now Canaccord Genuity Wealth International. Phil was head of the company's Guernsey division, with a staff of 120 and assets under management of £4.5billion before resigning from executive responsibilities in 2008. Phil has served on the boards of three charities, including BMS World Mission, a UK charity with over 80 employees and a global reach. Phil also ran the Guernsey hub of a national theology college, received accreditation as a pastor in the Baptist Union of Great Britain and served as a non-executive director for Canaccord Genuity Wealth International. Phil is a member of the NED Forum and the Institute of Directors.

Next Article