How We Spot Elite Performers and Find Them The Job They Want

Bob Cavoto, Managing Principal & Founder, 20/20 Foresight

As the Winter Olympics approach, we are beginning to see and read coverage of the elite athletes who are “going for the gold.”  Invariably, the segments or feature articles about athletes reaching for the pinnacle of their sports touch on the intangible characteristics that turned a young skier, skater or snowboarder into an elite athlete.

Like Olympic coaches, business leaders are constantly looking for their industry’s version of an elite athlete – that extraordinary executive whose somewhat intangible traits result in achievements that far exceed the results of a typical employee, and can alter the performance of the company or firm that employs her or him. 

So how do we spot elite performers?  How do we ferret out those traits that are tough to determine through psychology tests?

As Adrian Furnham Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today, elite performers "need the sheer drive to succeed."  He adds that, “It is often easier to describe elite performers than understand how they became so good. They seem to see patterns differently and read situations faster. They seem to have a bigger repertoire of options; they look more confident and more in control. It all looks so effortless; but that is not the case.”

Dr. Furnham goes on to note that when looking at talented and elite performers people forget:

1. How much they have and do and will practice.

2. What they have sacrificed for the skill.

3. How they set their own targets.

4. How driven they have had to be.

5. How little they believe in chance, luck and personal gifts.

At 20/20 Foresight Executive Marketing & Job Finding we don't forget.

We agree with Matt Oechsli, the author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients, who wrote in Wealth Management that there are four distinguishing traits of elite performers:  ambition, discipline, self-awareness and deliberate practice.  Does that sound like you?

When evaluating our clients to find them the ideal position we follow a well-honed process.  When it comes to determining if clients possess the traits of elite performers, we utilize our rigorous interviewing process and conduct tests that measure for traits including mental aptitudes and personality dimensions.  

While we believe that companies looking for new executives should take the results from tests into consideration as they offer invaluable insights, it’s hard to test for drive -- and drive is something you need to be a top performer, especially in a high level position.

It’s our in-depth interviews that help us determine not only what technical skills and experience our clients have, but also if they have the ambition, discipline and other key traits listed above to be an elite performer.

Our point of view is that organizations aren’t simply looking for professionals who can fulfill a need; they are looking for candidates who can do the job and, hopefully, exceed their expectations.  And, as executives seeking a new challenge, we know it’s more than a job search to our clients  — it’s finding a job they really want.

If you want to explore the opportunities that exist for top-performing employees, we are here to help you.  Fill out the form on the right and one of our career experts will be in touch.