Press "Enter" to skip to content

The ‘Difference between High Performers and High Achievers’

A frank discussion with Terry Enlow

There are a lot of privileges that go along with being part of the Talent Talks team.  One of them is the exciting people we have the opportunity to meet and interview.  Last week I had a very fortuitous meeting with Korn Ferry Hay Group’s Terry Enlow, a Global Regional Sales Director specialising in Leadership and Talent Consulting. It was a particularly interesting morning as I met with Terry, a fellow American, literally after the announcement that Donald Trump had just been confirmed the new President of the United States of America.  Terry was visiting South Africa and speaking on a very critical topic – “The difference between High Performers and High Achievers.” The topic really resonated with me.

Our discussion began with a very profound question from Terry. In his vast array of professional experience that includes working in 42 different countries Terry asked me “Is there really a difference globally and within Africa when it comes to leadership and one’s approach to skill development”?

Terry’s view is that there is a large misconception within African companies that needs a necessary paradigm shift. The talent issues experienced in Africa are no different to the pains explored and questioned globally when it comes to the efficiency of staff and excellence as an output around the world. In fact, assessments conducted by the group indicate that the top five skills required of a good future leader are no different from the bottom five skills stipulated in global reports.  Are we different culturally, absolutely, but at the end of the day we struggle with the same issues that the rest of the world experiences when it comes to the right people, doing the right job at the right time – particularly when it comes to leaders.

Regardless, we all start at the same place. Behavioural competencies are a necessary evil and successful leaders know this and are tuned into what actions and behaviours are required to drive success in their organisations. Wrong decisions are costly and the question is:  “How does one mitigate the risk of the wrong person in the job and how do we identify high potential employees within our organisations?” Terry said there are a few key points that need to be considered:

  • Personality traits
  • Personal drivers and motives
  • Problem-solving skills, and
  • Learning agility.

What I thought was very important to note was the ability to learn from one’s experience. An individual’s experiences around hardship and stress are key when selecting the right leader or person for the job.  Reflection is vital and we should never underestimate the importance of applying the learning to different situations.

He added that not all the best leaders should be placed in the best performing business units and it is very important for organisations to reset their risk tolerance towards their people. Organisations need to ask themselves:

  1. What talent do I have (take inventory of everyone)?
  2. What is the gap?
  3. What skill sets are required?
  4. What is the business strategy, and how is this aligned to an individual’s learning journey?

He continued by saying that 70% of learning happens on the job – and basically we need to ask ourselves: “Who can we take the risk with?” Our staff need the ‘right’ situations to learn in. Can you see yourself taking a staff member out of one role and putting him into another, purely for the purpose of learning new skill sets that can be applied in a different environment later on? The ‘right roles’ where the learning journeys of individuals is cemented is so critical to success.

Another key reflection shared is that organisations need to start rewarding leaders that grow other leaders. Not all performance systems within organisations reward such an action. Having an ‘abundance mentality’ is crucial to this shift and Terry says leaders need to become ‘effective coaches’ to subordinate leaders. A world of value unravels in the most extraordinary way. Can you imagine the power of a ‘success profile’ with identified behavourial competencies that give indication to performance and potential success, an individual learning journey inclusive of a different job for a period of time together with an effective senior leader as a coach? This would take corporate learning and personal development to a new height.

So, at the end of the day the topic of competencies becomes a vital one when developing leaders in a 21st-century workplace. Linking them to the business strategy, the ‘success profile’ of a role and getting staff to:

  1. Become aware of competencies and the importance thereof
  2. Become motivated adults taking action and being accountable around one’s responsibilities and aspirations at work
  3. Understand that organisations can become supportive of this and their respective individual learning journeys.

Start to really become key tools to defining success in a business environment that are accompanied with the ‘right leaders doing the right job’.
In closing, Terry Enlow left me with two key messages:

  • Do not be afraid to be part of the norm. Embrace norms – help with the business transformation, do not try and make things up yourselves.
  • There is a periodic table of leadership behaviours – it can be a chemical reaction for your leaders. It is an enabler and can really help organisations set the path to true leadership success in a 21st-century

I could not resist some final comments on Donald Trump and his leadership attributes.  Terry concluded our conversation by saying that Donald displays true servant leadership.  The people that work for him ‘adore’ him.  He has good communication skills (albeit his Hillary Clinton interruption techniques), he is tech savvy, has sound business skills and recognises performance of staff and encourages them.
More importantly, love or hate him, I think he is authentic. There is no mistaking that Mr Trump says exactly what he feels.   Perhaps this is what spoke to the American nation, honesty in it rawest form.



terryTerry Enlow is Regional Sales Diretor with Korn Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting, based in the firm’s Minneapolis office.
Mr Enlow specialises in helping clients implement the Lominger suite of talent management products, solutions, and services. His specific focus areas include competency modeling, high-potential identification, talent selection, and leadership development strategies. In his current role, Mr Enlow supports client engagements in over 42 EMEA locations.

Mr Enlow’s clients include Fortune 100 companies in the consumer, pharmaceutical, industrial, technology, non-profit, and financial services sectors.

Prior to joining the Firm in 2007, Mr Enlow was an internal HR consultant for Wells Fargo, managing a team of recruiters setting workforce planning strategy for sixteen states. He also has experience in executive and middle management search as well as nearly two decades as a senior operations leader in the retail and consumer goods industry.

Mr Enlow’s career has included working on expansion projects, turnaround opportunities, and start-ups. His work experience has taken him from Kansas to Minneapolis, Detroit, Dayton, Chicago and London

Mr Enlow holds a master’s degree in organisational development with a minor in leadership from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

WEBSITE:  www.kornferry.com/haygroup
CONTACTS:  South Africa – Kathy Mumford kathy.mumford@kornferry.com

Share on...