The Pressure of Performance


Have you ever thought about the way we apply pressure to a problem as something to measure, like the PSI on a bicycle tire?

Think about your own Personal “PSI”; too little and procrastination sets in, too much and we overinflate and threaten to pop.

In the pit crew of your crew, what’s the ideal amount of “Pressure of Performance” to deliver peak performance? 

Micromanagement and fear-based leadership applies too much negative pressure.

Consider this real email from The Boss:

“I want to see hard dates and milestones in Trello, and a commitment toward meeting them, please. I know we gave ourselves a broad window to turn around products to them but we need to stay on top of it. Her husband is a lawyer and I am not interested in any legal issues 🙂 Thank you for your attention to this.”

Depending on the recipient’s very real response to fear-based leadership language, they may freeze in inaction, fawn in gratuitous apologies and overcompensation, or fight in defensiveness, maybe even blaming the client or co-worker when faced with the very idea of intimidating legal action toward the company.

None of those outcomes are good for anybody—or the project / work itself.

It’s hard to know where to draw the line on fostering a culture of empowered autonomy and actively directing the work. (As long as you lean into progressive leadership, you can’t really lose anyway. That old-school, fear-based stuff is not the kind of pressure innovators and problem-solvers need to thrive.)

Pay extra attention to the way your team responds to pressure and set a note on your ideal PSI for peak performance. Be aware of what happens under too much; and what happens (or doesn’t happen, amirite?) with too little pressure. Get familiar with the sweet spot.

The ROI for your attention here is an inspired team, not a controlled one. 

When people get personal satisfaction working on things and learning together as a team, anything is possible.

And we mean anything.

Want to develop the most innovative up-and-coming cohort of executive leadership to grow commensurate with your business development goals in the next 5 years? Bake leadership training into the DNA of your operations.

Want to launch a thousand entrepreneurs from your beloved pizza brand; keep disrupting the industry by investing heavily in your employees. (Hey, it worked for Zingerman’s, why not us?)

This level of innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, or a negative pressure-pot of fear and anxiety. It happens when leaders apply just the right amount of positive pressure.

How have you clocked your own (or your team’s) PSI? Let’s connect; share your story of discovery for the right amount of Pressure of Performance and how it made your latest innovation or breakthrough happen.


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