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Leverage These 3 Things For Outstanding Success

Leverage These 3 Things For Outstanding Success

When you harness the power of values, talent, performance you set yourself up to achieve outstanding success

As leaders we look for opportunities. We look for where we can find small advantages. Many times, in today’s competitive business environment, small advantages give us big results. We look for ways to assist our teams so they can also find and take advantage of opportunities.

Leveraging the intersection of values, talent and performance is an opportunity that should not be passed up.

Let’s define some terms, so we have a shared understanding as we go through this article.

  • Values define who I am, not who I want to be.
  • Talent defines what I bring to the game, not what I might bring to the game.
  • Performance defines what I do, not what I could do.

These three things can be leveraged right now to dramatically improve your success, your team's success and the overall success of your organization. It will take a little bit of thought and effort, but harnessing the power of these three things can be done now, as in today, not later. If success is important to you, sooner is better than later.

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players in the modern era, is quoted as saying that great talent wins games, but great teamwork wins championships. Our organizations are in it for the long haul. We need to win championships, over and over and over again.

If you can get the members of your team focused on Values, Talent and Performance, you significantly improve your chances of winning championships, time and time again.

Let’s imagine an illustration of Values, Talent and Performance. A venn diagram is where domains overlap. Picture Values, Talent and Performance as separate domains outlined as overlapping circles. These three overlapping circles form a venn diagram, and the center area where these domains overlap illustrates the power of connecting Values, Talent and Performance.

One of these domains alone is significant. Two of these in combination are more powerful. All three of these connected is dramatic.


It’s OK for you to roll your eyes when you hear the word values. We hear about values so often the word values has almost become meaningless. Don't be swayed by that over familiarity. Though the word is getting overused, values are so important. Whether overused, inappropriately used, or misused, values remain core to your success as a leader, and to the success of your team. The values you follow form the basis for decision making, the basis for your reason for being, and fuel the motivation for your team.

Over the course of my career, I have worked in the public sector, healthcare and higher education. A common value for me has been service to others. In some form, this has been a value for many of these organizations. Fortunately, it is also a personal value. As a human resource practitioner, this remains a core value. As the leader of a team, I expect this to be a core value for my team.

This short article is not about determining your values; that is a broader topic for another day. If you know what your values are, find a way to make sure everyone on the team knows and shares those values. The entire team must know, be able to articulate, and be able to describe how they follow or adhere to shared values.

You might have values for your department or work area that are stated differently than the organization's values, however, your department values should be aligned with and support the organization's higher level values.

For values to have impact, to be meaningful, to be used, they must be articulated and all your team members must know what they are.


Talent Acquisition is a current buzz phrase for hiring new employees. In many companies, talent managers recruit and hire new staff. The genesis of the talent emphasis is based on a desire or a need to attract and retain more than just a new hire. We want new hires that are talented. I have been recruiting and hiring in some form or fashion for almost 30 years. The core imperative is to find new employees who have the KSAs (knowledge, skill and ability) and OCs (other characteristics) to be outstanding members of the team. You have to decide what is important to your organization when picking from a long list of KSAOCs -- sometimes pronounced as "k-socks."

Some companies hire for skills and train other characteristics. Some hire for attitude and train job skills. There are as many permutations as there are jobs and KSAOCs — meaning, there are millions of combinations. Some hiring approaches are championed louder than others. The past few years has seen lots of suggestion to “hire for attitude and the rest will follow.” While this may be true, it may also not be true. It depends on what you and your organization needs.

Define talent as hiring for what you want and what you want is what you need. So, hire for what you need. This is key: Make sure you define what you need from talent is such a way that it aligns with and supports your values. Don't hire the tallest, most aggressive rebounder if you are running horses in the Kentucky derby and need a new jockey.

Make sure the type of talent you need connects in a very real way to what you value. Way too often talent discussions begin and end with “education and experience” statements — something like "must have a bachelor's degree in a related field and three to five years of relevant experience." While this might be a good place to start, most likely it will not be enough to get full alignment with values. There are definitely other key talent KSAOC criteria to consider. Go beyond the basics and make sure the talent your organization attracts and retains matches your values.


There are as many ways to debate performance as there is actual performance. Some experts say toss out performance evaluations, others say just measure outcomes, and some say focus on behavior. No approach is better or worse than the other. What is important — if you choose to measure performance — is what you choose to measure and how you choose to measure. However, the performance portion of this powerful trilogy is not about your performance management system. Those systems are mere constructs — the performance aspect we are concerned with here is what we can think of as actual performance. Performance is made up of those things each person does on a moment by moment, day to day basis. It is about all the small, integrated, intertwined behavioral choices made during the game. We are concerned with actual behaviors that drive performance. It is not about whether the team will show up for the game — it is about how each person on the team consistently gives everything they have in order to achieve sustainable success.

As with many things, there is no one size fits all; there is no blueprint or template you can layer in to solve for this. You need to determine for and with the team what values, talent mix and performance expectations are needed. Discuss this with your team. Get the input of high performance team members — your A players — and more importantly, get input from customers.

Here is a short example. One of the things I have addressed with managers and bosses over the course of my career are questions or comments about physical presence in an office. I have a tendency to spend more time out of my office than in it. I do this because for me a personal and a team value is related to service to the customer. I believe I can deliver better service by going to the places where managers and employees work, rather than waiting for them to come and find me. There are those who either don’t understand this value or value other things, and believe I and my staff should always be in the office in case someone comes by and has a question. Staying in an office and waiting for customers might work in some settings, but not in all. For me, getting out and actively visiting work areas is a performance behavior. After some discussion, it is possible to reach an understanding about why I don’t stay in my office all the time.

I share this example for two reasons. First, it is a pretty boring example. That is the point. So much of what we do is normal, is routine, is not over the top, is customary — we take it for granted. Yet, within this extraordinary routine we can still link values, talent and performance. Second, I share this example as a way of showing that something fairly simple can be viewed by others very differently. Proactive customer service (value) is supported by the ability to engage (talent) with managers and employees where they work and is measured by the behavior of actively visiting (performance) work areas.

Having a shared understanding means those on the team have alignment between values, talent and performance.

Action steps you can take right now —

  1. Take time to put your values in writing. What values drive your team? Are those team values or are they personal values? Do the values you articulated connect to why the organization exists? Do they support higher order strategic values? Are these values understandable? Do you revisit values periodically for updating? Do they connect to talent and performance?
  1. Take time to describe in writing the talent mix you need for success. Do you have ways to describe talent in a consistent way? Do you know how to connect talent needs to articulated values? Do you discuss values when evaluating talent? Are values an integral part of talent management? Do you review values with your team periodically to ensure a shared understanding?
  1. Take time to put performance expectations in writing. Do you expect outstanding performance? Does your team perform, whether formally measured or not? What performance is expected that might not be part of a formal performance measurement program? Does your team know what these are? Does each person on your team perform in alignment with values?

Can you articulate your organizations values?

Can you articulate your work areas values?

Is your talent acquisition linked to these values?

Do you define performance expectations that are linked to values and talent?

The intersection of your values, highly aligned talent and value driven performance will result in tremendous success. It drives culture. It drives outcomes. It drives future growth. In short, the intersection of values, talent and performance is everything.

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Philip Espinosa partners with people to deliver value: People | Partnerships | Value serves as his tag line. As a strategic human resources leader, he believes that service starts with the customer. His book "Deliver Excellent Customer Service with a SNAP” helps others drive customer engagement using simple and consistent communication strategies. A second book titled "Focus On Your Success - 24 Simple Insights To Drive Daily Achievement" (ebook) helps working professionals view their daily choices through a different perspective. In addition to his writing, Philip works with strategic human capital initiatives and has delivered successful results over a career spanning more than 25 years.

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