7 personality traits of a high-performer (and how to become one)

Do you ever wonder what being a high-performer means? Does it mean working harder and longer hours? What exactly elevates a person to the high-performing level?

If you’re aiming to be one – maybe you want to be next in line for that promotion or pay raise or maybe you want to open a small business – you’re in the right place!  

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the unique personality traits of a high-performer. I’ll also discuss the key steps you can adopt today to become a high-performer.

Sound intriguing? Then read on. Your journey to becoming a future leader begins now. Let’s get into it!

The personality traits of a high-performer 

1) They are goal-driven

Here’s the deal: for the high-performer, self-improvement is a way of life. They’re never completely satisfied, always on the lookout for what’s to come. Some of the most successful people I’ve met in life always seem to be asking themselves, “what’s next?”

These folks, whether top-performing employees or business owners, focus their time and energy on their goals, both professional and personal. 

They diligently set aside time every day to assess where they can improve and create realistic goals. They also consistently work towards achieving these goals. 

Have clear goals and write them down. Set achievable and relevant goals that align with your personal and professional hopes and dreams. 

Keep in mind that your goals shouldn’t be all work-related. This brings me to my next point… 

2) They are well-balanced

I find that the famous adage “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is mostly true. If you are constantly working, even if you enjoy it, you risk burnout!

Finding the right balance between your work life and self-care routines, like exercise or spending time with your kids or watching your favorite TV show, is key for healthy productivity that is more sustainable and longer-term. 

During the pandemic, I was constantly working, trying to keep my business afloat. From the moment I woke up to the evening, I was drowned in work, having taken on the roles of several furloughed staff. 

I also never asked for help. Before I knew it, I was on the verge of a breakdown, my relationships were suffering, and I was constantly on edge. 

I decided enough was enough – I enrolled in a gym and committed to going multiple times a week. The simple act of going to a gym regularly, getting endorphins flowing, and taking a break from the stresses of work had a powerful effect on me: it was a release, a distraction that ultimately gave me clarity. 

My mind was less clouded, and I could approach my work problems more strategically. 

I was getting better sleep, I made better decisions, and my overall work life was significantly improved! 

It’s easy to get caught up in work, but everyone needs a break. Self-care and mindfulness should be part of your regular routine. Trust me, it will pay off! Just be consistent. 

3) They are consistent

You may have talent, but to truly excel like a high-performer, you have to put in the work. This simple trait separates the good from the great. 

High-performers have a relentless pursuit of their goals. They are always consistent. They give 110% almost all of the time. 

One of my favorite professional athletes is NBA superstar Giannis Antetokoumpo. Giannis grew up as a Nigerian immigrant in Greece. On paper, the odds of him making it to the NBA were essentially non-existent. 

But he made it to the league and not only excelled; he became one of the best players, already racking up countless accolades in his short career. Giannis attributes his inspiring success to consistent hard work, not just skill or otherworldly athleticism. 

“It takes more than skill to be great,” he said. “But the thing that makes me a bit further is the obsession and discipline I have towards the game.” 

Whether they’re a professional athlete or successful employee, high-performers are fully aware that there is no substitute for showing up and consistently putting in the work. 

4) They are collaborative 

Notice that high-performers tend to have good relationships with others? That’s because high-performers and future leaders see the value in people, whether that’s a professional network or just having solid relationships with colleagues. 

High-performers work well with others, they embrace fresh perspectives and ideas! They don’t claim to know it all, and they like learning from others. 

High-performers often have wider professional networks than average workers. This helps with things like problem-solving or searching for new opportunities. 

Now, building a network doesn’t have to mean going to parties and socializing. It can simply mean understanding the importance of nurturing professional relationships.

By building your network, you’ll know who to turn to when you need help or feedback. High-performers respect their colleagues and want them to succeed as a unit, so they do their part. 

Be strategic about your relationships, and you’ll notice some changes.

Speaking of being strategic…

5) They are strategic

Let’s face it, the high-performing person tends to see the value in planning methodically instead of just winging it. 

Have you ever tried undertaking a work task without any real planning? More often than not, this is a recipe for disaster! 

High-performers get that it’s really important to have a sound plan and strategy for achieving goals. They act with a defined purpose and are able to execute the strategy with mostly good results.

High-performers and future leaders don’t wing it. They know that strategy is both a behavior and a process. They are flexible enough to know that creating a strategy will change depending on the environment. 

Now let’s talk about feedback…

6) They value feedback, both good and bad

Are you open to feedback, or do you get defensive when faced with the slightest criticism? If it’s the former, then you’re in good company; if the latter, not so much. 

High-performers know that feedback makes things easier since they know exactly what to improve on. Then they can act accordingly. 

Without feedback, they’d pretty much have to guess how they’re doing. 

It’s no coincidence that high-performers tend to value constructive criticism and feedback. They know it’s an opportunity to grow!

So don’t take things personally, instead realize the value of constructive feedback and be proactive about it! Feel gratitude towards the feedback-giver. Take the necessary steps to improve and become closer to your goals  

It can be challenging to deal with feedback at times. It can even be a blow to the ego if you aren’t ready for it. This is something I can attest to… 

When I opened my restaurant a decade ago, I would regularly get all kinds of feedback. As a new business owner, I would get upset by negative reviews while only paying serious attention to the good ones. 

Instead of looking at it as an opportunity to improve, I was in denial, instead questioning the character of the person. “They’re just a hater” was my sentiment toward bad feedback. 

As I grew older and wisened up, I began to realize how close-minded I was. Instead of getting angry at customers who had critical feedback, I learned to encourage it.

I’d reach out to the customers, thanking them for their feedback and offering them a free meal to correct the experience they had. I turned my weaknesses into strengths and gained a customer back in the process! 

I realized that embracing my shortcomings was a path to growth. And since we’re talking about growth…

7) They are growth-oriented 

Do you like to play it safe or step out of your comfort zone? For the high-performer, the grind never really stops! 

High-performers are constantly on the lookout for new assignments or projects that will help them grow. 

They don’t play it safe by staying unchallenged at a job. They’re ambitious and want to get the best out of themselves, whether that means gaining new skills, earning certificates, attending webinars, or even seeking new responsibilities. 

High-performers know that self-growth never ends. 

How to become a high-performer 

I’ve listed my top personality traits of a high performer, now it’s up to you to take action.

Don’t expect massive changes right away, and (as we established above) be realistic about setting goals. If you want to become a high-performer and future leader, then it’s certainly possible with dedication and practice. 

Take baby steps and celebrate little victories. Maybe you can start by getting to know your colleagues better or attending a webinar or two and notes. Or try hitting the gym and developing a routine. 

Slowly but surely, with a bit of diligence, these good habits will become a way of life for you. Keep working at it, don’t get discouraged, and soon enough, you’ll be as high-performing as they come! 

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