A Secret to Being an Elite Performer

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

Share this post

Cause Effect 2

Are you an elite performer at what you do?

If you want to become an elite performer at what you do?  You need to learn something that separates the elite performers from the non-elite performers.

Consider the space of whatever it is that you do (e.g., leader, parent, student, HR professional, sales rep, etc.), what do those who are elite performers do that those who are not elite do?

While there are many factors, I want to share with you one simple, yet profound difference:

The elite performers focus on leading indicators.

The non-elite performers focus on lagging indicators.

Leading vs. Lagging Indicators

Just so we are clear, a leading indicator is something that causes a lagging indicator. Usually, a lagging indicator is some sort of an outcome (e.g., performance, sales, profitability, stock price, grades).

A leading indicator is a driver of an outcome.

For example, in the education realm, a lagging indicator of primary focus is grades.

What are some leading indicators of grades? Learning is probably the most important leading indicator, but others could include study time, study strategies, class attendance, etc.

Playing off this example, where do you think most students focus: on the leading indicators (e.g., learning, study) or the lagging indicators (e.g., grades)?

What do the most elite performers focus on?

Elite vs. Non-Elite Leaders & Managers

Do the most effective and elite leaders and managers focus on the outcomes: what they are measured and evaluated on (e.g., sales, revenues, customer service ratings)?


What do the most effective and elite leaders and managers focus on? Employee engagement (something that often isn’t even measured or evaluated).

My guess is that you would be hard-pressed to identify truly elite leaders or managers that didn’t value and prioritize employee engagement.

Yet, the list of non-elite leaders or managers that valued outcomes over engagement will be endless.

What Do You Focus On?

Identify the different hats you wear. Across these roles, are you more focused on the leading or lagging indicators?

The more you can focus on the leading indicators, the better.

If you are a student, focus on learning, not grades.

If you are a manager, focus on engagement, not outcomes (e.g., sales, revenues, profits).

If you are a sales rep, focus on adding value to your customers, not on making the sell.

If you are a parent, focus on your children’s learning and development (not in a micromanaging way, but in a supportive, experiential way) and less on your comfort and ease.

But, this is difficult because we when get directives from up above (prospective employers, organizational leaders, sales manager, and future colleges), those directives are focused on lagging indicators and not leading indicators.

Moral of the Story

To be an elite performer, we have to be able to be mentally mature enough that when someone is encouraging greater lagging indicators that we not immediately turn and focus on those lagging indicators, but instead identify the most important leading indicators and focus there.

We Need to Create a Movement

What I am suggesting doesn’t come naturally to most of us. It is a skill that we need to refine and teach others.

And, it is critical!

If we want our world to move into a better place, we need more people focused on the leading indicators and less focused on the lagging indicators.

Consider instances where organizations or people have significantly misstepped to the detriment of others (e.g., Enron). Where were they heavily focused? Leading or lagging indicators.

Honestly, focusing on the lagging indicators brings out the worst in us.

Why do I Focus on Mindsets?

This is precisely why I focus on mindsets. Mindsets are our ultimate internal leading indicator. They are foundational to how we think, learn, and behave. They are foundational to how we use all of the different aspects about ourselves (e.g., personality, strengths, talents, intelligence).

Yet, very few people or organizations focus on mindsets. We tend to overlook the most foundational thing about ourselves.

We all want greater emotional intelligence, motivation, effort, persistence, effectiveness, etc., but rarely do we focus on what is at the root of all of these things: mindsets.

In fact, just a couple of days ago, I spoke with the owner of a speaker’s bureau, and he said that across almost 40 years of work, he has never had an organization approach him asking for a speaker that could speak about mindsets.

I was floored

My Invitation

After all of this, I want to invite you to:

  • Focus more on the leading indicators across the roles in your life so you can operate on an elite level
  • Help others to better learn the importance of focusing on leading indicators in becoming an elite performer
  • Share the idea that mindsets are the very most leading indicator about ourselves and encourage those you live and work with to focus more on mindsets

A great place to start with regards to this last bullet point is to invite people to take my FREE Personal Mindset Assessment. To do that, share the following link: https://ryangottfredson.com/personal-mindset-assessment

Subscribe for the latest posts