What high-performing organisations have in common

With all disruptions caused by Covid-19, changes in work patterns and changes in employee turnover, businesses have to re-evaluate the way they work, how they treat their employees, their higher purpose and their role in this society.

With the Great Resignation looming, the war for talent and grappling with finding the best ways to organise the hybrid world of working, it is important to be aware of what makes a high-performing organisation that can easily attract and keep talent and do good and do well at the same time.

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In my research over the years and more recently, I studied many high-performing organisations and interviewed many leaders.

Some repeating common patterns have emerged from this research that help create high-performing organisation.

These patterns include creating a caring, compassionate work culture to foster engagement, wellbeing and performance. Nobody wants to work in a toxic culture for an autocratic leader. Clarity of communication will improve cohesion and unity within an organisation that will be reflected in better performance.

Fostering relationships based on trust to provide psychological safety is essential. Without trust within an organisation, especially trust in leaders, friction and fear will be prevalent. HR also needs to ensure that perceived higher productivity from hybrid working is not masking exhaustion as stress and burnout will not lead to high performance.

High-performing organisations also have to inspire employees to have meaningful work that allows them to leave a legacy and feel they are making this world a better place through their work. Finding purpose and living it authentically is powerful motivator for an extraordinary performance, so too is fostering innovation by inspiring employees to interact, meet, collaborate and brainstorm on important projects or ideas.

Cultivating the right mindset of leaders and employees will influence organisational culture and lead to better performance. That mindset will be based on trust, transparency, meritocracy, compassion, collaboration and community ethos as well having fun working.

This is frequently displayed alongside employees aligning their individual values with organisational values. Those values need to be clearly articulated and lived every day. 

These values should then employer employees to self-organise in communities of passion and pursue some projects that are meaningful for them but also useful for an organisation is another way to foster performance.

Last but not least, high-performing organisations have leaders and employees that operate with integrity and authenticity. They walk the talk and they collectively enhance the reputation of an organisation as integrity is seen as the main currency of any business.

When employees feel they work for an ethical organisation – and when leaders act as role model of integrity – they will be more loyal and more productive as well.

Organisations that embody the above patterns will become high performing, they will not only do good for all stakeholders and wider society, but they will also do well, and the benefits will ripple out beyond organisational boundaries.


Vlatka Ariaana Hlupic is professor of Leadership and Management at Hult International Business School (Ashridge) and founder and CEO of Management Shift Solutions