People, Partners and Peak Performance

Giovanni Di Filippo

Partners that see the value in making people their focus, are driving infinite scalability and growing their business by double-digit figures

For fifteen years, I was a competitive swimmer. Working as a team and achieving great results was incredibly satisfying and quickly became part of my value system.

When I moved into the business world, I wondered how I could push the boundaries and reach the peak performance that I had seen people were capable of. For me, I can summarize my thinking here with what I call, the ‘5Ps’. What are the 5Ps? Quite simply, they are People, Partners, Portfolio, Programs and Process.

5 P's

What are the 5Ps? Quite simply, they are People, Partners, Portfolio, Programs and Process.

But the 5Ps are not equal in my mind. For me, nothing will come to fruition if that first P – the human capital – is not addressed at a very early stage.

As a leader, I feel it’s important to build a business by having the right people, with the right skills and attitude, working as one team with one goal and one voice. For Riverbed and our partners, that’s the only way that true peak performance can be achieved.

Peak performance in business

People want to identify with a corporate culture – with a company, a team, an organization and shared goals. When we try to achieve peak performance, we need to unleash a person’s talent and bring it together with complementary talents in the business that can really accelerate success.

How to foster peak performance in people

  1. Set clear expectations
    • It’s critical to empower people to do their best, and equally critical not to stand in the way of their achievements.
  2. Support your team
    • Be a coach or mentor for your people. Offer up the time they need to develop, at their own pace. I use my Fridays to have 1-2-1 calls with my team members, and it’s my priority, not something that can be easily moved or re-scheduled.
  3. Create a win-win mentality in your team
    • Failure will happen. I’m a strong believer that you always win even when you fail because you learn something. Don’t be knocked down. Stay confident and believe in yourself. Fail fast and move on.
  4. Numbers are an outcome
    • Invest in ‘human capital’, in hard and soft skills, and this will drive the right outcomes and be reflected in the numbers. Focus on people breeds the type of success that will get noticed by others, including senior managers.

And what’s important – and really exciting – is that partners are becoming an extension of Riverbed. Partners also see the value in making people their focus: they are driving infinite scalability and growing by double-digit figures. They have deliberately and consciously aligned themselves to our vision, strategy, priorities and even compensation. One very successful partner of ours aligned its go-to-market priorities with ours and has changed its compensation model so that there are now three different levels at which sales teams can earn. Money drives behavior, particularly when you have sales DNA in your blood!

Developing people is not easy. To grow people is time-consuming, but a great reward when they succeed and win. Communication is vital. It’s important to understand what you want to achieve and commit to it. It’s all about the heart and the head. We should all want our organizations to connect emotionally to our people and vice versa – and give them the bandwidth, empowerment and trust that they can do it.

Developing people is like climbing the Himalayas. You can’t just run from Base Camp to the peak. It’s a slow, meandering, but wonderful process that can bear the biggest dividends.

The challenge for leaders

All this requires lots of self-discipline. You have to push yourself but not everybody is ready. And if your team is not there yet, don’t push them: it’s a journey. I had for many years a very senior Fortune 500 board member that was my personal coach. He helped me understand how to push boundaries and move out of my comfort zone.

And many individuals or companies just aren’t ready. In some of the most top-notch companies in Silicon Valley, there is lots of IQ – lots of intellect and intelligence but not so much EQ, the so-called ‘emotional intelligence’. I think you need a good balance of IQ and EQ in a market that is transitioning so quickly that organizations will get left behind if they don’t move smartly. And as an individual, if you want to push out to achieve great things but your organization is not prepared to do so, what can you do? My advice is to do it anyway and show the value and success of your work. Seeing is believing. The organization will follow – don’t worry.

So, what can you do next to achieve your own peak performance? I believe that if you work closely with your teams and focus on that very first P above all others, then you will build your own success and that of your organization. Together we are stronger – and together we can win and drive peak performance.

Let’s do it!