Are You World Class?

Recent article published by in Resource and Exclusive Thinking

Are You World Class?

Simon Hartley

Be World Class

Are you world class? How would you know? How can you assess ‘world class-ness’? What are the signs?

I’ve worked with world class individuals and organisations for the last 15 years or so. During that time I have been fortunate to have worked with Olympians, gold medallists, world record holders and championship winning teams. In sport it is pretty easy to assess ‘world class-ness’. Normally it is accompanied by medals and trophies. In business it is a little tougher. Although there are awards, accolades and league tables, often these don’t tell the whole story. I’ve found genuinely world class operators who are almost unknown outside of their field. They are squirrelled away out of the public glare. They stand out as being world class, not because they have awards, but simply because they absolutely excel in their field. Simply put, they are the best at what they do.

Recently, I have been looking into those subtle but profound differences between world class people and the rest. As part of my research, I have interviewed a group of people who are truly world class in their respective fields. These people come from a diverse range of disciplines, from Michelin starred chefs to elite mountaineers, the world’s finest adventure racers, CEOs of world leading organisations and Olympic finalists. I’ve seen some characteristics that bind them all and noticed a few of the tell-tale signs that help identify them as ‘world class’.

Here is one question that can help us to assess how close we are to these world class people.

What would you say if someone offered to help your organisation become world class?

Would you say, ‘we’re already pretty good at what we do, thanks’? Would you say, ‘we’re already world class’, or ‘I think we’re okay as we are’? Would you say, ‘sounds great but we don’t have the budget for that’ or ‘that sounds like a great idea but we have a business to run’?

Interestingly, when I ask junior athletes to rate their performance on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being perfect), many score themselves at 9. A world class athlete, when asked the same question, often scores the performance between 4 and 6 out of 10. Does that mean the junior athlete is better? Of course not, but it shows a trait of world class people. They are never satisfied with their performance and are always looking to improve. Even those who are world leaders know that they need to improve at a faster rate than those around them, if they want to remain at the top. They know they need to take advantage of everything that will help them to stay ahead.

World class people never seem to say. ‘oh, that’ll do’; that’s not how world class people think. They don’t tend to accept 98 or 99%. They will do whatever they can to get those extra couple of per cent. They realise that, at the very top, there is a great deal of effort (and sometimes expense) required to gain tiny margins. Many people would feel that the time, effort or expense outweighed the gain. That is often the difference. Most people won’t do what it takes to that extra 1 or 2 per cent. World class people will.

So, what do you think? Are you world class?

If you are dedicated to being the best you can possibly be, and aspire to being world class in your field, you will want to be part of the exclusive group of businesses on The Podium Programme.