After reading The Successful Organization: Keeping the
Talent That Drives Your Results, select one of the seven success behaviors
(shown below) that you identify as your strongest personal strength. Share with
the class a personal example that demonstrates you putting this strength into
action.The seven success behaviors include:1.Building relationships2.Embracing change3.Inviting opportunity4.Being passionate5.Being conscious6.Getting focused7.Taking responsibilityIn responding to your peers’ posts, discuss what change(s)
you would need to make to become better in the behavior in which your peers
excel. How can you help your peers excel in the success behavior you identified
as your strength? What tips can you offer?

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The successful organisation: keeping the
talent that drives your results
Judith Leary-Joyce
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand the elements of a success culture that serves
both people and the business.
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Judith Leary-Joyce is CEO
of Great Companies
Consulting Ltd, St Albans,
Design/methodology/approach – The paper explores the style of cultural, management and personal
development that supports successful people. The research is based on in-depth interviews with serial
achievers plus long-term experience of working in successful and failing cultures.
Findings – The research finds the five fundamentals for success, plus the seven behaviours that drive
people to achieve their desired outputs. Embedding these behaviours into a business culture supports
exceptional achievement. Also, developing an understanding of what drives success will ensure that
companies provide appropriate individual support to their high achievers.
Research limitations/implications – Future research could look at the specific impact of building an
inspirational manager community in a business workplace on levels of company and personal success.
Practical implications – For companies to build a consistently successful business, they need to make
the best of their high achievers. This requires a strong and constructive management community, made
up of people who enjoy the challenge of developing talent and have adequate levels of emotional
intelligence. It also demands leaders who role-model the importance of the success behaviours and
reward creative failure as well as obvious success.
Originality/value – The new findings relate to the five fundamentals and seven success behaviours as
outlined in The Psychology of Success. This information provides a new approach to success and is
highly relevant to twenty-first century business.
Keywords Management skills, Potential appraisal, Performance focus management, Job satisfaction
Paper type Research paper
eople love to work in companies where they feel valued. It makes each day special,
because they are invited to let their talent shine through. It feels wonderful!
Think for a moment -– is this how your people feel? Is their talent thriving, growing and being
fully utilised?
It’s a question that successful companies ask on a regular basis. We are talking far more
than a talent development programme – it is a question of culture, management capability
and leadership resolve. If talent doesn’t sit at the heart of business strategy, there will be no
one there to deliver the desired outcomes. So talent is a leadership issue of great
The Psychology of Success outlines the five fundamentals that underpin success itself, plus
the seven success behaviours that drive a dynamic and productive culture. Using this new
thinking on success will ensure that people throughout the company are striving to do their
best work with positive support and challenge from their managers. It is the recipe for a very
bright future.
DOI 10.1108/00197851011026045
VOL. 42 NO. 2 2010, pp. 71-75, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 0019-7858
‘‘ As a leader and a manager, people will do what you do first
and maybe later will do what you say. ’’
Developing the success culture
We all know that full employee engagement begins with culture. We also know that culture is
driven by leaders. We know it, but forget and ignore it so easily. It is hard to take in just how
much example drives the behaviour of others – especially when it’s our own behaviour that is
doing the driving!
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Mick Kent, CEO of Bromford Housing Groups is clear – ‘‘How I walk in each morning
defines whether it is summer or winter in the office’’. A big responsibility, but entirely
true. Everyone watches the leaders – even more so in these tough times. They look for
signs that the world is OK for another day, for approval and reinforcement of norms. As
a leader and a manager, people will do what you do first and maybe later will do what
you say. They make the assumption that you know ‘‘the right way’’, so follow your
So behaviour breeds behaviour. So if you want to be a successful company that means
holding leaders to role modelling the seven success behaviours. Review and discuss with
senior people, ask them to clarify what each behaviour will look like in the workplace and
encourage them to talk about their achievements and learning at their team meetings. Then
you will begin a positive wave of change.
The seven success behaviours include:
1. Building relationships – People are the key to success, so understand the drivers of great
interactions and use them to build mutually beneficial connections.
2. Embracing change – Don’t just wait for change to occur, go out and find it! Use our
fast-changing society to your advantage.
3. Inviting opportunity – Understand how to put yourself in the way of opportunity and be
ready to see what is in front of you.
4. Being passionate – Use your excitement and enthusiasm to help you move forward to
your next achievement and life stage.
6. Getting focused – Choose where to place your energy, so you reach your goals and
prepare for the next life chapter.
The seventh behaviour is that of taking responsibility and it underpins the success culture,
driving all the other behaviours. Until people accept that the only person they can change is
themselves, they will keep looking for a magic bullet to make life simple. Once they ‘‘get it’’,
then they can move mountains.
5. Being conscious – Understand the impact you make in the workplace. Know how people
perceive you and you will build better and more effective relationships.
In the workplace, taking responsibility delivers real commitment to the business. People
want the company to do well, they want to feel they have added value and been valued in
return. It also means they understand the importance of a positive culture, so will be your
best advocates, challenging those who ‘‘pass the buck’’ rather than take action to create
Building culture around the success behaviours benefits everyone – the company gets
great results, because employees feel nurtured and valued, while your commitment to their
success means they will want to stay.
You can’t do it without great management
In total, 70 per cent of people leave their manager and not the job. It’s a chilling thought when
you look back on the good people who have left your business. Might they have stayed if
their management relationship had been positive? Successful companies who experience
high employee retention place a strong emphasis on quality people management.
The first consideration is how managers are chosen. All too often these days,
management is given as a reward. A successful expert who has been doing a really good
job is promoted to a people management role by way of saying thank you. Neither
company nor expert ask whether they have the right skills for the job, or even whether
they want to do it. It is generally the only way to progress in a company, so it’s a
no-brainer that they will say yes.
But such random decisions have an enormous impact on the success of a company.
Reluctant managers cost money. They prefer the job they have always done, so carry on as if
little has changed. Very soon they are overloaded – ‘‘It will save time and be easier if I do it
myself’ – and the high performers in their team lose heart as they receive fewer delegated
tasks. If you want to drive talent away, foster reluctant managers!
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If you want to keep talent, develop inspirational managers. These are managers who
understand that people are their job. They enjoy seeing others thrive and develop. They are
proud to look around the company and see senior experts and leaders they have helped
along the way. And they deliver exceptional results through teams of people who respect
and admire them.
Inspirational managers hold four beliefs:
1. They build strong relationships with their people – they know what matters to them, what
they aspire to and what drives them mad. They know something of home circumstances –
and they also know which people are private and don’t want to talk about home at work.
2. They are consistent – what they say they will do is exactly what happens. When they
begin something they follow through and they are rigorous in adhering to company
3. They tell the truth – you will never find an inspirational manager backing off a tough
conversation. They believe people need to know when something has gone well and
when it has gone wrong. Only then do they have the chance of repeating or changing their
4. They work to strengths – through their relationships they understand what people do well
so they can utilise that ability for the team. It makes a major difference to align work to
strengths and to team people up who can balance each other.
No wonder their teams are more effective – who wouldn’t want to work with someone like
that? Serial achievers seek out inspirational managers, because they know they will be
assured of robust, honest support and their career will thrive.
Who are the serial achievers?
Serial achievers are people who go from strength to strength in their lives. They are your
future leaders, innovators and inspirational managers. They enjoy change, seek out new
learning and continue to challenge themselves to ever greater achievement.
‘‘ In total, 70 per cent of people leave their manager and not the
job. ’’
You want to hold on to these people. They will help your business thrive and change in the
most exciting way. Which also make them incredibly attractive to your competitors. So
keeping them fully engaged needs to be high on your agenda.
It’s important for the manager of a serial achiever to recognise that they won’t be happy
standing still. Once a job/role/project is complete, they will become restless and want to
move on. They won’t always be clear where to go – they may be attracted to the idea of
something completely new or more of the same. Whatever they choose, that time of review
and deliberation will be one of great learning. The temptation is to jump out of the uncertainty
and back into overdrive, but sticking with the ‘‘incubation’’ phase will provide interesting self
reflection and discovery – an essential factor in the development of leadership skills.
As long as managers have a positive relationship with their direct reports they will be able to
support them through this exploration. With the right coaching, serial achievers will
understand what the restlessness and incubation is teaching them and bring that knowledge
back into the company. Without support, they will look for a way to feel better about
themselves and that may well lead to a job with your competitor!
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So what do managers need to understand about managing success?
First – that we all have at least one core talent that underpins skill. We are born with it and
then build the skills we need in order to use it productively. The same core talent can be used
in a wide range of occupations. Help serial achievers understand their core talent and you
can utilise it in different parts of the business, thereby providing them with the variety and
challenge they need. There is also considerably less risk of putting them into a job they won’t
enjoy, so less risk of the frustration that leads to the door of recruitment agencies.
Anthony worked as a Finance Director in a number of different companies. He loved working
with numbers, but despite this, never managed to stay with a company for more that two
years – it was just too boring. So he would move to a new job in the hope that it would hold his
interest. Reviewing his core talent, he realised it was much more than just a love of numbers
– the real buzz was in the opportunities they presented. All the jobs he had chosen required
him to deliver clean and understandable numbers, but never included him in what the
numbers were saying about the business.
As a result of understanding his core talent, Anthony looked for a more strategic job that
stretched his thinking and used his ability to spot the opportunities being presented. Settled
in a role that uses his core talent, he feels no desire to move onto to pastures new, saving
himself and his company considerable heartache.
In part this is the domain of leadership and management development – to provide the
opportunity for self-exploration. It also needs managers to support learning, through
spotting recurring patterns that help and hinder, then taking the time to talk it through. Using
a coaching style opens doors in the mind as constructive questions extend thinking.
Tim has a mindset that he will never be good enough. His own worst critic, he regularly beats
himself up for not doing the very best job possible. The upside of his mindset is the constant
striving it delivers – he doesn’t give up until he is sure the work is right. The downside is the
stress he causes himself – he is always in discomfort, always worrying.
Second – we all have mindsets and mottos, some that help us achieve and some that drag
us back from our full potential. Mostly they are out of consciousness – we just assume this is
the way life goes. Yet given the chance to explore them further, we have the option to change
how we respond for the better.
What a wonderful challenge to a manager! A real striver and serial achiever in the making,
Tim has the potential to be a future leader as long as his manager understands how the
mindset works and helps him channel his striving in the right direction. Also to help him stop
when the work is good enough!
In fact, Tim ended up with an equally driven manager who focused totally on the job and
showed no interest in his people. They worked well together while Tim could stand the strain
‘‘ Leaders are only of value if they have good people following
them. ’’
of trying to please this stickler as well as his own internal critic, but the time came when he
had to move on for his own sanity. By not paying attention to that all-important role of people
management, a high achiever was lost to the company.
Managing achievement
It’s not only serial achievers who need to be managed well. Leaders are only of value if they
have good people following them, so achievers at all levels and of all styles need the
attention that will help them deliver exceptional results.
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You will know your different achievers through their attitude to risk. Serial achievers will
calculate the odds and then take a risk – in fact, they enjoy it. Stable achievers will avoid risk
at all costs. And in between, you have consistent achievers who take calculated risk within
their area of expertise, where they feel confident.
Stable achievers
These are the people who keep your business going day to day. They are extremely good at
their job, often with core talent that includes an ability to maintain order and build systems.
They don’t want you to challenge their life too much – help them keep a comfortable
boundary and they will thrive, delivering great results. Recognising this, you can temper how
you convey forthcoming change, so your stable achievers are in a position to manage
effectively without it disrupting their ability to perform.
Consistent achievers
These are your experts. They enjoy their area of work, want to do a great job and be excited
by the challenges around them, but they are unlikely to move outside their quite substantial
comfort zone. It is very important to understand their core talent. If it links well to a specific
skill, then that is likely to form the boundary. So a scientist will want to remain a scientist and a
consistent manager will be best left doing a great job in management.
Keeping all achievers fit and well through an active success culture and inspirational
management is the key to positive employee retention. When people feel involved and
valued they will love their work and feel little inclination to move on. You have to fight with
competitors, not just for business, but for the most attractive working environment for
Just remember, this isn’t about making a nice easy place to work. It’s about providing rigour
and the chance to do a great job with the necessary support, while developing and using
core talent in a satisfying and exciting way. So all together good for business and good for
About the author
Judith Leary-Joyce is a psychologist, management consultant, executive coach, inspirational
speaker and author of The Psychology of Success – Secrets of Serial Achievement. Judith
Leary-Joyce can be contacted at:
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