Transforming Potential into Performance by Kelly Riggs

In August, EST had one of the most inspirational events that I have attended.  Kelly Riggs presented “Coaching for Leaders: How to Transform Potential into Performance.”  We had tremendously positive responses from the crowd and a few of those are captured here:

There were some really great gems in there that I can apply immediately.  

Ethan Liston, OSU BSME graduate


I wish I had heard that thirty years ago.

Richard Wollmershauser, Independent Civil Engineering Professional 


That was really tangible information, and he speaks with such passion.

Hamid Mozafari, Masters Student at UTulsa

 After the event, I asked Kelly if he would write a guest blog for EST so that I could share his message to more people.  He graciously agreed and his blog follows. 

Transforming Potential into Performance

by Kelly Riggs

The ability to identify and recruit talent is critical to organizational success, which is why leaders are so incredibly critical to a company. Make no mistake: leaders who fail to attract and retain “A” players will never create teams that perform at the highest levels.

But, while attracting top talent is a necessary first step to high performance, managers must also learn the leadership principles that necessarily transform employee potential into consistent performance. Only rarely does talent arrive fully developed. Instead, typically, it is necessary to train, cultivate, and engage the latent potential that exists in the “A” player.

So, creating a high-performance team is every leader’s objective, but there is much more to this equation than simply creating objectives and conducting annual reviews. To create top performance, I would suggest that effective leaders must consistently excel in these four key areas:

1.     (T)RUST

Easily the most important aspect of leadership is the concept of trust. People simply won’t willingly follow someone they fail to trust. While there are literally dozens of aspects of trust, there are several critical areas that leaders must address effectively to create an environment of trust. You must be consistent. You must demonstrate loyalty to your team. You must be an example of the things you expect from your team. You absolutely must do the things you say you will do. Trust will never follow the leader that fails in these areas.


Employee “engagement” is something that can actually be measured. It refers to the degree to which an employee feels connected and “bought in” to the company, and to you as the leader. Rigorous research has tied engagement directly to employee productivity, profitability, safety, turnover, and other key business metrics. It is also crystal clear that the largest component of “engagement” is created by an employee’s immediate manager or supervisor. Key aspects of engagement include clarity in communication, performance feedback, the opportunity to make decisions, the opportunity to learn and advance, and several other factors.


Leaders must create a culture of accountability or top talent will move on to other opportunities. “A” players love to be challenged and they expect to be trained and coached, both critical aspects of accountability. But they also expect each team member to pull his or her own weight, so if you don’t address performance issues – and in a timely manner – you not only fail to transform potential into performance, but you allow sub-par performance to exist on your team. High performance never exists in an environment that allows mediocrity to exist, so it your responsible to maintain standards.

4.      (M)OTIVATION

Motivation is simply about creating an environment where employees do their best work, have the opportunity to grow and advance, and be recognized for their contributions to the team. Employees consistently complain that the “only time I hear from my boss is when I make a mistake.” This means that the leader who fails to recognize and reward excellence misses the opportunity to tap into the most basic human need – the need to feel valued. When employees knows that you genuinely appreciate their work, and they believe that you value their contributions to the team, you have created a workplace that motives them to do their best work.

To transform potential into real performance, and create a high-performance TEAM, effective leaders understand the critical value of those four areas: Trust, Engagement, Accountability, and Motivation.


Author Bio:Kelly is uniquely qualified to help businesses improve performance. He is a former two-time national Salesperson of the Year, a successful entrepreneur, and a highly acclaimed teacher and business coach.He is the author of two books: "1-on-1 Management: What Every Great Manager Knows That You Don't" and "Quit Whining and Start SELLING: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Hall of Fame Career in Sales.”Now, as founder of Business LockerRoom, Inc., Kelly has spent the last nine years as a sales strategist and leadership coach. A highly acclaimed platform speaker, Kelly Riggs is recognized as a dynamic thought leader in the fields of leadership, sales development, and strategic planning, working with organizations that range in size from $3 million to over $5 billion in annual sales revenue.

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