SoapBox Book Club: The Top Performer’s Field Guide
At SoapBox, we love reading amazing books on cool companies and amazing leaders. So, we decided to all read the same book at the same time, and then talk about it. Welcome to the SoapBox book club.
Today, the SoapBox book club is talking about The Top Performers Field Guide (TPFG as we’ve lovely adopted it at SoapBox) by Jeff Standridge.
About the book
The Top Performers Field Guide (TPFG) is less than 200 pages, and each chapter is no more than two pages. Each chapter starts with a quote, segues into an analogy and closes with a teachable moment tied to business and leadership. At the end of each chapter are three “Accelerators” – quite literally three actions you try tomorrow.
On a broad level, the book focuses on how individuals can be successful (or, how top performers can maintain their success). It’s not entirely focused on business but more so on the lifestyle around being a top performer and how to get there.
If you roll your eyes at business analogies, this book might not be for you – it’s full of them. But if you’re keen to gain some valuable leadership insights in small, bite-sized nuggets, you’re gonna finish this guy in a weekend.
Who is Jeff Standridge anyway?
He’s an investor, entrepreneur and author from Arkansas. He’s the former executive leader at Acxiom Corporation, and is currently Chief Catalyst with Conductor, co-founder of Cadron Capital Partners and an adjunct professor at the University of Central Arkansas teaching Innovation Leadership & Entrepreneurial Finance.
He’s got a lot on his plate, but in his spare time he’s written two business books: The Top Performer’s field guide and The Innovator’s Field Guide.
The chapter we couldn’t stop talking about: “Professional Ghosting”
We actually laughed out loud reading this chapter.
You might think “ghosting” is a dating term, but we do it in business all the time and it’s incredibly damaging to our relationships. All of the unanswered emails, the “I’ll get back to you’s” that never eventuate, they’re a form of professional ghosting. And whether intentional or not, they create a negatively impact your image as a leader.
Standridge writes about turning awkward or uncomfortable situations into opportunities to build relationships, and we can’t agree more (despite the fact that ghosting is so easy to slip into!). When you professionally ghost, you essentially kill any chance at a relationship in the future. And really, no one wants to be ghosted (personally or professionally!).
Our top 3 quotes
“Success is a choice followed by consistent action over time. Make that choice and go for it.”
“Is your integrity worth a year’s wages? If not, you could be due for some soul-searching.”
“Top performers create an environment where truth telling is safe, encouraged, and rewarded.”
SoapBox: Why did you write The Top Performer’s Field Guide?
Jeff Standridge: I’ve spent virtually my entire 30-year career studying Top Performance. I’ve studied it academically as a university professor, and I’ve studied it practically as a global business executive and as an entrepreneur in numerous countries, on five continents. There are specific things that Top Performers do differently than Average Performers and I wanted to share some of those observations with readers.
What inspired your very distinct style of the book with the short chapters, analogies and “accelerators?”
Very few books are actually read from cover to cover. We are a “short burst” society. So, my thoughts were, if I could get my point across in short bursts, with very specific questions for reflection and/or key actions immediately following, I could have a greater impact across my readership. So far, that has proved to be the case. I’m getting feedback from corporate organizations, non-profits, school systems, entrepreneurs and others that the format really works!
What’s your favourite chapter and why?
Chapter 30, “Gut Check.” I like this chapter because I don’t think we give enough credence to our ability to develop business intuition and to make rapid decisions based on limited information. This chapter talks about that. I am also very partial to the “Excerpt” from my next book that is located on page 166. I like this “chapter” because it really lays the foundation to all of my research into Top Performance. Consider it a “postscript” to the Top Performer’s Field Guide, if you will.I don’t think we give enough credence to our ability to develop business intuition and to make rapid decisions based on limited information. - Jeff Standridge of @AR_Conductor in The Top Performer’s Field Guide Click To Tweet
Analogies were a big part of your book. Do you find that analogies play a big role in communicating as a leader too?
I chose this format to get my points across because I truly do want this information to have a positive impact on the reader. One cannot have a positive impact on another person unless s/he gets and keeps their attention. Meaningful stories are the way we, as humans, connect with others emotionally. When we can take an abstract or a complex topic, and we can explain it through analogy, metaphor or anecdote, we connect on a deeper level with the person with whom we are communicating. Storytelling is a skill that all of us could better learn to develop, and in doing so, would see our influence and communication effectiveness soar!
What’s the one actionable tip that you want readers to walk away with?
That Top Performance requires personal leadership and personal leadership requires a delicate balance between the ability to deliver results and the ability to develop and maintain strong relationships (page 166). The best tip I can give is to encourage everyone to explore and deeply understand their tendencies in this regard (are they results or relationships oriented), and then to learn how to walk that very critical tightrope!
Did you read The Top Performers Field Guide? Tell us what you thought of it on Twitter!
Next up for the SoapBox book club: Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord.
Ready to put these management tips to use?