Performance growth in the workplace is crucially important for several reasons. The data consistently shows a positive correlation towards optimal productivity, identifying work on areas, enhancing strengths, setting clear expectations, talent retention, job satisfaction and continuous improvement.

Depending on your organisation they can offer a variety of options for employee development. These range from self-directed online learning, face-to-face programmes, mentorships and on-the-job learning.

From our experience in Steering Point, we know:

Performing at your best requires intentional work on your craft, body and mind – filling each with the right stimulus, quality and quantity. How are you currently getting better?

To learn more about our Steering Point High Impact Leadership Development framework, click here.

More Insights by Jonny Cooper

Thinking Under Pressure: Lessons we can Learn from Aviation

Chameleons, Leadership and Change

Resetting for 2024

Elite Team Cohesion

The Differences Between a Performer and a High Performer

Building Optimal Performance


Since the Wright brothers’ historic flight in 1903, the aviation industry has evolved significantly. Today, it connects the world, shaping global transportation, commerce, and exploration.

We know aviation is characterised by strict safety protocols, rapid technological advancements, global connectivity, and the diverse weather conditions it operates in. Ensuring safe and efficient air travel in an ecosystem that demands precision, adaptability, communication, trust and collaboration across multiple agencies. It is ever-evolving.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is responsible for managing the large airspace of Ireland, which covers a hugely significant area of 451,000 km2. This airspace is a crucial gateway between Europe and North America. The Air Traffic Controllers stationed at Shannon ensure the safe passage of over 90% of all aircraft travelling between the two continents. During the summer months, this amounts to more than 1,200 aircraft every 24 hours. Managing such a dynamic and volatile environment is no easy task.

Key lessons from the cockpit

Air traffic controllers communicate with either a pilot or a co-pilot (first officer) who are responsible for flying an aircraft in the sky. Being a pilot requires quick thinking under pressure, and there are three crucial lessons we can learn from their approach:

Learning from the precision and process of the aviation industry is insightful, as all roles require effective decision-making and responses.

Do you use easy-to-remember guides, participate in regular training, and show accountability for improvements?

More Insights by Jonny Cooper

Chameleons, Leadership and Change

Resetting for 2024

Elite Team Cohesion

The Differences Between a Performer and a High Performer

Building Optimal Performance

Adapting accordingly

Evolutionary change has led chameleons to adjust their mindset and develop unique abilities over millions of years. Some of these unique skills include a talent to change their skin colour instantly in response to predators, to control each eye independently and alter their body shape to communicate with other lizard species. They possess a consistent competence to sense changes in their environment and adjust accordingly.

Some examples of different types of Organisational change

In our professional world, we know many types of changes can occur. From a people perspective, employees are often asked to be responsive to shifts in their environment, such as being asked to work three days in the office instead of zero days during COVID-19. They may also be tasked with winning a significant business opportunity, such as designing and presenting a presentation to a client. Or they may need to adapt to unexpected structural and strategic changes, such as two functions coming together as part of a merger.

Regardless of the scale of organisational change, people are ultimately at the centre.

Common goals

Change can be a complicated process involving deep rooted behaviours, internal politics, impending risks and numerous benefits. To navigate change effectively, it is critical that teams have support and opportunities to feedback.

From a strategic perspective, leaders should evaluate their engagement process to ensure there is active, timely and effective communication. They should ensure that their teams feel involved and that they actively listen to what their people are saying. As the single source of truth, it is the leadership team’s responsibility to truly understand the core impact(s) any professional change will have on their people before it occurs. By doing this effectively, it sets a tone and builds the foundations for long-term success.

How do leaders ensure that they understand their teams?

Pace, pace, lead

The ‘pace, pace, lead’ framework is a technique used in psychology and performance coaching that originates from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Taught within Executive Coaching courses globally, it is an intentional process that helps build trust and gain momentum by establishing rapport with the person or group.

The first step, pace, involves mirroring behaviours, language or communication style to create a sense of familiarity and connection. The second step, also called pace, involves matching their behaviours while introducing new ideas or perspectives. The last step, lead, involves introducing new behaviours or suggestions, which are more likely to be accepted because of the previously established rapport.

The technique ‘pace, pace, lead’ refers to a deliberate process that moves forward at a measured pace. Although it’s not slow, the process can be perceived as gradual. This approach involves carefully building trust and momentum before ultimately leading towards change. This ensures that a clear understanding is established before change occurs.


During their evolution, chameleons have experienced many failures giving them the skills to learn, adapt and grow through experience. When it comes to small or large organisational change, experience tells us it is critical for leaders to understand their people. The level at which people feel engaged, through active listening, will either build or break trust.

Once a clear understanding is established, organisations, leaders and departments should work towards a common goal of aligning the culture with desired behaviours. Successful change happens when people are given the right environment to develop new skills and the autonomy to be accountable for their responsibilities.

This powerful combination of alignment, advancement, autonomy and accountability provides a genuine competitive advantage resulting in greater individual and collective performance and a significant return on investment.

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“Empowering” Workers is More Than a Catchy Phrase

The Workplace Motivation Theory That Works

Organisational Psychology and Motivation


Born in Kildare in 1932, Charles Handy is an Irish author who specialises in Organisational Behaviour and Management. In 1994 he wrote a book called “The Age of Paradox”. In chapter 3 entitled ‘The Road to Davy’s Bar’, he tells a short story about asking for directions to a bar in Wicklow Mountain. He connects this story to performance in any context and two s-shaped sigmoid curves. Generally, a sigmoid curve has 4 points: inception, growth, maturity, and decline.

It’s interesting to note that one of the most debated chapters in executive education classes around the world is the concept of “what got you here won’t get you there”. This simple but powerful idea, as argued by Handy, suggests that while building the first curve of success, it’s important to start thinking about the second curve. If you stick to the same old path, you might miss out on the road to the future. It’s a thought-provoking concept that challenges us to think beyond our current circumstances and envision a better future.

The 2nd s-curve begins somewhere between the growth and maturity phases of our life, business or industry. It is important to innovate with new success factors before experiencing a decline in growth.

The Christmas and holiday season offers a great chance to break free from the everyday routine of life. It’s an opportunity to spend more quality time with friends and family and take a break from weekly project huddles or work commitments, allowing us to recharge our mental and physical batteries.

Regardless of how you spend this time, it is an important period for refreshing our minds, assessing the opportunities available to us, and planning how we can achieve our full potential.

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Cohesion is pivotal to the success of any effective organisation. It is the means by which teams work in unison towards a shared objective, each member working closely with and bouncing off their colleagues to contribute to a larger goal.

Covid-19 impacted many aspects of work life, cohesion included. In some ways, by fast-tracking the shift to a hybrid working model, the pandemic enhanced our ability to engage with others easily, regardless of location, allowing us to leverage global insights that were previously unreachable. However, it also diminished our ability to build and develop the in-person connections that are so vital to forming an effective, synchronised team.

Type ‘team cohesion’ into Google and you’ll get over 17 million search results, with everything from courses, books, talks, techniques and opinions freely available.

But while heaps of information on the subject are easily accessible, specific context and sequencing are required if we are to turn that mass of information into actualised, meaningful team growth. Here, we outline the five essential elements that make for better team cohesion.

1. A unifying vision

For an organisation to thrive, the company and its employees must be aligned. Recognising that each employee brings their own unique set of values, motivations, fears, expectations, and growth potential is key. The best organisations know how to integrate these individual values within a wider organisational purpose.

2. Intentional leadership

Leaders wield immense influence in setting the right tone amongst a team, one that can be easily bought into and upheld whether they’re in the room or not. When that tone is right, mood and productivity go up. When it falters, productivity takes a hit. Leaders must embody their values and make them resonate amongst their staff to get everyone moving as a unit toward a single shared vision.

3. Management skills

Without fail, the best teams and organisations are led by figures who possess a distinct ability to empower others. Great managers recognise the untapped potential of those around them and know how to draw it out. They foster autonomy in their staff, hold themselves accountable, offer candid feedback and are open to receiving it as well.

4. Team dynamics

There are, of course, many challenges when it comes to maintaining team dynamics. Leaders need to be on the lookout not just for what their staff are telling them, but for non-verbal cues too – body language, facial reactions etc. It’s not easy, especially as work environments become increasingly digitalised. Still, there are some steps leaders can take to ensure their work environment is functioning at its best, such as promoting:

5. Individual performance

A team is made up of individuals. As such, every individual’s attitude and performance will in turn impact team cohesion. Further developing two aspects of individual performance can go a long way.


Team cohesion is a fundamental driver of sustained, long-term success. Cohesion is a product of gradual development; building strong relationships requires a shared understanding that can only evolve from an environment that fosters mutual trust among team members. Understanding a colleague – their motivations, their life experience – and offering tailored support requires an investment that extends far beyond routine check-ins or daily project collaborations.

As we delve deeper into the ‘Future of Work,’ teams are in the process of establishing new behavioural norms and practices. Investing in and cultivating team cohesion instils confidence in organisations and generates substantial long-term returns on investment.

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The Power of Team Clusters: A People-Centric Approach to Innovation

On the evening of Tuesday November 21st an exclusive gathering of business leaders came together in the elegant surroundings of 25 Fitzwilliam Place for a Leadership Masterclass with Steering Point Leadership and Talent Development Director, Jonny Cooper and Minister Paschal Donohue.

Steering Point Founder and Partner Shay Dalton opened the evening welcoming the Minister and thanking sponsors, TowerView for supporting the event.

During the conversation Minister Donohue related to Jonny Cooper how he manages the responsibilities associated with being Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in Ireland, President of the Eurogroup and representative for Dublin Central constituency. A consistent presence of mind, clarity of thought and an ability to navigate complexity with his team all play crucial parts in the balancing of his demanding daily routine.

Minister Donohue emphasised the importance of staying laser-focused on the task at hand, even when attention is diverted. He also shared his approach to balancing home life with political responsibilities and the value of maintaining interests outside of work.

Finally, the Minister stressed the significance of having a mentor or trusted advisor, someone to consult with when making big decisions or identifying potential blind spots in a constantly evolving world.

“A memorable and interactive night in the company of distinguished and successful leaders at our Steering Point Leadership Dinner series.” said Cooper “During his masterclass Minister Paschal Donohue was able to impart his depth of knowledge and experience in an intimate manner. From the positive feedback received so far it is evident that our clients and friends walked away with something very special.”

Attendees spoke highly of the evening with one guest, Colm Woods MD of CW8 Communications commenting “Even with the terrific room full of business leaders, the standout for everyone was undoubtedly the candid and wide-ranging conversation between Jonny and Minister Donohoe. Humility, affability, integrity, honesty, dedication – all the qualities that one should aspire to in leadership, evident for all to see on both sides of the chat. A conversation that will stay with me for some time.”


For media inquiries or to request high resolution photography from the evening contact Steering Point Group Head of Marketing Gail Finegan,


At its core, performance relies on a combination of awareness, discipline, effort, and openness. Every day, billions of individuals engage in performance, whether it’s in a professional context, in the realm of education, or in their personal lives with friends and family. However, not everyone exhibits the same level of engagement and effectiveness in their performance.

Individuals can be categorised into two groups: performers and high performers. Subtle but significant differences separate the two. Performers are characterised by their commitment, leadership ability, and mindfulness. High performers, meanwhile, possess a clearly defined purpose, a unique capacity for creation, and a deep sense of care.

The high performer will always delve a layer deeper. They want meaning and understanding, something profound. While not everyone may want to be a high performer, those who do can benefit from some common insights and opportunities.

Common insights

Imagine a triangle, with its broad base representing character and competence. These feed into one’s skill set, then build to a sharp apex at the top: execution. High performers approach each layer systematically and share some common insights:

Execution – combined with experience, the accumulation of a high performers character, competence and skill level determines their ability to execute in a moment. They see execution as an opportunity to obtain feedback.

Skills – Often holding a position of a leadership or influence high performers are consistently scanning. They are proactive and eager to refine their current skillset and acquire new and more relevant skills.

Competence – High performers back themselves while striving to produce higher quality. A common trend evident is that they are relentlessly curious in search of new insights to develop their true competence.

Character – At the base there is daily significant growth potential. High performers consistently nurture this space, more often in the shadows. They know that their true quality is always left behind the room they leave.

Key opportunities

In today’s dynamic performance landscape, three key development opportunities stand out:

  1. Why, What and Who
    Understanding why you do what you do, what you aim to achieve, and who can support you is crucial to maximising your potential. These questions serve as a compass for personal growth.
  2. Cultivating Deeper Relationships and Fostering Trust
    Research consistently highlights the centrality of trust in all social interactions. Trust enhances collaboration, encourages vulnerability, improves communication, and fuels idea generation. Deepening your relationships can have far-reaching personal and strategic benefits.
  3. Objective Goal Measurement
    Consider the difference between the 2D roadmaps of the past and the current 3D versions on your phone. Which of them offers greater clarity? Which helps you get where you’re going faster? Clear, detailed goals enhance efficiency. They provide a roadmap that not only guides you but also identifies potential risks, opportunities, timelines, and obstacles to be aware of.

High performance is not always easy to define or achieve, but you know it when you see it. Those who do achieve it will always stand out.

More on Peak Performance

Building Optimal Performance

How to Achieve Peak Performance

Ready to take your next step toward peak performance? Get in touch:

In order to thrive, workplaces need to build cohesive teams that are intrinsically motivated. In this insight piece we address ways of approaching, obtaining, optimising and sustaining performance.

Every working environment is made up of four core layers:





Within those layers exist both complementary and competing factors that can contribute to organisational growth. Some of these factors are in our control and can be strengthened directly, such as maintaining an active, healthy team and prioritising people development. Others are outside our scope, such as employee disengagement born of a change in personal priorities.

Linking each layer is a daily demand. Organisational design, positive leadership intent, a disciplined feedback loop and dedicated culture of growth must work in tandem. Improving and aligning each layer is pivotal.

  1. Every organisation needs to set out their strategic vision. Typically this outlines who the organisation is, what they stand for, their strengths, recent and notable successes, people development programmes and how to capitalise on future market opportunities.

Get right: Generate trust with a clear understanding of the journey ahead

Research shows that when it comes to maximising performance, trust is pivotal. An abundance of academic and anecdotal evidence points to trust’s long-term strategic value. Benefits include increased collaboration, vulnerability, communication and idea generation.

Communicating a coherent strategic vision requires a thoughtful engagement plan. Some important points include:

  1. An organisation’s strategy should flow downward and outward. For a strategy to successfully capitalise on opportunities, the leadership team needs to be aligned.

Get right: Leaders and leadership teams need to work on themselves first

Leadership teams are too often misaligned, leading to a lack of conviction in critical areas such as providing direction, communication (verbal and non-verbal) and role modelling positive behaviours. Obtaining a high standard of performance relies on resolute leadership alignment.

  1. A coherent strategic vision and aligned leadership group is a positive start. However, if mishandled, competing projects, team dynamics and internal politics can quickly hamper an organisation’s growth.

Get right: Ensure your teams provide consistent space for professionals to grow

Teams can better optimise their potential through an embedded performance professional (internal or external). Their fundamental role is to work with a team to provide objective feedback and help cultivate or better maintain high performance behaviours, all while keeping an eye on the wider professional context and the organisation’s long-term aims.

  1. Everyone has the potential to be a high performer. The necessary skills can be practised and honed. Curiosity to learn, a strong work ethic and leadership skills (such as a commitment to bettering others as well as oneself) are all indications of an individual primed for long-term sustainable performance.

Get right: Provide your people with the support to truly grow

Many traditional ‘off the shelf’ options are available for employees. Research suggests that organisations should actively focus on bespoke people development areas such as performance coaching. Shifting from a learning and development platform to a learning development experience is paramount to sustainable performance.

Interested in a further conversation about personal, team or leadership performance?