Ruthlessness is a vastly undervalued and unrecognised trait of any High Performer and Great Leader. Mostly it manifests to people external to the leader as extreme business, selfishness or inexplicable commitment. ALL High Performers and Great Leaders ruthlessly triage their days, weeks and months based on what’s most important to their professional strategy – and what supports their resilience and pursuit of it.

High Performers & Great Leaders say “No” on a regular basis. They are ruthless about their time and focus. They are ruthless about whom they spend their time with. Their days are ruthlessly carved up into extreme value adding moments, with flexibility only indulged based on unforeseen value emerging unexpectedly.

High Performance is about being ruthless with those whom do not adhere to your vision, mission or daily values, behaviours or beliefs. Being ruthless in this sense relates to you minimising non-aligned people, behaviours or actions – NOT ruthless in a violent or inhuman sense. In fact, ruthlessness can be applied with great emotional intelligence and social finesse, whilst still being severe. Ruthlessness here, is mindfulness in action. In this context, ruthlessness is not about senseless sackings, mindless money driven decisions nor actions divorced of societal care.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the platform on which High Performers and Great Leaders base their decisions to be ruthless upon. EQ is often cited as having two key components self awareness & conduct, and social awareness & conduct. Coined by Daniel Goleman, EQ is widely regarded as the key to high performance and great leadership. The execution of EQ though takes great discipline and ruthlessness as there are many factors that interrupt your ability to maintain high EQ fidelity.

EQ is a daily challenge, not a discreet once off achievement. Variable bio-physical factors like sleep, exercise and nutrition all can work against, or for, your EQ depending on your level of ruthlessness. Most allow sleep be a inevitable accident at the end of each day, with only a vague plan, process or discipline towards it. Most allow exercise to ebb and flow according to work levels and social engagements. Most see nutrition as a probable factor in health & longevity, but something that is necessarily pushed aside on a regular basis. We all accept that sleep, exercise and nutrition affect our biochemical disposition, but only few make the link to EQ. By being ruthless with your commitment to these bio-physical factors of EQ you stand a much better chance of being a great leader and high performer.

Variable daily emotional factors also exist such as stress, fear & love. Most are subject to their whims and fancies, and few commit to daily practices that curb the impact of them. Mindfulness doesn’t just happen. Being present in the moment is a constant struggle. High pressure work environments are veritable wastelands of good intentioned EQ. To both lightly experience, and heavily witness, these emotional factors is key to EQ, and requires a ruthless commitment to daily practices to ensure you do not instead become victim to them.

Almost 20 years ago in 2000, Daniel Goleman in his groundbreaking article “Leadership that gets results” outlined four major leadership styles that most fantastically impact a business, it’s culture and it’s performance. Since it’s publishing I have religiously referred to it as the best theoretical basis for leadership. Not only does the article detail best practice leadership behaviour, but it also readily translates to a map for high performance.

With only four key positive leadership styles (there are six in total, but two are essential destructive or limited), Daniel Goleman maps the way to implement EQ and social intelligence in the everyday workplace. What becomes immediately obvious is that the ruthless adherence to them, despite internal and external urges to otherwise diverge from them, is crucial if you want to succeed.

Too many distracting or destructive factors exist in the workplace for Great Leaders & High Performers not to be ruthless in their focus, behaviour and execution of EQ. Distracting people and projects, and destructive people and projects are all around. Ruthlessness then, is not an optional extra, when mindfully applied to your EQ, leadership & high performance, it is the blade that carves the excess distraction and destruction from your day.