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An Understanding of Our Star Performers

Written by on November 3, 2014

What makes a “star” performer? What separates the Wayne Gretzkys, the Michael Jordans, the Roger Federers, or the Rory McIlroys of the corporate world from average performers: passion, natural ability, talent, hard work? All of these factors contribute, of course, but high-level performance is predominantly created by high-level thinking. The star performers are those who can harness the power of different thinking styles – and apply them to the tasks and projects that will drive real results for their organizations.

Star Power


Jerry Rhodes, who developed the model on which the Thinking Intentions Profile is based, believed that we could achieve the right results if we called on the right thinking at the right time for the right reasons.

Rhodes identified six cognitive styles, but recognized that not all tasks require the same type of thinking. Developing a strategic plan, for instance, calls on our “Soft Blue” thinking – that which enables us to project and predict, to focus on the future while remaining committed to the present. On the other hand, trying to solve a complex problem requires us to use “Hard Green” or “Soft Green” thinking, which breaks out of the box and dares to explore the unknown for solutions.

This is where we find our stars: they are the individuals who are able look at the job at hand and use a decision-making process to determine how they can achieve optimal results most effectively and efficiently. In other words, they can move fluidly within various thinking styles, depending on the demands of the task.

Fluid Use of Thinking Styles


High-performance thinking is the ability to call on the right type of thinking at the right time. It is like learning new languages. When we’re fluent, we can flow in and out of the syntax, grammar, and words of the various languages in an effective way. When we are aware of our thinking styles, then we can become more adept at moving with fluidity and synchronicity in and out of the thinking competencies that are required of us when working independently or in team.

In this way, there is no “best” thinking style, or no “worst” one. The highest performers have the ability to pull all of these competencies together. In addition, they harness and leverage the collective thinking of their teams. This creates a powerful force for learning, for applying once, and for achieving high-level results.

Organizations can see significant increases in productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness when they make an effort to understand the thinking styles at work within them. The star performers are the ones who have a balanced profile in all six thinking styles; the star teams are the ones who have a balanced mix of individuals who can contribute to collective, and powerful, thinking.