The “Secret Code” of Success

Sucess businessman climbing on stair against conrete wall with key hole door ,sunrise scene city skyline outdoor view .

By Ben Laker, Mark Ridley and Ian Mills

What is the greatest formula for high-level success? In this article, the authors highlight the significance of fulfilment, control, resilience, influence and communication in making performance at its best. Armed with this insight, when recruiting in the future, leaders will be far better equipped to investigate the deeper motivations and beliefs that drive the best-of-the-best.


Based on 20,000 hours of comparative analyses across the spectrum of performance and interviews with the world’s most iconic leaders from organisations including Adidas, Cisco, GSK, JP Morgan, Microsoft, Oracle, Steinway & Co. and Vodafone, a recent study from Transform Performance International (LID Publishing, 2017), presents the most rigorous global evaluation of how leaders behave and are driven, which in doing so reveals the “secret code” behind consistent and high-level success.

Insights from this study are fascinating and suggest that five core beliefs are held by all leaders, referred to as Destination Beliefs because many of those interviewed regard their professional (and personal) life as an ever-expanding journey. Whilst they acknowledge the importance of the belief in shaping their mind-sets and behaviours, they point out repeatedly that these core beliefs are aspirational, evolving continuously, and certainly not finite.

But this was not the whole story. It was clear that the Destination Beliefs are necessary components of a leaders’ belief system, but what really separated the top performers from the lower performers was how those beliefs were interpreted and synthesised internally. Put simply, for each Destination Belief the interviewees described attitudes towards the belief which spanned a spectrum.  These were the 10 sub-beliefs, referred to as Journey Beliefs because they demonstrate how we respond to what happens to us on the journey.

High performers are constantly evaluating themselves against a personal progress goal to be the most professional, productive person they can be.

What is most interesting is that the interviewees experience and even wrestle internally with journey beliefs from either and/or both ends of the spectrum. The most successful leaders respond to certain journey beliefs with greater intensity than they do to others. And it is their response to the intensity of the journey belief which then drives a behaviour. Journey Beliefs lay out in front of leaders the path that they will walk through. And whilst much may have been said and written about having the “right kind of attitude”, now, for the first time, it can be measured in a specific population. Here, finally, is a causal chain of five components, a formula for success – The Secret Code.

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About the Authors

Dr Ben Laker is  Partner at Transform Performance International.  He helps Fortune 500 firms including Apple, American Express, Cisco, Dow Chemical and Liberty Global to do more, more quickly with more certainty using analytics, machine learning and big data. Formerly a Visiting Professor at The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy, he maintains an active interest in academia through an association with the Centre for High Performance, a research institute he cofounded in 2013 that works with NASA, The New Zealand All-Blacks, The Royal College of Art and The Royal Shakespeare Company among others.

Mark Ridley is Founding Partner at Transform Performance International. Mark is a driving force behind this highly successful UK-based firm. An inspirational coach and co-author of 100 Big Ideas to Help You Succeed (LID, 2013), he has worked as a strategist, chair and facilitator with global brands, investment houses and academic institutions for over 25 years, in 60 countries, inspiring leadership and coaching talent, growing sales and transforming the way people communicate. He facilitates regularly at major conferences and events worldwide and is an acknowledged expert in sales leadership, emotional intelligence and collaborative excellence.

Ian Mills is Managing Partner at Transform Performance International, Ian is a co-author of 100 Big Ideas to Help You Succeed (LID, 2013) and numerous white papers. He has been a salesperson and led sales organisations in the fast-moving consumer goods, financial and technology sectors. Since 1999 Ian has been a leading light in the building of a globally successful performance improvement consultancy that has delivered solutions in over 60 countries. From Lima in the west to Beijing in the east, he has led behaviour change and transformation projects with corporations such as Hewlett-Packard and Maersk.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.