3 May 2022

Understanding Your Zone Of Peak Performance to Succeed

Steph Durbin

Red Tiger Consulting


As a Master Strengthscope Practitioner, I have access to many models, theories, and frameworks to support clients’ understanding of their personal strengths profile.

Zone of Peak Performance graphic
Zone of Peak Performance Model, Strengthscope

My favourite of all, and the one I use the most is the “Zone of Peak Performance”, a great tool for helping to pull it all together.

When clients understand how this model works, they gain an awareness of how their past achievements have been affected by the alignment of the three zones, and how they can use their strengths profile to complement the other two zones to achieve greater performance in the future.

The model can apply just as much to personal goals as it does to professional ones and leads to insightful conversations and reflection which helps clients move forward.

I personally use this model alongside a coaching model that examines past “peak performance” occasions and the low points – almost without fail, this examination shows a very strong correlation between performance and achievement with the three zones, when everything is in place, performance follows, and when something is missing the performance just isn’t there.

Using these two coaching tools together is a powerful combination and one that clients can apply throughout their careers, because they can proactively create the right opportunities to excel, where their energy levels are higher, their motivation is contagious, and their success follows.

Here’s my personal interpretation of the three zones, in a way that I describe it to my clients:


Strengths are all about what motivates you, what gives you energy (rather than draining you), and what gets you out of bed in the morning. Your personal Strengthscope report details your own unique combination of all 24 strengths (that we all have, we don’t use the term weaknesses), and we focus on the top 7 – called “Significant 7” – using your highest strengths will motivate and energise you a lot more than your lower ones. It doesn’t mean you can’t use the lower ones, but over time you will not feel the same energy, and you won’t achieve the same results as using your higher ones.

I talk with clients about 3 performance risks:

  • Overuse of your lower strengths – will eventually drain you
  • Underuse of your higher strengths – might lead to missed opportunities to achieve greater things
  • Overuse of your higher strengths – will have an impact on you and others around you

The personal coaching we provide alongside your unique Strengthscope report, covers all of these risks and more, creating a bespoke plan for how to address the risks and how to recognise when you are most at risk of any of them.


Having a clear goal, and understanding it is important to personal success. If it’s organisational, then also understanding the organisation strategy, purpose and desired outcome is important too, knowing what it is that you are contributing to those bigger goals, as well as the specific goal of the task in hand. If you don’t know how your goal relates to the bigger picture, then get curious! Ensuring that your goal is S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound) is important here, else how will you know when you’ve achieved it?


I describe this as “things you have learned, or been taught”. Skills and knowledge come with experience and time, can be bought, passed on from a mentor or learned from studying. In the context of this model, I find a frequent misunderstanding between what people see as skills being strengths and vice versa, and the Strengthscope report helps clients see the difference.

One great example of this might be the use of spreadsheets – if you are highly proficient at this you might think of it as a strength, but it’s actually a skill. Two strengths that might complement this are Results Focus and Detail Orientation, and if these are high in your profile then using spreadsheets is a great skill to utilise, but if they are not high strengths for you then although you can do the task, you might not be as energised in the longer term as you would like.

strengthscope wheel
Strengthscope Wheel


Here’s an example Strengthscope Wheel, showing a person highly motivated by 7 strengths that she had already built her whole career around, and her coaching sessions focussed on how to use these more to gain even more career satisfaction and commercial success.

The second half of this blog outlines this zone of peak performance in some anonymised examples.


Mike is the Managing Director in a small pharmaceutical company, and he has been tasked with building an opportunity in a foreign country. He has a very clear goal, he understands how this contributes to the future success of the company, and he has all the experience (skills and knowledge) to make this a success. However, Mike is really struggling with the networking he has been asked to do.

From Mike’s report we discover that his Relationship Building and Persuasion strengths are both very low (relative to his other strengths), which means that although he has the skills required to build this network, the actual act of doing it is likely to drain him. The consequence of this is that he avoids networking as much as possible and isn’t building the network he needs to get the project off to the best start.

By understanding the Zone of Peak Performance and his personal Strengths profile, Mike realised what was happening to him and was able to plan how to achieve this task whilst mitigating the risk to his own motivation – just by reflecting how his strengths, goals and skills work together gave him the understanding he needed to move forward.


Rose is a very capable HR manager and has been in a new role at small consulting firm. One of her significant 7 is the strength of Enthusiasm. She had been disguising this strength at work because she didn’t want to come across as “too excitable” (her words not mine). By reflecting on her past successes, she recognised that her strengths, skills and goals were all in alignment at those high points in her career.

She realised that her greatest achievements were in fact when she had allowed her enthusiasm to surface, creating opportunities to be creative (Creativity is another of her Significant 7), and she always managed to over-deliver results for her previous employers. This understanding and reflection helped Rose to identify opportunities with her new employer where they could see her Enthusiasm at its absolute best and in combination with her other top strengths, she was soon recognised as a role model within the business for many new projects.


Barry is a Location Planner in a large UK retailer, and is being pushed into a leadership position, which he has doubts about. His 2 highest strengths are Detail Orientation and Results Focus. They’ve always served him well, and he’s built his reputation around exactly these – he says “they are literally what I am known for”. However, his lowest strengths are Leading, Empathy and Developing Others, all in the same Relational quadrant, which means that whilst he is capable of these, and certainly has the skills and knowledge to do the job, we know that using these strengths will not motivate him the same, and over time are likely to significantly drain his energy.

Barry reflected on this for some time, and realised that when he’d had similar opportunities in the past, he hadn’t delivered the great results that he was used to, and these low strengths were most likely the underlying reason for that. We discussed this dilemma over a couple of sessions and he narrowed down to 2 choices – either he didn’t accept the new role at all, or he surrounded himself with people in the new team that did have those strengths, that could support him and “make the right things happen”.

He decided to speak to the recruiting manager again, and checked specifically how much autonomy he would have to choose his own team. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and not only that the manager was delighted that Barry had used his coaching and Strengthscope profile to reach this conclusion, they confirmed that a number of the new team already had a proven record in the areas that Barry was concerned about, and that they would support him fully with his own development and recruiting the right people to make the team “fully rounded”.

He accepted the job and 12 months later is very happy with progress, and the right management of his strengths means that he doesn’t feel buried in the areas that might otherwise have drowned him.


At Red Tiger Coaching we use Strengthscope with teams and individuals and in many career stages – promotions (like Barry), career transitions (moving into a new role/company), career changes, interview preparation, CV writing and much more – get in touch to find out more.


Steph Durbin is our resident Strengthscope Master Practitioner, Executive Coach and Coaching Supervisor. Steph works across a wide variety of industries, working with clients at all career stages from entry level to CEO, utilising her many years of experience to offer support and challenge in equal measure to bring out the best in individuals, teams and organisations.

If you want to know more about Strengthscope and our tailored coaching programmes, get in touch with us by emailing steve@redtigerconsulting.co.uk or even better, visit our Coaching page to book your FREE Clarity Meeting with us to discuss how we can help you.


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Published by Steph Durbin

Steph is a co-founder of Red Tiger Coaching and is an internationally accredited Executive Coach, Boardroom Advisor & Psychometrist. Her background includes a breadth of industries and functions including Retail, Marketing, Strategy, Property Management and Transformation.


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