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The High-Performance Work Force

People can make a difference in the profitability and success of an organization. This is the conclusion reached in two books I have read – Peak Performance by Jon Katzenbach and Hidden Value by Charles A. O’Reilly and Jeffrey Pfeffer.

Katzenbach characterizes a high-performance workforce as follows:

  1. A large number (more than a third) of employees consistently exceed the expectations of their leaders and customers
  2. The average worker performs better than the average competitor’s worker
  3. A strong emotional commitment to higher standards and aspirations is reflected across the workforce
  4. The collective performance of the workforce is a competitive advantage and is extremely difficult to copy

What then is the secret to developing a high-performance workforce? The answer is simple – leadership. In sports, we see a new coach take over a team with essentially the same players as the year before, yet produce dramatically different results.

In business, as in sports, leadership can have dramatic impact on the performance of the team. I have personally seen examples where two groups of people from essentially the same population perform dramatically different.

Although the answer is simple, the implementation is difficult. The key to unleashing the potential of people is to get the emotional commitment of the workforce to the goals and needs of the organization. This only happens when the personal needs of employees are balanced with the needs of the organization.

It takes a lot of time and effort to make the changes necessary to achieve a cultural change. It begins by developing an attitude within the organization that people matter and can make a difference. Is your organization achieving all that it can? If not, are you blaming the people or are you looking at the leadership capability within the organization? Could another “coach” achieve different results?

The good news is that leadership can be developed – it is not inherited. Anyone can become a better leader.

Source: Ryan Scholz, President, Leadership Strategies Associates