Is your school’s culture one of Peak Performance?

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“Hire good people and get out of their way.”

Many school leaders believe in the quote above, and they do a good job of vetting candidates, checking references, and asking tough interview questions, all to find “peak performers” to fill openings.

 

What happens with the rest of the staff? Is the same diligence and care used to develop the entire staff as a team and create a caring, productive, and effective culture?

Creating an exceptional culture means leading with integrity and with a team-focused mindset. It’s understanding the characteristics of peak performers and tapping into their strengths to grow a “peak performance culture.”

After over 20 years of study, Charles Garfield found 6 unique characteristics of peak performers. Interestingly, he did not find that peak performers had unusually high IQs; he found that they had something else that led them to create exceptional results.

 

 1.    THEY HAVE A MOTIVATING MISSION 

Garfield found that peak performers are internally motivated, with a sense of purpose that is not tied to an external sense of purpose. Given a task, peak performers will complete it while always looking for a way to contribute to a greater purpose. 

 2.    THEY TAKE RESULTS-ORIENTED ACTION

The peak performers in Garfield’s study took action each day to get closer to their goals. They created intentional habits that would lead to the results that they sought. 

 3.    THEY HAVE SELF-MANAGEMENT THROUGH SELF-MASTERY 

Peak performers are critical thinkers and analyzers. They are able to determine what’s working, what’s not working, and how to make changes to get results. They work independently, are self-motivated, and seek progress on a consistent basis. 

“We must develop processes based on the deep-rooted belief that we are all in this together.
-Charles Garfield

 4.    THEY’RE TEAM BUILDERS AND TEAM PLAYERS 

Peak performers appreciate and desire a team, because they know that they can achieve more with a team than individually. They put the mission of the team and organization ahead of their own personal egos. While they are self-motivated and industrious, they understand how they can best serve a team or build a team to achieve results. 

 5.    THEY CORRECT THEIR COURSE

Peak performers understand what it means to “fail forward,” and when faced with negative outcomes or results, they will analyze the situation, their contributions, and correct their course. They are also able to take their teams in new directions to achieve the desired outcome.

 6.    THEY MANAGE CHANGE EFFECTIVELY

Peak performers are not afraid of change, understanding that it is crucial to iterations and advances. They don’t take change or failure personally, and they are able to adapt to changes with intentional redirection of efforts.

As you think about the culture in your school…

   -Do you know who your “peak performers” are? 

   -Are you a peak performer? 

   -Do you know how to create a culture of peak performance?

   -Are your mission and goals clearly defined?

   -What values guide the team as it works to achieve the mission?

   -What is one step you (or the team) can take to move toward a peak performance culture?

 

Garfield, Charles A. Peak Performers: The New Heroes of American Business. New York: W. Morrow, 1986.

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