Peak Performance: Aligning the Hearts and Minds of Your Employees. Jon R. Katzenbach. Harvard Business Review Press.

Peak Performance: Aligning the Hearts and Minds of Your Employees Book Cover Peak Performance: Aligning the Hearts and Minds of Your Employees
Jon R. Katzenbach
Harvard Business Review Press
March 1, 2000

What it does the U.S. Marine Corps have in common with the Marriott? McKinsey & Company consulting group with The Home Depot? Southwest Airlines with Kentucky Fried Chicken? The answer is deceptively simple: they all attribute their success to the peak performance of their front-line employees. But how do these and other widely disparate industry leaders move from merely motivating their troops to igniting the kind of emotional commitment that yields consistently higher performance than their competitors?

In Peak Performance, Jon Katzenbach, world-renowned expert on teams and leadership, draws from an in-depth study of twenty-five such enterprises from a range of industries to show how the best organizations harness and maximize the positive emotional energy of their workforces. Pointing to a wealth of detailed case studies, he reveals that in spite of dramatic differences in business priorities, marketplace dynamics, and leadership philosophies, every company – whether airline, software producer, or restaurant chain – consistently pursued one or more of five distinct paths in building and sustaining exceptional levels of employee performance.

  1. Mission, Values, and Pride path – characterized by a noble purpose, a rich history, value-driven leadership, and ample team opportunities (e.g., at U.S. Marines, 3M)
  2. Process and Metrics path – characterized by clear measures and focused processes designed to reflect worker perspectives as well as performance priorities (e.g., at Avon Manufacturing, Hill’s Pet Nutrition)
  3. Entrepreneurial Spirit path – characterized by an abundance of high-risk, high-reward opportunities, significant employee “ownership” potential, and a hands-off leadership philosophy (e.g., at BMC, Hambrecht & Quist)
  4. Individual Achievement path – characterized by a wide array of opportunities and incentives for personal growth and individual advancement (e.g., at The Home Depot, McKinsey & Company, Inc.)
  5. Recognition and Celebration path – characterized by a high level of attention paid to nonmonetary recognition and rewards for individual and group accomplishments (e.g., at KFC, Southwest Airlines)

Essential to the success of any given path is leadership’s commitment to striking a balance between overall enterprise performance and individual worker fulfillment. The book shows how managers can use the five patterns as a framework of options for making choices about

  • where and how to generate emotional energy,
  • what approaches to use in channeling that energy to improve performance, and
  • how to instill the discipline required to keep energy and commitment at extraordinary levels.

Filled with practical insights and frameworks to help leaders shape their own balance paths, Peak Performance shows how to unleash the full individual and collective potential of people – at the frontline and across the broad middle. It will be an essential guide for leaders in every industry interested in achieving and sustaining higher performance levels than workers themselves think possible, than management or customers expect, and than competitors can realistically imitate.

Jon R. Katzenbach is the senior partner of Katzenbach Partners LLC, a consulting firm in New York City that specializes in leadership, team, and workforce performance. He is the author of Teams at the Top and co-author of Real Change Leaders, as well as of the best-seller The Wisdom of Teams.