Challenge Your Thinking

Developing Peak Performers

"A financial analyst once asked me if I was afraid of losing control of our organization. I told him I never had control, and I never wanted it. If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don't need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it." - Herb Kelleher, Co Founder of Southwest Airlines

High performance people see things not only as they are, but also as they could be. This is the first step in creating an environment and structure where people truly participate and genuinely believe they are integral to the organization's success. When people expand their focus on the possible, they begin to seek new and better ways of doing things. They realize they have the capacity to shape their lives rather than accept things as they are. Leadership is the norm, not the exception. Everyone is encouraged to examine situations and lead in response to them. Previous habits of "doing it this way because we have always done it this way" give way to new attitudes, innovative thinking, and process improvements. The philosophy "if it ain't broke don't fix it," gives way to "regardless of how good it is, we can make it better."

Mentoring people to higher levels of performance requires that you establish the conditions within which performance serves both the organization's as well as the individual's best interests. The structure and culture of the organization must support the efforts of the individuals. Everyone needs to realize that his or her best interests and personal successes are served by the success of the entire organization. If the environment is not conducive to supporting and guiding people to new levels of achievement, new skills and behaviors will not thrive. You cannot lead people to higher levels of achievement if the structures do not support the behavior.

The way people think leads to what they do. What people do leads to results. If you want to improve results, it makes sense to improve the way people think. Significant achievement is not likely without change, and change in behavior starts with a change in thinking.

You have no doubt heard the expression, "We are creatures of habit." There is considerable truth to that statement, for almost all that we do and most of what we think is the result of habits that have been formed during the course of a lifetime. Much of what we do in a 24-hour period demands little conscious thought because we have developed habits that help us accomplish a number of things. Just as much of our behavior is habit, so are most of our attitudes. Attitudes are habits of thought. We have thought the same way about something for so long that it is now a habit. While some habits are useful in preventing us from having to consciously figure out the mechanics each time we confront a familiar situation, many habits keep people from stretching their capabilities and trying new, inventive, and possibly better ideas or techniques. Behavior and performance are likened to attitudes. If you want to improve performance, you have to improve the habits of thought that improve performance.

How are the "we have always done it this way" attitudes and habits holding your organization back from the success you need to achieve?

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC has specialized in business and management consulting, strategic planning, leadership development, executive coaching, and youth leadership. For more information visit www.resourceassociatescorp.comor contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

Norm guided me through a process of reorganizing my department in a way that engaged and energized the whole team. In many ways, I attribute much of my success as a manager to the lesssons that I learned from him. I learned through the insight he shared and coaching that he was truly interested in my success. His honest, tell it like it is approach, combined with his ability to impart his considerable knowledge using clear messages, was helpful in revealing my current (and hidden) strengths, and also come to grips with areas that need improvement.

A. Waples,
Consulting Manager

Executive Coaching & Consulting - Boston, MA

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