What Is Peak Performance for Managers?

How would you define managerial success? What determines peak performance for managers?

Most of the clients I work with are busy executives and managers who all work hard to be good at what they do and produce good outcomes for their people and organizations.

It may be easier to first say what does NOT qualify someone as a success:

  • It’s not how much money they make
  • It’s not their title or position in the company
  • It’s not their home, their car, their status symbols
  • It’s not their trophies, awards, fame
  • It’s not their IQ or cleverness
  • It’s not even their good looks and social savoir faire

It’s not even talent, it’s overrated too. But here’s a definition put forth by Dr. Ned Hallowell, author of Shine, Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People.

“What really matters is what you do with what you’ve got. If you hold nothing back, if you take chances and give your all, if you serve the world well, then you will exult in what you’ve done and you will shine – in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of those who matter to you, and in your own eyes as well.”

It seems to me that the best managers bring out the best from their people, no matter what kind of organization they’re in. And that is one of the hardest things to do, isn’t it? It’s probably just as hard as parenting. Maybe harder… and certainly just as important.

The way we manage our employees has a huge impact on the lives of many people and on the results of the organization.

I’m reading Dr. Hallowell’s book Shine, about how to bring about peak performance. What I like about it is that it combines research from a few related fields and applies it to managing people:

  • Positive psychology
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Brain science
  • Flow experiences
  • Learning styles
  • Social intelligence
  • The studies on happiness
  • The studies on employee engagement

He synthesizes recent research into a five-step Cycle of Excellence, that managers can use to bring out the best in their employees. Those five steps include crucial elements like these:

  1. Select—put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brain.
  2. Connect—strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
  3. Play—help unleash individual’s imaginations at work.
  4. Grapple and Grow—when the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
  5. Shine—use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your team’s desire to excel.
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