How do companies get the emotional commitment from employees which leads to peak performance?

This is the key question that Jon Katzenbach’s Peak Performance book deals with.

Almost all organizations selected were successful for at least a 10 year period based on enterprise performance criteria, such as shareholder return, customer satisfaction and quality. Many such as Marriott, Southwest Airlines, 3M, and Home Depot show up.

It all boils down to emotional employee commitment

Katzenbach’s Center of innovation research team identifid five paths to peak performance.

The Katzenbach Center of innovation research determined that having only one path to emotional commitment was not usually sustainable.

Multiple paths are

a better way to go.

He also found that some organizations need to shift their path over time as growth or other changes make the original path ineffective.



Balanced Paths Notable Examples
Mission, Values & Pride
  • U.S. Marine Corp
  • Marriott International
  • 3M
Process & Metrics
  • Avon Manufacturing
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition
  • Johnson Controls
Entrepreneurial Spirit
  • Hambrecht & Quist
  • BMC
  • Vail Ski School
Individual Achievement
  • The Home Depot
  • McKinsey & Company
  • First USA
Recognition and Responsibility
  • KFC
  • Marriott International
  • Southwest Airlines


Katzenbach offers direction on which path(s) to peak performance make sense for your organization.

He uses Marriott International as a good example to illustrate balancing three paths to emotional commitment.

Marriott integrates these three paths well according to the author:

  • Mission, Values & Pride
  • Process & Metrics
  • Recognition and Celebration

Discipline that leads to pride is a critical ingredient in employee commitment.

Katzenbach feels that self-discipline rarely occurs in large numbers of people without wise enforcement of top leaders. The combination of institutional, peer and self-discipline at all levels of the workforce is critical to high performance. While it may sound like heresy, discipline and empowerment go hand in hand in successful organizations.

These successful companies used disciplined practices in a limited set of areas to channel energy into performance. They also worked hard at developing integrating mechanisms to ensure cross organizational alignment.

The author spends a good deal of time comparing the success of Southwest Airlines, the only airline to be profitable for over 20 straight years, with the very successful US Marines. It’s a fascinating comparison.

Some of the key similarities he found are:

  • Using discipline to build pride in self and the organization
  • Emphasizing individual responsibility
  • Selection of people who fit with their values, and could identify with their mission
  • Quickly weeding out those that do not fit the values or identify with the mission, or are not disciplined enough to deliver on the values.
  • Focusing on the front line work force caring about each and every person
  • Turning ordinary people into top performers


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