The Nine Behaviors of Outstanding Performers Do you wonder what would make you really stand out and vividly show you’re ready for more responsibility and career growth? Are you uncertain which actions would lead to your highest productivity and personal effectiveness? Or are you and others in your organization unsure what criteria to use in promoting frontline performers into leadership roles?

New Zenger Folkman research provides clear answers to these key questions. The study analyzed data from 50,286 360-degree evaluations of 4,158 individual contributors. They compared those rated as good performers (40th to 70th percentile) to great performers (90th percentile and up). There was a dramatic difference in productivity between good and great performance. Average performers had productivity ratings at the 46th percentile. The best performers’ productivity was rated at the 89th percentile!

So what differentiates the good from the great? As outlined in their Harvard Business Review blog, “The Behaviors that Define A-Players“, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman found these nine behaviors — in rank order — lead to extraordinary performance:

1. Set stretch goals and adopt high standards for themselves
2. Work collaboratively
3. Volunteer to represent the group
4. Embrace change, rather than resisting it
5. Take initiative
6. Walk the talk
7. Use good judgement
8. Display personal resilience
9. Give honest feedback

The good news is you don’t have to be superhuman and great at all of the nine behaviors. As I outlined in “Exceptional Leaders Aren’t Well Rounded“, our research shows that developing a few of these areas into towering strengths will elevate effectiveness from good to great.


For the past 30 years and Leadership Excellence have identified and recognized the Top 500 leadership organizations in their yearly ranking. At this year’s conference Zenger Folkman was honored with being awarded 1st place in the three top categories. The “Global Leadership Excellence” Award was given for Zenger Folkman’s flagship leadership development program, The Extraordinary Leader. Zenger Folkman also placed 1st in the category for “Top Partner and Providers” Award. Finally, Jack Zenger received a new award for “Top Leader of the Year,” based on his exceptional thought leadership and unparalleled contributions to the training and development industry.

Learn more at Zenger Folkman Receives Highest Honors at Leadership 500 Excellence Awards.