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A perfect “professional improvement” storm is when opportunities for learning, reading, and development come our way from all directions. Sometimes the opportunities are because we are proactive and explore new books, subscribe to new magazines or online communities, or immerse ourselves in the most current research; sometimes the opportunities are introduced to us by colleagues, “Thought this might be of interest to you given the work you’re doing in ‘x'” or more simply, “I read ‘x,’ and know that we will all benefit from reading it and applying it to what we do.”

So, why hope for a perfect storm of professional development? It all boils down to improving one’s individual performance. It’s why my colleagues and I rounded on the question, “What are you reading?” It’s why minutes after the news release announcing this year’s Baldrige Quality Award winners Dr. JoAnn Sternke, Superintendent of Pewaukee School District, one of the award-winning organizations, tweeted “Keep on improving.” It’s why Dr. Janet Pilcher states that leaders must be consistent in addressing performance issues so that leaders and their organizations do not lose momentum.

This idea of a perfect storm for improving individual performance aligns with Collins’s description of the Level 5 Leader (2001); that is, these leaders were completely determined to do what was necessary to make the organization great. And, they let the company’s performance speak for itself. Think about improving your performance in the same way by doing what is necessary to help make you and your organization great.





Dr. JoAnn Sternke is Superintendent of Pewaukee School District (WI). Prior to earning the 2013 Baldrige Award, Sternke led the school district to receive the state’s highest award, the Wisconsin Forward Award. All schools in the district have an “excellence” distinction. In a presentation last month titled “Creating a Culture of Excellence,” Dr. Sternke shared the continuous improvement process that set the stage for Baldrige recognition. Read our What’s Right post highlighting her presentation here. Follow Dr. Sternke on Twitter at @jsternke. For more information about Pewaukee School District check out its website at http://pewaukeeschools.schoolfusion.us/. Follow the school district on Twitter at @PewaukeeSD.

Dr. Janet Pilcher is Senior Leader at Studer Group and leads its Education Division. She is co-author of How to Lead Teachers to Become Great which shares leadership tactics to help school leaders create a school full of great teachers.

Collins, Jim. 2001. Good To Great. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.