23 June 2015

Leadership for High Performing Teams

The pace of the pack is determined by the speed of the leader!


It’s a saying that has been around a long time and yet every day that I am coaching business leaders I am reminded of it.

The number one requirement of the captain of any ship is a clear vision of where the ship is going. If the captain can wave an enticing flag and boldly call ‘follow me’, confidence increases and hesitation evaporates. If the captain adds passion, excitement and enthusiasm to the vision, the value of the vision multiplies and the positive emotion becomes infectious. A keen team energises the business and all activity within and without it. This means all contact with both internal and external customers becomes more positive and pleasurable for all parties.

The number two leadership requirement is the ability to manage change while encouraging innovation and continuous learning. A curious leader who is always looking for new and better ways to communicate with customers, engage with staff, streamline processes and create new revenue streams, is a leader who is on the cutting edge of their industry. This creates competitive advantages for their organisation that offers them a far greater chance of winning the race. A keen team enjoying vigorous personal and professional growth will embrace change, run faster and celebrate the wins with all the energy and excitement that comes with being on a winning team.

The visionary and agile leader who is ahead of the game needs a team that can not only keep up, but also appreciates the opportunity to develop and share in the invigorating experience. The number three requirement, therefore, of a successful leader is the ability to select the right staff and care for them with all the focus of a committed parent that is keen to create an outstanding adult. Recruiting carefully, inducting appropriately, training effectively and coaching/mentoring continuously are the challenges. While external rewards are an accepted motivator (the money has to be right), intrinsic rewards play a much greater part in the success of a high performing team. All the research tells us that employees who feel heard, valued and included are much more productive and happier to boot!

While the pace of the pack is definitely determined by the speed of the leader, the leader is only as good as the team around them. Hence the need to choose each member of the team like it’s the most important thing you have to do this year! Patrick Lencioni writes in his best seller “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” of trust as being the foundation stone of any high performing team. He defines trust as “knowing that when a team member does push you, they are doing it because they care about the team”. And there we have the number four requirement of a successful leader…the ability to trust each and every team member to do the right thing by the team and to hold accountable every other team member to do the same.

So how do we engender trust? Leaders worth their salt are totally trustworthy, they do what they say they are going to do, and they are values driven, encouraging and rewarding the right behaviour in others while rejecting all advances of unethical players. High performing leaders lead by example because they know that the pace of the pack is determined by the speed of the leader. It’s a bit like parenting….
Author: Diana Stowers, Tailored Training

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