The end product of really successful leadership is a high performing team and its possibly one of the hardest elements to get right for most first time leaders. Most first time leaders haven’t had experience in delegation, managing people, providing direction – the list goes on. The evidence of your effectiveness as a leader lies in the quality of the team that you have built around you and your ability to maintain and lead that team by example.
Here are some key elements to high performing teams:
- Clear, realistic and challenging objectives.
- The team is focused on what has to be done – broken down into stretching but feasible goals – and everyone is moving in the same direction, towards the same overall goal – your one wildly important goal for the business.
- Shared sense of purpose
- This doesn’t mean that the team can recite the mission statement. A high performing team with a shared purpose is much deeper than that! Purpose in this sense is energy plus direction. Give them both a clear direction and the motivation to get there. A shared purpose should motivate the whole team. They should all share a sense of ownership and responsibility for team success. Ultimately they will be holding themselves to account – see below.
- Progress review
- A high performing team is able and willing to monitor their own progress and to generate their own improvements. These improvements encompass process – how we work together – and tasks – what we do together. The ability to hold each other to account is key here.
Instead of a parent-child style of accountability in the workplace, a model more resembling a football team is preferable — you’re creating a team, after all.
The footballers aren’t invested because the coach told them they had to be, or because the coach will punish them for failure.
The footballers know beyond all doubt that success and failure of the team rests on the shoulders of each individual’s performance, but they are all a team when it comes to succeeding.
They perform solo, and yet they are bound up together through their shared passion for, and investment in, their chosen endeavour.
Each person is responsible to the other team members for giving their absolute best because of their collective pursuit a win.
- Building on experience
- A blame culture spoils any team. Errors will be made but the greatest error of all is to do nothing so as to avoid making any. A high performing team learns from failure, realising that success teaches us nothing and continual success may breed arrogance.
- Mutual trust and support
- A high performing team trusts its members to pursue their part in the common goal. Appreciation is expressed and recognition given amongst and by their peers. A high performing team has people who play to each other’s strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses. When that level of support is high the atmosphere created is one of openness and trust.
- People listen to one another and build on one another’s contributions. They communicate openly and with skill. Issues, problems and weaknesses are not side stepped. Differences of opinion are encourage and respected. Team members know when to be supportive and when to challenge.
- Riding out storms
- In times of change an excellent team rises to the challenge and demonstrates its worth. You have built a team with resilience.