Earlier this year, I spoke with an amazing group of Denver-based leaders about simple ways to achieve better results with the same team.
As leaders, we feel a lot of pressure to get the best results possible for everyone connected to our company. As the person ultimately responsible for those results, we often shake things up by getting rid of “non-performers” and bringing new blood into our team. This strategy can work well – until one day it doesn’t. How often have you brought in someone new to discover you just traded one set of challenges for another? Sometimes the trust of the team suffers as they wonder who’s next. Sometimes the person who left was doing more than you realized. Sometimes you find out the grass looked greener on the other side of the fence because it was really AstroTurf.
What if instead, we could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the people already here?
The key is starting with yourself. A leader’s impact on team’s performance starts first with how he or she shows up. As a leader, your actions - starting with your state of being - influences each individual, the systems in which they work, and everyone beyond the organization.
Hey, no pressure. Just everything you do impacts everyone and everything in your company.
The good news is there are three simple steps you can take to achieve better results with the team you have. (Note while these are simple, they are very challenging, and smart leaders get all the help they can from peers and support systems to accomplish them successfully.)
First, as a leader you need to know yourself – your strengths, what matters to you, and where you personally want to go. Everyone has strengths – or superpowers, as I like to call them – and those strengths are vital to a company’s success. Once we know our own superpowers, we can be curious about where they work best, understand our own vulnerabilities, and take action to enlist others with different strengths to compliment ours. During the meeting, the leaders ran through a few simple exercises to help them achieve greater clarity about themselves. When leaders know themselves well, they can better apply their own superpowers for everyone’s benefit.
The next step to better results involves leaders ensuring they are respecting others and sharing their power. In the meeting, we discussed how we all make assumptions about what context others have, and those assumptions often get us into trouble. Team members, starting with the leader, must trust each other to create an environment in which everyone can be successful in their work. Work is hard enough – as leaders, we need to enable each individual to do their best work with as much latitude as possible.
Finally, better performance comes from ensuring the right processes – done right – are in place for the organization, and those processes are always improving. Organizations nurture buy-in when leaders share their desired outcomes and vision and enable others to contribute their perspectives. Involvement builds a spirit of ownership, which enables everyone to work harder – together – to achieve shared goals.
Our group talked about a few of those tools, such as working backward from the outcome and making the right things easy. We also discussed that while working more collaboratively was vital, the most important question is “How do you know if your team is effective?” I shared with the group a few tips that measure the effectiveness of the newly developed tools, so teams know when and how their work is paying off.
Leadership is a learned skill – and as such that learning benefits from structure and repetitive application. The three steps I just covered provide a framework in which leaders can better understand their contribution to success, enlist others in creating that success, and ultimately achieve better performance with their current teams.
I thoroughly enjoyed talking with this group. By being willing to examine how they contribute as leaders, and sharing insights and ideas with each other, I believe they will achieve better results with their teams. And I hope that you have some ideas on how to do the same with yours.