When you take a look in the mirror, what do you see? Is it the confident, articulate leader that others see? Is it the approachable, open, yet decisive leader that you believe yourself to be? Or could there be another kind of leader lurking in the shadows?
Marshall Goldsmith tells an interesting story about the behaviors and actions of a CEO, Bob — and how these combine to impact on Bob’s effectiveness as a communicator. Bob had fallen into the well worn trap of believing that those in his team liked being managed in the way that he enjoyed being managed. This presented a challenge:
My job was to make Bob see the problem, which I like to call the “golden-rule fallacy.” He assumed that his people were just like him and, therefore, liked to be treated the same way he did.
As we go about building our businesses, we find natural affinities with some people. We are drawn to them. We may even nurture those who demonstrate capabilities that are like our own. But what of the rest of your village? Sometimes we need to look into a different kind of mirror to understand how to inspire, drive and deliver high performance.
Professor Teresa Amabile conducted research that showed a powerful link between a leader’s behavior and the high performance, innovation and creativity shown by her teams. It boils down to five (yes only five) elements:
- Emotional support: Clearly, if you consider your team as part of your village, you need to provide some form of emotional support.
- Positive feedback: Leaders need to provide constructive feedback in a positive manner and also provide additional context to help your team members produce better work.
- Recognizing good performance: It sounds trite, but publicly acknowledging good work is essential for high performance.
- Consult with your team: Your village is a vast knowledge base. Use it to the advantage of your business.
- Collaboration: One of the most powerful roles of the leader is to pitch in. Roll-up your sleeves and help your teams close the deal.
And while each of these elements seem to be “every day”, take a look into a different mirror. Think about what your team see when they work with you. What will they take away? How will your words and actions impact their performance both today and through the week? It is the every day, ordinary touches that can create an extraordinary team performance.
Nina Nets It Out: A leader’s behavior can have a significant impact on the performance of a team. Will your interaction with your team today result in a positive or negative experience? How do you ensure high performance? It is simple — focus on the every day interactions and watch the results.
You make several excellent points…
A concern I have is when you look in that “mirror” and see not only yourself – and your team… Are there people in the “mirror” (on your team) that should not be there?
I think a lot of really good books, blogs, etc provide excellent advice while making the “base assumption” that all the right people are on the “bus”. That is usually not the case at all.
A valid argument may be made that “low performers” should not be on the “bus” and should be helped to improve or leave. However… Reality suggests that it takes time to do so – sometimes months or years.
In fact, some of the very good advice you offer may create additional challenges… For example – Recognizing good performance in a low performer may actually create more poor performance if not communicated carefully and correctly. Positive feedback may create a perception that all is well when in fact all is not well – performance-wise.
Of course the best way to avoid this type of problem is to hire the right person in the first place and hold them accountable… Both can be challenging managerial opportunities…
Great insights. I couldn’t agree more that there are times when the people on your team may not be the “right” folks. Low performers ought to be dropped as quickly as can be making room for higher performing replacements “from the bullpen”.
As for recognizing good in lower performers or offering positive feedback, I fundamentally believe this can and should be done. It is not these actions in and of themselves that may lead to challenges, but as you noted, it is the communication of such information that could achieve the job it needs to do or worsen the situation. So, that is why I am so focused on communication skills – clear, concise, unambiguous communication. Easily said, not nearly as easily provided … consistently!
So, once again, as you note, hiring right is easier than hiring wrong and either fixing or scrapping and starting over. Take good care in making sure each and every hire is the right fit for the opportunity at hand.
Had to smile when I saw the 5 (yes, only 5) elements.
The research is more than borne out in practice. I’ve watched two managers who were “on their way up” get derailed because of their vocal unwillingness to do numbers 2 and 3. Their stated reason? “We pay these people a lot of money. I don’t have time to coddle them by telling them they did a good job. They get paid to do a good job and they’re still here. What else do they need to know?
a. One of the managers is no longer a manager.
b. The other is no longer employed.
The lesson: If there are only five things you need to do create and sustain high performance, it might be a good idea to do them.
I’m in violent agreement with you! I don’t think of it as coddling as much as I think of it as acknowledging good work and outwardly encouraging more of it, even so others can see such praise and perhaps take a hint to do some of the same.