EMERGENCE – What is Now Needed for Leadership Teams to Become High Performance Teams

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |High Performance Leadership|EMERGENCE - What is Now Needed for Leadership Teams to Become High Performance TeamsLike those old scary movies… creature from the black lagoon. Moonlight on the water, ripples small at first. Then you see a head, then neck, shoulders, a trunk emerges, all covered in black yucky goo, smelling putrid and sulfuric. The creature is covered in wretched mud, dripping stinky black slime, standing on the bank gazing outward. That is how I feel. That is exactly how I think I look. Only I am emerging from the Pandemic.

Now imagine a group of creatures, dripping, stinking, and standing on the bank, male, female, big and small – about seven give or take and you have what company leadership groups look like as they emerge from the pandemic and take their first steps in dealing with the new reality.

It has been tough for many organizational leadership teams. In the beginning of the pandemic many companies experienced immediate slowdowns and uncertainty going from a growing company to a shrinking company. There was getting and managing PPP. This was harrowing and un-tested ground!

Slow business growth and emergence began in early summer and has continued throughout the year. We got used to working at home and working remotely and Covid protocols. This was spiced up by employees and leadership team members getting and dealing with Covid. Sometimes there were shutdowns, certainly there were quarantines and periodic, unexpected deaths. There was one challenge after another after another.

Today many leadership teams have not been with each other physically for over a year. Vaccines are occurring – I got mine- but what does it really mean? Is everyone getting vaccinated? Can we mandate that all employees get vaccinated? Can we hire only vaccinated people? Can we come to work like normal? When do masks come off and under what circumstances?

The federal government is predicting 6.5% growth starting in the summer……Is that something you and your company are ready for? What planning do you need? Part of that question is answered by asking is your company’s leadership team ready for the growth opportunity that is arising? Is your organization’s leadership team ready to emerge from “we survived the pandemic” to having the organization positioned for growth and health in the new emerging world?

The answer lies in, is your company’s leadership team really a high-performance team and prepared to lead in this new era? Frankly, is the leadership even willing to contemplate that it is a new era? The answer to this question will determine the short-term success of your organization as we emerge. What follows are thoughts and ways to diagnose and improve your leadership team in winning at this new game.

As a business coach, I have heard business leaders refer to many groups as “teams.” I typically cringe, hyperventilate and get a rash when I hear the word because it is usually not an accurate description of the group. I have found it useful to distinguish leadership groups from leadership teams.

Team performance does not just happen. It is not a function of the right combination of personalities or luck; despite what conventional wisdom and typical business pop psychology might have you believe. The following are components that are critical to growing and developing leadership groups into high-performance leadership teams. Much of my thinking here has been influenced by the book, The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith

First, members of high-performance work teams have a common agenda that all members subscribe to and support. These are typically documented, and progress is reviewed and coached usually in at least a weekly manner. For leadership teams that are emerging powerfully and entering the second quarter of 2021 this means they have a plan. No kidding! They are out to cause specific actionable results and they have action plans to support their goals.

Secondly, teams do not spring up by voodoo, and/or magical thinking. It is a focus on team performance and an agreed-upon appreciation of what this means that allows a leadership team to get results. The good communication and good relationships are an outcome and result of a team that is performance driven.

Thirdly, high-performance leadership teams are “a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and a working approach.”

Real teams have members of the team who are mutually accountable for the results. This point of being mutually accountable for the results is critical to the success of the leadership team because it calls for mutual coaching and support between all members of the team. This is different from what happens in Leadership Groups where acceptance of mediocrity and avoiding conflict is rampant.

I am seeing two things. Some leadership groups are feeling their way and seeing what occurs as vaccine rolls out and the variants spread. The leadership teams are not waiting. They are making the bet that health and growth are returning and running down that road with a focused agenda. They are implementing and out in front of the emerging reality.

High-performance leadership teams develop in stages. By teaching these stages, groups can be asked to identify which stage they are in. Once the team has aligned on where it is, have the group design the necessary steps for reaching the next stage. Again, this exercise is valuable for allowing the team to focus on growing, developing, and normalizing their struggles and challenges.

The stages are as follows:

Stage A The exciting stage. This is the birth of the team that is still a group, and there is typically excitement and anticipation about the team’s potential and possibility. There is an uncertainty, but there is also optimism.

While a leadership team may have worked together for years, they may find themselves at this stage post pandemic. They have been separated for a time, the rules of working have altered, and they have been focused on survival. Like the creatures at the beginning of the article they are standing on the bank looking outward. There is optimism spiced with uncertainty as they look to the future.

Stage B The “poop hits the fan” stage is when reality sets in about the challenges facing the group and the organization. New group life can be hard and demanding. It is no longer fun, and there is finger pointing between leaders. Silos are rampant. Mutual accountability is seen as an empty concept. Team members look at whom to blame for their bad results.

How do we bring the company back to our offices? If we have been open during Covid what changes do we make and when regarding our Covid protocol? What is our policy regarding the vaccine….do we make people get it or fire them…? What about our supply chain as our sales increase? How do we make sure we can be on time to our customers? What about hiring – are we facing a labor shortage and what do we do about it? Are there now key hires that we need to go after and how are we onboarding them into the culture? As you can see there are some whopper challenges now facing leadership teams.

This “poop “stage is where most teams die. The leadership team needs to generate commitment to work through the inherent conflict surrounding these issues. This is also where the leader’s dedication to emerging powerfully from the pandemic is needed. Stage B is where focus and discipline are critical for success.

Stage C The “getting behind the game stage.” This is when everyone begins to align behind the company strategy and the leadership team performance in implementing the company strategy. Discipline and focus arise when the group follows the same ground rules and work approach. For the first time, real team performance results are seen.

A clear agenda post pandemic is required for the leadership team and company. This needs to be transparent and coherently communicated to the organization. What I see from the successful leadership team is that there can never be enough communication. Communicate, communicate, communicate, and reward the right actions are the mantras of the successful high performance leadership teams.

Stage D This is the high-performance stage, where the team is using its group structure to produce remarkable results. The team is enthused about the opportunity for growth and health. They are realizing the possibility before the organization.

It is typical, at this stage, for the team to be recognized both internally by employees and externally by customers for the results that are being produced. The teams that I see that are high performance are out and about and doing visits and surveys with their customers. Leadership team members feel connected to one another. The team is winning their business growth and development game.

From doing the above process the leadership team aligns on what stage they are in. You can also use + or – to distinguish the stage you are in. Brainstorming occurs on how the team can improve and move to the next stage. There needs to be alignment on what actions are to be taken and follow up and accountability established.

What follows is another approach in helping a group diagnose where they are in becoming a high-performance team. This is taken from an audit contained in The Wisdom of Teams.

“Even though most of us are familiar with high performance teams, we are imprecise in thinking about them. Imprecise thinking about high performance teams, however, pales in comparison to the lack of discipline most of us bring to potential high-performance team situations. Leadership Teams can significantly enhance the team’s performance by focusing on performance – not chemistry or togetherness or good communications or good feelings.”

As a starting point, think about the six basic elements of a high-performance team when you assess your leadership team’s current situation:

  • Are you small enough in number and do you have a methodology of powerfully meeting and communicating?
  • Do you have adequate levels of complementary skills and skill potential in all three categories necessary for team performance as you emerge into the new world?
  • Do you have a broader, meaningful purpose that all members aspire to?
  • Do you have a specific set of performance goals agreed upon by all? Are there action plans and champions and leaders accountable and acting on all the goals.
  • Is the working approach clearly understood and commonly agreed upon? Are the goals monitored and updated frequently and shared with the entire group?
  • Do you hold yourselves individually and mutually accountable for the team’s results?”

Answering these questions can establish the degree to which your leadership team functions as a real team as you emerge from the pandemic at this critical time. It will help pinpoint how you can strengthen your efforts to increase performance. Have your leadership team pick two areas in which you think you can improve. Which two areas provide the biggest bang for the buck if the team developed itself and improved?

This audit sets real standards and answering the questions will reveal the opportunities to improving your leadership team’s performance. Let the team think through and plan for actions they will be taking in these areas to improve their results. Facing up to the answers will accelerate the leadership team’s ability to develop, grow and become a high-performance team in this new business world.

A year ago, my company clients and myself were in free fall. Recall the news …. scary, dire and overwhelming as everything canceled and locked down. Fast forward a year. We are no longer in free fall and we and our leadership teams are standing on the bank. Stinky yes, gooey yes and on solid ground.

These ideas are intended to be valuable and stimulating as you work to generate a high-performance leadership team. Do not postpone this work. Now is the time. Get cracking! Apply and utilize this material so that you can emerge powerfully from what we have been through. It is worth the effort. Let us know what you are up to and what you accomplish. We are eager to hear about your progress.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Bruce HodesBruce Hodes, President and Founder of CMI, is dedicated to helping companies grow. The focus of his work is developing work teams, business leaders and executives into powerful performers. Bruce has an MBA from Northwestern University and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work.

What Are The Different Approaches And Theories Regarding Leadership?

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|What Are The Different Approaches And Theories Regarding Leadership?While there are many definitions of leadership, it is clear that different leaders, scholars, and authors struggle to agree on a concise definition. John Gardner states that leaders step outside for change and inspire people to share their common objectives. This is a view that is shared by Bass & Stogdill, who define leadership as the art of leading others to do the right thing by sharing a consistent vision. However, through assessing great leaders of the past, we can see that there are different attitudes and opinions regarding effective leadership. Revolutionist Napoleon Bonaparte is considered one of the greatest leaders of all time, as is Martin Luther King. One was a tyrant; a fearless militant, the other inspired his followers into making them believe in an ideal world.

Leadership theories are mainly categorized into Trait Theory, Behaviour Theory, and Contingency Theory. Trait theory, also known as the ‘great man’ theory, is focused on the characteristics of leaders. In 1847, Carlyle stated in his ‘great man theory’ that leaders are born, and only those who have heroic potential could ever become leaders. This has progressed into a leadership theory whereby we attempt to identify characteristics that lead to the emergence of leadership qualities, for example, intelligence, achievements, self-confidence, personality, socio-economic background, demography, and physiological appearance.

Through research, it is evident that the term ‘trait’ is the source of significant confusion and ambiguity in the literature. Behavioral theory leadership was born out of the criticism of trait leadership. This is based on the theory that leadership qualities can be learned, rather than being inherited.

However, it is argued that learning the behavior of a leader does not always translate to results, as it does not factor in how the individual executes this theory. Some also criticize the approach by stating that it emphasizes managing organizations rather than leaders. This style of leadership provides definite conclusions while overlooking the variables in management and change.

There are also differing opinions regarding the Contingency Theory, which was created by Fred Fiedler in the 1960s. This model focuses on identifying a leadership style, with two key factors addressed: situational favourableness and least preferred co-worker scale (LPC). Some argue that leadership styles are fixed, something that has caused differing opinions. Many others argue that this simply brings confusion to the workplace.

Extensive literature research shows that the widespread criticism and perceived rigidness of these key approaches overall have led to new paradigm models, including concepts such as transformational leadership, visionary leadership, and charismatic leadership.

Despite the contrasting leadership styles that are in practice today, one thing that we can all agree on is the importance of developing your own leadership approach is imperative. This is something that industry experts like Bob J Bukowski have done well, enabling them to succeed in their industries.

So there you have it: an insight into leadership frameworks and the different approaches and theories that people use today. We hope that this will give you some inspiration for your own approach to leadership.

5 Things That Business Leaders Should Not Compromise On

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | 5 Things That Business Leaders Should Not Compromise OnAs an entrepreneur, if your business is struggling or your budget is tight, you might be tempted to make some compromises when it comes to your operations and the future of your company. However, there are a few elements of your business that leaders should always avoid compromising on at any cost.

Your Equipment

The equipment and tools that you use within your business can make a huge difference to the efficiency of your operations, as well as the quality of the products that you produce. While doing a better job, high-quality equipment and tools also often last longer, which can save you money in the long run. If you are struggling to juggle the quality of the tools that you are using with their cost, a Northern Tool coupon can help you to get the right equipment that you need without spending a lot of money to do so.

Health and Safety

When you do not have a lot of time or money, it can be easy to let health and safety standards slide. However, not only can you be sued and find yourself facing legal action for doing so, but compromising on health and safety can endanger the lives and health of the employees that you rely on, and can damage your reputation. You should make sure that you always take the right precautions by carrying out health and safety assessments and training regularly.

Quality

The quality of the products that you produce can help you to stand out from other brands and can allow you to get more customers. However, many businesses let the quality of their materials and manufacturing processes dip when they are in financial straits as this can help them to save money on elements such as suppliers and equipment. However, rather than saving money by lowering your standards, you should instead consider cutting your product lines to focus on one or two extremely high-quality and coveted products.

Your Values

When you opened your business, you may have created a mission statement that listed all of your values and which you used to promote your business. Even though it can be easy to forget these during business deals and growth, it is paramount that you constantly reflect on why you started your business and what you hope that it can achieve. This will ensure that you do not lose sight of your end vision and that your business still reflects the ethics, values, and opinions that your customers appreciate when they shop with your company.

Employees

The skills and dedication of your employees can make a huge difference to your business and its ability to be efficient and inspired at all times. So, rather than skimping on the skills of your employees, you should put more effort into training campaigns, consider fixing your recruitment methods, and choose to have a smaller team of highly skilled employees, rather than a large office filled with cheaper workers. You will be amazed at the difference.

How you can use AI to become a more effective leader

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |AI|How you can use AI to become a more effective leaderOne of the greatest challenges of business is dealing with the unknown. As a business leader, you must manage risk and reward every day of your working life.

The ability to know if a new product has been marketed correctly or if your customers are satisfied with your brand is something only skill and experience can bring.

However, the rise of artificial intelligence is a potential ace card up your sleeve, waiting to be used. Armed with the ability to understand your market better, interact with it and know precisely what customers will want next can give you a huge advantage over your competition and help you lead your business far more efficiently.

Here’s how:

You can make far more informed decisions

What is the most important information you need when making a tough sales decision? Consumer data. Without it, you are operating blind, and the right decision is perilously tricky to make.

Thankfully, AI – such as the https://smartboost.ai/ system – changes this, because it can collect and quantify gigantic amounts of data on both your customers and your company. This allows you a deep, meaningful understanding of every single one of your prospects, one-time buyers and lifetime customers. The AI analyzes this data and gives you an easy-to-process report, giving you all the information you could ever need to make a reasoned decision about your brand strategy.

You know exactly how your customers are feeling

Because of this huge resource of information, you can connect far more personally with what your customers are feeling about your brand. As a business leader, it can be almost impossible to stay in touch with ‘on-the-shop-floor’ colleagues and the buyers themselves.

Previously, you could be handed completely warped information on the state of the market. Customer surveys can only go so far. This gives you the ability to correct any flaws in your products and better position your brand in the market.

While AI software will be used differently by different departments, you can use it to stay better connected to the day-to-day running of the overall business and track its progress.

Cut down on wasted resources

When marketing your product, it is difficult to analyze what works well and what doesn’t, especially with any real precision. This often leads to huge swathes of the resource being invested in advertising campaigns and even products that consumers simply don’t want. By using AI software, you can minimize this expenditure and focus on the prospects that are most likely to buy, and the products most likely to sell.

Avoid making mistakes

AI is, obviously, not human. This means it overcomes human flaws by remembering everything it has learned and never making the same mistake twice. Even the most level-headed business leader cannot deliver this level of consistency.

With every passing marketing campaign, the AI software will remember what went well in the past, and what can be improved upon in the future. This allows you to minimize the chances of managerial error and gives you peace of mind that (in theory at least) your strategy should improve the more you use AI.

How to Become a Better Manager by Exhibiting These 3 Leadership Traits

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Traits|How to Become a Better Manager by Exhibiting These 3 Leadership TraitsAs a manager, taking the time to learn and understand how you can become a great leader can aid in improving your team’s success and engagement rate.

To effectively do this as a manager, you need to take a step back and comprehend your strengths, weaknesses, and motivations as far as being a leader is concerned.

Managers often micro-manage their team and monitor their every decision-making process, which can make the workplace less effective and desirable. Employees may even lack adequate motivation to come to work fearing that they will be bashed for their wrongdoings.

If not well monitored, this may result in high turnovers, as employees seek out more fun and enjoyable work environments.
There’s more to it than just being a manager. If you are currently a manager or you are aspiring to become one in your career. You should strive to go beyond just managing a team of employees.

What does this mean? In a nutshell, both managers and aspiring managers should strive to be good leaders at their places of work as it will aid in improving communication, and it will also motivate team growth and development.

It’s worth noting that a team that works under great leadership tends to be more productive and happier as they tend to be easily connected to the organization’s goals and business objectives.

Bearing that in mind, this guide is aimed at providing both aspiring and current managers with tips, they can assimilate to not only become better managers but great leaders at their places of work.

Managers Should Advocate for Both Professional and Personal Growth

Being a manager in charge of your team, part of your obligation is to ensure your team’s growth and success by being the cheerleader of your team.

As the manager of the department, you can set aside some departmental capital to ensure that your team is constantly learning and growing their skills by encouraging them to take up courses on platforms such as Blurt Digital.

This can help your team to become empowered and inculcate whatever knowledge or skill they may have acquired into the daily business operations, boosting productivity.

Not only should managers provide their employees with professional opportunities, but they should also adhere to their team’s personal growth. Managers can invest emotionally in their team by granting them the opportunity to engage in more challenging tasks, which will enable them to expand their creativity.

Interact and Engage in Open and Honest Communication

Having and nurturing open communication with your team members as a manager can be considered to be one of if not the most important aspects when it comes to effective leadership principles. Managers should strive to tailor their modes of communication and interactions in a manner that is suitable for each person in their teams.

Managers who actively portray transparency and open communication skills tend to nurture and build the level of trust among their teams which results in increased morale on the part of the team players.

Improved morale means that team members will go above and beyond to ensure that business and customer objectives are achieved with ease.

As Opposed to Giving Out Orders, Managers Should Teach and Enlighten Their Employees

The old school level of management involved delegating and telling your team what they need to do, without taking a leadership stand and showing your team members how to accomplish the delegated responsibilities.

Instead of persuading your team members to accomplish assigned tasks in a certain way, you as a manager should strive to mentor your team members on the importance of brainstorming and creating a collaborative work environment.

As it is only through coaching that managers can realize improved team engagement and growth in the office environment.