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High Performance Leadership Tips

To Get People To Connect and Perform

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So, one of your team members is basking in the sun at lunch time, and his phone rings, he looks down and your name flashes up. What does he feel in that moment?

Is it a happy, "Oh, its (your name) I wonder what she wants" Or is it a stab of anxiety and, "Ugghh its my boss what's she going to whack me with this time?"

Either reaction comes about because of how you have shown up as a leader and the emotional impact you have had on the people around you.

This is one of the most important leadership tips you'll ever get ... your success or failure depends upon how people feel about you.

In one of the leadership development programs I run called, "Would You Want To Be Led By You" I ask participants to write down the six words that you'd like people to use to describe you.

I then ask them to write down, hand over heart what they think people are actually likely to say today. And finally, I get the people they work with to let me know in three sentences, or less, how they would sum up this leader - with both positive and negative observations.

The results can be eye-opening to say the least.

Some leaders realize that the people they work with don't necessarily view them through the same lens as they view themselves.

Some leaders realize the list they write down of what they'd like people to be saying about them and the list that they know is likely to come back to them ... have a gap ... sometimes a yawning gap!

And some leaders .... those high performance leaders ... the today list, the how they'd like to be described list and the sentences back from their colleagues all have fairly similar sentiments.

Where do you fall - a real match between how you'd like to be viewed and how you are viewed or is there a conflict?

There is one thing you can rely upon as a leader, if people aren't inspired by you, if you aren't inspiring to yourself ... you're going nowhere fast! You'll get to that rocking chair at the end of your life and look back and be thinking ... "Is that it?"

So what is it that high performance leaders - remarkable leaders - do differently from the 'run-of-the-mill'? How do they make that emotional connection with others, that causes people to want to go where they lead? Well it isn't at all about group hugs and soul-bearing sessions. It's a bit more practical than that!

There are a myriad of things you could do to be a remarkable, high performance leader who is inspired and inspiring - but if I could only give you my top 7 leadership tips they would be:

  1. Have a clear picture of where you are going and how you are going to get there
  2. Hold yourself to a higher standard and show up consistently
  3. Spend time in reflection and introspection
  4. Get people focused
  5. Set clear goals and measure performance
  6. Help people to feel they belong
  7. Coach up or coach out fast

Clear Picture Of Where You Are Going

All the remarkable leaders I work with have a very clearly defined vision, mission, and values statement (which we call their Inner Compass), which they use to ensure they get to the end of their life and they know that it is is a life where they made a dent, that they flourished and used much of their potential.

Think this is all airy fairy, blah blah stuff? Think again. People who have a clear picture of where they are heading have always led people who don't. You don't have to be a history buff to know the truth of this statement.

You can have the greatest vision in the world, but if you don't follow it up with a clear set of values that you use to drive your decision-making, you'll end up being in the Donald Trump, Kardashian, camp ... Some sort of success (depending upon how you measure it), but not really adding a whole lot to the world. Not making a really positive dent.

Wouldn't you rather be in the Tony Hsieh, Richard Branson, Oprah, Bob Proctor, Marva Collins camps ... people who are successful and do it in a way that inspires others. Sure, none of these people are flawless angels, yet they are all good role- models on how to make a real positive dent in the world.

If you've never created an Inner Compass get to it now. If you've already got one in place, make sure that it is up-to-date and still reflects where you want to go and how you want to get there.

Hold Yourself To A Higher Standard

Having an Inner Compass is great, but if all you do is document your vision, mission and values and then don't use it to drive your decision-making, drive how you show up in the world ... it will be like the vision, mission and value statements of the majority of companies that aren't high performance ... words on paper that are meaningless.

Using their Inner Compass high performance, remarkable leaders hold themselves to a higher standard. When they let their standards drop they use a mantra like, "I am better than that, the next time I intend to .... " They fix problems they create, they work at anticipating how they can avoid problems before they arise.

Once you've got your Inner Compass hold yourself to that standard and work consistently at excelling.

Introspection and Reflection

High performance leaders absolutely spend time reflecting on how they are performing. What they did well, where they could improve. This is truly one of the elements that set high performers apart. They don't just blindly rush from one meeting to the next, from one crisis to another.

They build into their diaries time to stop and think - For example, What went well in the meeting? What could I have improved? Who do I need to have a conversation with following this meeting - so that I can enrich our relationship?

If you get the discipline of building 10-15 minutes into the end of every meeting you attend, so you can spend time on introspection and reflection, you'll be amazed at how much more productive and inspiring you'll become.

How Can I Improve

Get People Focused

Work with purpose is passion - work without passion is punishment. Remarkable leaders are great at connecting their team with the Vision and Mission of the organization - why they are coming to work, beyond the pay check.

Several of the leaders I coach ask their people this on a regular basis (and ask themselves daily!): "Why did you turn up at work today? What's your purpose, what's your focus?".

Because if people are just focused on getting tasks done, they'll leave work at the end of the day with that blah feeling ... 'Does what I do really make a difference?'

However, if you get them focused on their purpose and on why they are doing what they are doing and how they are going to do it ... you'll go a long way toward getting them emotionally connected to their work.

And, don't discount emotions. Emotions and the consequent feelings that come from those emotions, drive performance.

I'm sure you've heard the story of three men laying bricks. Each one was asked, "What are you doing?" The first man replied, 'I'm laying these darn bricks!'. The second replied 'I'm putting food on the table for my wife and kids'. The third one replied, 'I'm building a cathedral, and one day right where we are standing, the spires will rise high above us, people will come and look at it in awe, people will come inside this beautiful building to be inspired and to worship their God and feel at peace'.

If the first two bricklayers had had a leader who connected them to their own personal value in being part of the project, do you think they may have had a higher level of commitment to it?

People only get out of bed for two reasons - inspiration and desperation. Running on desperation, people are coming to work with a 'have-to' feeling - they have to come to work to pay the mortgage, put food on the table, get the kids through school, pay for the next holiday.

Running on inspiration, people are coming to work with a 'want-to' feeling. They come to work because they feel they are having an impact, they like the people they work with, they feel they belong, they believe in what their business is doing. Remarkable leaders are truly skilful at connecting people with what inspires them.

Set Goals and Measure Performance

People are naturally competitive, they instinctively want to feel they are achieving and making an impact ... yet many organizations don't really take advantage of this.

Imagine I take you down to the local bowling alley, and get you set up to play, but I don't tell you how you'll know if you've been successful. I don't give you a target to strive for - and even worse - every time the bowling ball gets half-way down the lane I pull a big curtain down, so that you can't see how many pins you've knocked over.

Could you imagine that being a fun game to play?

Every day of the week, people are down at sporting events chasing down goals, getting measured against how they are performing, trying to win that Gold Medal/Championship etc. People love the thrill of the chase, the thrill of competing against themselves or others, the thrill of improving. If you haven't set up the conditions for them to feel those thrills, you are shutting down some of their emotional touch-points, and you are likely getting lacklustre performance.

Thrill Of Chase

Work with your team individually and collectively to set goals and make sure they've got regular, timely feedback that enables them to track progress and work on how they can continuously improve their own performance.

Help People Feel They Belong

Do you realize it is only some 250 odd years ago that we stopped being hunters and gatherers living in small communities and moved into offices and factories? In the scheme of the couple of hundred thousand of years since we turned up on the planet as humans, or go back about a couple of million years to when Homo erectus showed up ... that is just a blip of time.

And yes, we may be the most adaptive beast on the planet, yet our instincts are still very caveman-like. We still have strongly ingrained in us our fight and flight reflex (which is another article - but does show up in organizational life as aggressive, passive-aggressive, passive behavior etc).

What is important to realize is that instinctively we still have this strong need to belong. To feel that we are part of a community. If you've got people who don't feel they belong, who are in teams larger than 7 (plus or minus two) and feel they aren't heard or that they matter - you're likely to have problems.

Review the article Acceptance and Belonging for more on how to help people feel that they belong.

Coach Up or Coach Out Fast

The leaders I coach are not broken - they are great men and women who are already remarkable and want to fine-tune or who are committed to becoming remarkable.

Yet, the most consistent topic that many of my clients want to discuss is the under-performance of one of their team members or a barbed relationship they have with someone.

It continues to amaze me that in this day and age organizations still aren't teaching, and embedding into the DNA of their culture, how to coach up and coach out fast.

Nothing brings the performance of a team down quicker than under-performers. They are a blot of ink in a clean glass of water - they discolor everything and everyone around them.

As a high performing leader, you must hold yourself and your people to really high standards. As soon as you witness someone's performance slide you need to do something about it.

Sure on the first occasion, depending upon what it is, you might take note and let it slide. The second time, you might make a diary note, but by the third occasion, you must be addressing the issue with the individual. If you don't it is team suicide.

Your first focus should always be on coaching the person up to the level of performance you need. However, if the person doesn't want to or can't get to that level, then you must coach them out of either their role, your team, or the organization fast. Don't let it linger on for months on end. It is kinder to you and to the individual.

I often say if you are playing cricket and your team member is better suited to playing baseball, then help them to find a diamond to play in, rather than a pitch!

In closing, next time you ring a colleague, what emotional reaction will you elicit? I've had leaders who even when they are the bearer of 'bad' news, I'm still happy they've called. Could you be that leader?

If you'd like to dig deeper into how to do any of these tips at a remarkable level, feel free to contact me about coaching, workshops or one of the online training programs. I've got something that will suit most budgets!

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