Leading top-performing teams

Tuesday 1 December, 2015 | By: Colin Fruk | Tags: HR, culture, management;

Recruiting and training the right people for your teams is only half the battle. The other half is you.

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It’s human nature to blame the bearer of bad news. A team has failed to deliver? Well, it must be their fault. The reality, though, is that it’s often the team leader – such as the owner of an SME – who’s failed to provide the right conditions for success.

Here are three tips to build your leadership capacity. How do you measure up?

1. Leading with emotional maturity

The real test of leadership is what stops a leader from achieving their goal. Sometimes, it’s external situations and seemingly impossible challenges. More often, it’s personal flaws and weaknesses. Perfection, for example, demands meticulous precision rather than reasonable effort, and creates impossible expectations for teams. Instead, emotionally mature leaders seek to achieve balance, including self-awareness, self-control, strong social skills and empathy.

Want to know more? Read Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Daniel Goleman’s world-leading book is still brilliant, 20 years after its first publication. 

2. Commit to execution

When you’re on an entrepreneurial roll, it’s hard to slow the ideas down long enough to put them into some kind of order. Where many CEOs fail in their leadership is in valuing ideas over execution.

There’s no doubt Virgin founder Richard Branson is an extraordinary innovator – but he’s said many times that he learned early in his career to hand over the ideas to his key managers so they’d get done. As a leader, you need to do the same. Value the ideas but ensure they fit within your strategy, then commit to their full execution so their potential can be realised.

Want to know more? Read Execution: The discipline of getting things done.Written by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burck, it’s a great guide for translating thought into action.

3. Being everyone’s friend

The reality is that conflicts will and do happen within teams. Wise leaders leverage constructive conflict to get better results and understand that destructive conflict won’t be resolved without intervention. 

Where some SMEs get stuck is in a need to be everyone’s friend, misunderstanding the difference between friendly and friendship. Assume that you need to be best mates with everyone in your team and you may discover you lack the distance to deal well with conflict when it arises. 

Successful leaders maintain healthy boundaries and make resolving conflict – and building trust, for that matter – the shared responsibility of team members.

Want to know more? Read Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback.

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