The ultimate measure of a senior leadership team’s success is the organization’s results. And yet some companies, due to favourable market conditions, do quite well in spite of their dysfunctional leadership teams. Imagine what could happen if the team at the top could get its act together. Is your leadership team effective? Evaluate them on these nine attributes.
- A meaningful purpose: They have a clear and compelling reason to work together. Executive team members are each responsible for a specific company function. One could argue the CEO should be the glue that coordinates the activities, but everyone’s primary concern should be their area of responsibility. In high-performance teams, a commitment to the team’s purpose should be at least as important as the commitment to the purpose for the area each member leads.
- Shared goals: The team needs to focus on a set of outcomes that all members are committed to achieving and that require contribution by everyone. If it’s truly a team goal, everyone will feel equally responsible for its achievement. These are not necessarily the same as the company’s goals.
- The right mix: Team members have complementary skills, experiences, and styles necessary for fulfilling the necessary roles and responsibilities. People know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and aversions. They use this knowledge to create synergy. Members see the value of each person’s presence on the team. There’s a sense of equality among all the players.
- Strong interpersonal relationships: People can be themselves because they genuinely like each other and will do what they can to look out for and support their team-mates. Members trust each other and are trustworthy. The cohesiveness of the team is obvious to people outside the group.
- Helpful operating principles: These agreed upon ways of working together might include a shared set of values, processes for making decisions, ways of communicating within the team and to other employees, and tracking activities.
- Problem solving: The team recognizes when a problem exists, analyzes it, identifies alternatives, and works through conflicts. Once the decision is made, everyone commits to supporting it. Often this is best demonstrated by someone’s willingness to raise a thorny issue in the first place and in the members’ willingness to fully engage in finding a resolution to the problem.
- High levels of candour: People say what needs saying in a direct and respectful manner. Members are receptive to hearing tough messages without becoming defensive. Heated discussions are viewed not as a problem but rather as a positive activity as long as the discussion stays focused on issues or behaviours rather than on personalities.
- Mutual accountability: Members hold themselves and others to the commitments they have made. While the CEO often has the primary responsibility for holding employees accountable for keeping their promises, each person shares in this activity.
- Measuring the important: Effective teams track those things that are most important to their success— progress on key initiatives, performance results, or even behaviours expected of each other and take action when things are not meeting expectations. Carve out time at your next executive off-site meeting to discuss the effectiveness of the team and determine how to strengthen its performance.
1. Empower your employees to shine by helping them own their gifts at work. As you interact with employees, see each one as unique and gifted, especially the star employees. Your role is to find their innate gifts—creativity, facilitating, listening, intelligence, intuiting, writing, leading, researching, teaching, developing, strategizing, motivating, evaluating, and so on. Work with your employees to identify their top two gifts and help bring them to the projects they are working on.
2. Identify exactly what tasks or responsibilities bring your top stars career fulfillment. Meet with your employees to identify the three aspects of their work they find most fulfilling. You want to understand not only what tasks but also which elements of the tasks and responsibilities are most satisfying. Next, help them bring more of this type of fulfilling work into each day. Spend time with your employees to understand the things, other than money, that fulfill them at work. Select two areas through which each employee can cultivate more fulfillment in their current job—mentoring relationships; freedom to create; making a contribution; learning and developing on the job; working with intelligent, creative, and passionate colleagues; participating in the organization’s direction and overall vision; or anything else you would like to add.
3. Encourage your employees to focus more on what’s right with their jobs and less on what’s wrong. Highlight the accomplishments of your employees and help them leverage their areas of success. Not only will this improve their profiles in the company and potentially lead to a promotion or a raise, but it will promote a positive view of themselves and their capabilities. Meet with every employee to discuss and review what is going right on the job. By not always focusing on what is wrong with their work and seeing it as a challenge, employees can focus on and appreciate the many opportunities for making their jobs work for them.
4. Communicate effectively for great relationships at work. Guide your employees to accept the co-workers who challenge them, helping them look for the positive instead of the negative in those people. They can learn to step back, detach from their own agenda and viewpoint, and look at the challenging co-worker with new eyes. This new viewpoint can occur when an employee tries to truly understand their co-workers, what they think and feel, and why they behave as they do. After stepping into others’ shoes and viewing things from their perspective, the question becomes: “How can I accept this individual’s imperfections and shortcomings as well as their strengths and talents?” Encourage managers and supervisors to be more accessible to their employees, especially the stars, so they can better ascertain their primary needs. This way your employees will feel that you genuinely care about them. They will feel listened to. This open communication allows employees to feel comfortable sharing what is on their minds. By responding to employee needs immediately and directly before they become real issues, you eliminate the danger that they will need to find another workplace to get those needs met.
5. Improve your employees’ morale by showing them how to work smarter instead of harder. Spend time with your employees and help them make a list of all their daily roles, responsibilities, tasks, and activities. Help them become aware of how they can simplify their workday: Do more, do it faster, work smarter, and be more fully committed. Then eliminate as much as possible from the list until it reaches a point at which they can’t do it any faster and smarter. Employers need to help their employees look at their entire worklife and all that it encompasses, and learn to simplify. When we don’t simplify, our lives become too complicated, and we become powerless. Help your employees prioritize their activities. Ask them to write down their most important tasks and then rank them in order of priority. If employees need help finding the most important tasks, have them ask themselves: If I could complete one activity/task today, what would it be? Is this activity the best use of my time, knowledge, creativity, and experience? Have them focus on the most important task until it is finished, then recheck the priority list and focus their efforts on the next most important activity.
6. Besides more money, offer quality life programs to help your employees maintain balance between professional and personal life. Help your employees create flexible time (flex-time) for work and their own personal well-being. Teach them how to create a working environment that brings their work and life together in proper balance. This can include making sure your employees have enough hours each week to enjoy non-work activities. Facilitate proper balance by helping employees understand how to use flex-time or other creative scheduling alternatives to spend more time on non-work activities that bring proper balance into their lives. Many employees have difficulty in properly balancing their lives because their worklife is so consuming. When employees begin to gain self-control and equanimity in their worklives, they will have made space for other parts of their lives. To create balance in their work/personal lives, you can help your employees to: keep their self-expectations and those of their manager at a reduced level; “under promise” and “over deliver”—promising far less than they know they can do or less than the person is asking them to do; learn to say no to nonessential tasks and to people who might be inappropriately monopolizing their time; take breaks throughout the day to revitalize themselves; realize the importance of not taking work home with them on a regular basis to separate their work life from their home life.
7. Ask employees to identify and focus on what is enjoyable. Have your employees get together to select and discuss the most enjoyable activity or project in their jobs. Then ask them to make a list of all the activities or projects they need to complete that day or the next. Have them select the one they find most enjoyable and begin the day working on that one. Once every couple of weeks, encourage your employees to select an “enjoyable” task as their focus for an entire day. Help your employees identify the work they find most enjoyable, those tasks that excite them or that they find themselves repeatedly drawn to doing. Once they have identified two elements that they enjoy, have them create new projects that incorporate those activities.
8. Improve your employees’ overall relationship with their jobs through active involvement and constant praise. Give your employees the opportunity to make a difference and become more actively involved in the organization by having them volunteer their time to support and help run some of the company’s internal functions and take part in off-site company volunteer efforts. People need to know that their efforts for the company are recognized. Lack of recognition for performance can cause a lack of involvement and even disengagement. You can greatly help your employees by encouraging them and showing them how to ask for positive feedback and recognition from their managers. They shouldn’t have to wait for their annual review to get positive feedback on the work they are doing. After all, you can’t be proud of yourself until somebody’s been proud of you.
9. Open your employees’ minds to the possibilities and reality of loving their work. Without a clear-cut understanding of what they have to do to advance or succeed, people quickly become de-motivated. Explain what’s required for your employees to move forward in the organization based on the company’s or department’s plans for the next one, three, and five years. Provide clear career paths to encourage employees to explore new career possibilities in-house so they can make a lateral shift within the company. A lateral move can help them enjoy their jobs and stay engaged. Help your employees discover new and exciting opportunities (new projects and new activities) that lie within their work that will bring them a greater sense of love for what they currently are doing.
10. Establish a mentoring or coaching program. Encourage your star employees to spend time mentoring other model co-workers who enjoy their jobs and are performing well. This allows your employees to observe, study, and shadow the person they most identify with so they begin to understand what they do that helps them enjoy their work so much. Designate senior employees who will act as impartial, unconditionally supportive guides who ask evocative questions to draw out your star’s wisdom.
In efforts to improve, most companies and individuals search for new idea and strategies. They seek out new marketing techniques, sales ideas, cost-cutting measures, and customer service enhancements, that these approaches will deliver better results.
However, the number one factor preventing individuals and entire companies from achieving what they are truly capable of is not a lack of knowledge, intellect, or information; it’s not some new strategy or idea; it’s not additional training; it’s not a large network of connected people; it’s not hard work, natural talent, or luck. All these do help, all play a part but they are not the things that make the difference.
You’ve heard the saying that knowledge is power . knowledge is only powerful if you use it, if you act on it. it benefits no one unless the person acquiring the knowledge does some thing with it. Great ideas are worthless unless they are implemented. The market place rewards only those ideas that get implemented. You can be smart; you can have access to lots of information and great ideas; you can be well-connected, work hard, and have lots of natural talent, but in the end, you have to execute.
The barrier standing between you and the lift you are capable of living is a lack of consistent execution. Effective execution will set you free; it is the path to accomplish the things you desire.
The Twelve Week Year
One thing that gets in the way of individuals and organizations effectively executing and achieving their best is the annual planning process. As strange as this may sound, annual goals and plans are often a barrier to high performance. This doesn’t mean annual goals and plans don’t have a positive impact. They do. There is no question you will do better with annual goals you will do better with annual goals and plans than without . However, this annual process inherently limits performance.
The trap is annualized thinking, at the heart of which is an unspoken belief that there is plenty of time in the year to make things happen. In January, December looks a long way off, because we mistakenly believe that there is plenty of time in the year, we act accordingly. We lack a sense of urgency, not realizing that every week is important, every day is important, every moment is important. Ultimately, effective execution happens daily and weekly.
Forget about a “year”, because we’re redefining it. A year is now a 12 weeks. That’s right: A year is now a 12 week period. There are no longer four periods in a year: That’s old thinking. Now, there is just a 12-week year, followed by the next 12-week year, ad infinitum. Each 12-week period stands on its own: it is your year.
Execution is the single greatest market differentiator. Great companies and successful individuals execute better that their competition.
The 12 Week Year creates a new endgame date, the point at which you assess your success (or lack thereof). It narrows your focus to the week and, more to the point, the day, which is when execution occurs. The 12 Week Year brings that reality front and centre. When you set your goals in the context of a 12-week year, you no longer have the luxury of putting off critical activities, thinking to yourself that there is plenty of time left in the year. Once 12 weeks becomes your year, then each week matters: each day matters: each moment matters.
The result is profound. Most people experience about a %30 improvement in goal achievement in their first 12 weeks when operating on the 12 Week Year platform. To achieve more in the next 12 seeks than most will in 12 months, simply follow these steps.
1. Set a 12-week goal
Start by establishing a 12-week goal. Annual goals are helpful but lack immediacy and urgency, whereas 12-week goals create focus and urgency.
Focus on what you want to make happen over the next 12-weeks. The goal should be an outcome-income, sales production, dollars saved, pounds lost-and represent significant progress towards your longer-term vision. Limit your goals to a maximum of three, and make certain each goal is specific and measurable.
2. Build a 12-week plan
12-week planning is much more effective than traditional planning because it is more predictable and focused. The key is less more. A 12-week plan embraces the notion “Let’s be great at a few things versus mediocre at many”.
For each goal, you need to identify tactics, the daily and weekly actions that drive its accomplishment. If the goal is the “where” then the tactics are the “how”. Again, less is more. Focus on the critical few. Identify the four or five actions you need to take daily and weekly to accomplish your goal. Those are your tactics.
3. Apply the weekly routine
Having a goal and a plan is helpful, but it’s not enough . The key to your success is executing your plan. To ensure you execute at a high level, adopt the weekly routine. If you do the following three things on a weekly basis you can’t help but get better.
Plan your week
Take a few minutes at the beginning of each week to plan your week. Use your 12-week plan to identify the tactics that are due this particular week. The weekly plan is not a glorified to-do list: rather, it reflects the critical strategic activity that needs to take place this week to achieve your 12-week goals.
Save your week
At the end of each week. score your execution. In the end, you have greater control over your actions than your outcomes. The most effective lead indicator you have is a measure of your execution. Your are scoring your execution, not your results. Calculate a weekly execution score by dividing the number of tactics completed by the number due.
Meet with a peer group
You are seven times more likely to be successful if you meet regularly with a group of your peers. Find two to three other people who are committed and willing to meet for 15 to 20 minutes each week. In your meeting, report on how you’re doing against your goals and how well you’re executing. Encourage and challenge one another.
That’s it-three simple steps. Plan your week, score your week, meet with a group of peers. How easy is that? Do them and you will improve-guaranteed. Here’s the catch: The steps are easy to do, and even easier not to do. Do make a commitment to engage with them for the next 12 weeks and watch what happens.
Most people want to progress in their work, and moving into management is a natural way of doing so. Some step into the new role and prosper. However, many struggle and become disillusioned, possibly stressed, and their performance dips: They’ve made the common mistakes of new managers. Here is how you can avoid making these mistakes.
MISTAKE 1: Not getting clarity on your role
Most people get a job description and may even have a quick chat with their new boss. Few, however take the time to get charity on their role. what the expectations are, and what key results are to be achieved.
SOLUTION: Make an appointment with your boos to be crystal clear on what they expect of you and what you should deliver to be successful in your new position.
MISTAKE 2: Holding onto old tasks
If you have been promoted internally within the same organization, this is a challenge. You may have been very good at certain tasks and really enjoyed some of them.
Be crystal clear on what your boss expects of you and what you should deliver to be successful in your new position.
SOLUTION: If these are not tasks on which your performance as a manager will be judged, pass them on to someone else.
MISTAKE 3: Trying to please everyone
As a manager, you have to make decisions: Some will be popular with everyone, some will be popular with some and unpopular with others, and some will be unpopular with everyone. Accept that your decisions will not be popular with everyone.
SOLUTION: Take what you believe is the right decision based on the facts and information available, not the one that will please everyone.
MISTAKE 4: Not Believing in yourself
We all have our doubts about our skills, knowledge, experience, and personal attributes, but we can choose whether we use them as an opportunity to shrink or grow. When people take up a role as a manager, self-doubt can get in the way of their success.
SOLUTION: Recognize that opportunities to grow always exist, and remember that those who appointed you believe in you, and so should you.
MISTAKE 5: Going for a home fun too quickly
You will probably want to make an impact as soon as you can. You may have had some thoughts or ideas about what you would do and how you would be different when you became a manager. It is easy to fall into the trap of going for a home run too quickly.
SOLUTION: Take it a step at a time. Make small change. As you achieve success, raise the bar and be more adventurous.
When people take up a role as a manager, self-doubt can get in the way of their success.
Someone see your potential to be a great manager. To become one, make sure to avoid making the common mistakes of new managers.