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Attaining high performance through smart leadership



The phrase ”employees quit leaders not organization” is quite popular among HR professionals and it is not just an assumption. In 2005, Leigh Branham identified this issue by surveying 20,000 employees: leadership has a significant impact on staff retention.

Leaders not only influence how much time an employee spends in the organization, but also how well the individual performs. The human capital is a critical resource for an organization and can be transformed into a valuable competitive advantage. But how can leaders ensure that employees will perform at their best?

According to Liz Wiseman, President of Wiseman Group, by exploring the full capacity of each individual, a leader can double the performance of his team. Her book “Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter” brings to light how leaders can maximize the potential of people or diminish their capabilities and contributions. In this context, we can easily split leaders in 2 categories – leaders that act as capability multipliers and leaders who are diminishers.

However, in practice, most leaders are somewhere in between these two extremes. In our working routine, we may sometimes act as diminishes, even if we have the best intentions, as personal features are shaping without doubt our leadership style.

In her book, Liz Wiseman identified 6 common behaviours of leaders that have a negative impact on the team’s actual performance:

  1. “The Idea Guy” – this typology refers to the persons that try to stimulate creativity in a group by constantly presenting their ideas and end up overwhelming the team. Instead of making others more productive, the creativity bomber shuts down the ideas of the group.

Solution: Let others express their opinions first, let the team try to find the answer.

  1. “Always On” – leaders that are really energetic and believe that their active mood will turn on the entire team. This is true to a certain extent, as after a while people may feel tired and may need more space to share their opinions as well.

Solution: If you tend to speak or emphasize too much, it may be advisable to take a slower pace, avoid to over-contribute.

  1. “The Rescuer” – helping your team is important, but do not exaggerate. Sometimes it is advisable to let employees find the solutions by themselves, in this way an entire learning process takes place and it is much more efficient on the long terms than to provide them with the answer.

Solution: Wait for people to ask for your help and when they do, first ask how they would solve the situation, lead them to the answer.

  1. “The Pacesetter” – this leader is highly ambitious and sets high standards and pace. This can result in frustration among the team and they may become just spectators or quit trying to reach the performance standards required if they are not connected to reality.

Solution: Establish a standard level and a pace that the group can actually keep up with. Performance requirements should be ambitious, but not impossible to achieve for the timeframe considered. Try to create dynamics in the team, but avoid stressful situations. A dynamic working environment keeps employees focused, active and productive, while stress negatively impact performance.

  1. “The Rapid Responder” – the leader is always the first to react and wants everything to move fast. As a consequence, even if his team will keep up, the entire organization may not be able to adapt to such a rhythm.

Solution: Make a rule to wait a few hours before replying to emails or taking actions if there is no emergency to react. Give other the opportunity to analyze the situation as well.

  1. “The Optimist” – with the intention of building confidence within the team, this leader will be extremely optimistic. In some cases, people may feel like he is not being realistic by does not acknowledge the possibility of failure and they may wonder whether their struggle to succeed is appreciated.

Solution: Do not oversimplify everything and recognize when people are struggling and working hard. Acknowledge that what the team does is not easy, but emphasize your trust in their capability to succeed. Check your performance culture maturity level – use the tool provided by the GPA Unit – the performance culture audit.

All of these mistakes are connected to the personal characteristics of a leader that are reflected in the way he approaches the team. Being aware of them and how they impact employees gives the opportunity to temper our habits to ensure better performance.

Nowadays, addressing business challenges requires the exploration of each employee’s capabilities. Smart leadership attracts talent and retains it by providing space for people to express themselves and grow. It creates a challenging working place and gives ownership to people for their results.

Smart leaders are the ones who use their intelligence to make the best of their team’s capabilities. Smart leaders don’t want to be smartest person in the room, but to make the group feel smart. References:

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