If you do a search on leadership books in Amazon today, you’ll get over 60,000 hits. And there are millions more hits if you do the same search in Google.
We are totally obsessed with how to lead. And I get why.
Organisations are structured in hierarchical ways. People do well, they’re promoted, and go from being accountable for their own performance; to being accountable to the performance of others. Suddenly, knowing how to inspire high performance becomes very relevant.
The challenge that many leaders I work with face is time. They’re all time poor. And they think that in order to improve their team’s results; they need to invest more time with them. But the truth is – if you’re not using that time effectively – no increase in the number of hours you give your people is going to improve results.
The solution is not spending more time with your people. The solution is improving your effort to result ratio – improving the impact of your time on their performance. It’s about how you use the time you have. The most inspiring leaders are light touch, with big impact.
Hence the 60,000+ books on the topic.
Jim Collins defines leadership as “the art of getting people to do what has to be done”. I love this idea that leadership is artful. But it’s also a science.
I’ve studied, observed, and tested leadership models, theories and frameworks now for over 15 years. And I’m confident just three key behaviours cut through to the heart of leading high performance. I call it The Leadership System.
The Leadership System is a perpetual process of building capability in your people and inspiring high performance in the service of the organisation’s purpose. The system is a series of deceptively simple behavioural codes for unlocking performance through leadership. The only trick is mastering these codes as part of your leadership DNA and applying them consistently – and I mean, like daily.
The Leadership System
Means exactly that – setting and clearly communicating measurable benchmarks for performance that reflect the shared purpose and values of the organisation. High performing teams have high expectations – for themselves and others. But people can’t meet expectations if they are not clear or repeated often, like a mantra.
In high-performing teams, feedback is normalised as a behaviour that is essential to meeting agreed standards. Feedback is both given well and received well because it’s heavily weighted towards recognising positive effort and sharpening the application of strengths. When we normalise feedback, we create cultures where people are receptive to holding themselves and others accountable to results.
Coaches adopt an ‘ask, don’t tell’ mentality to activate the innate intelligence and creative problem-solving capabilities of their teams. They seek and appreciate individual strengths and put these strengths to work in helping them maintain their energy to achieve stretch goals.
At the intersections between these three core behaviours we are having powerful conversations:
When we set standards and give feedback, we are having performance conversations. We are objectively assessing whether people are meeting pre-set goals and standards.
When we give feedback and coach strengths, we are having development conversations. We identify the development actions that enable ongoing learning and development in the role and support sustained high performance
When we coach strengths and set standards – we are having behaviour conversations. We highlight the behaviours that align with our organisational values and support achievement of our performance standards.
When leaders continually set standards, normalise feedback, and coach strengths, they enable their people to quickly move through cycles of growth and amplify performance in a structured and supported way.
This is good for them and it’s good for the business.
If you want to improve your leadership effort to result ratio – ask me about my
Team Alchemy leadership program designed for leadership teams. Or look out for my book – arriving 30th October.