1. Cultural Fit
Cultural fit is the element that holds an organization together. Before hiring a new team member, the leader needs to be able to define and articulate the organization’s culture, key values, long-term goals and practices. If you are recruiting someone from outside the organization, this becomes even more critical. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), poor cultural fit ends-up costing more than half of someone’s annual salary. However, defining the culture of an organization is not a small task. What if the company, business or leader requires a significant shift in culture? What if the old culture is not what the company needs to be successful in the future. What if the hiring team has a significant mandate for change management? Whatever the situation is, it is imperative that the culture is clearly articulated to the candidate so that you can identify critical characteristics that will mesh well with that culture and effectively assimilate the new team member.
To achieve peak performance and drive maximum results, a leader must strive to build diversity within their teams. A diverse, high performing team is characterized by open communication, constructive conflict, mutual respect, trust, collaboration, flexibility and willingness to renounce individual control to achieve greater collective results. Diversity obviously can take many forms, including gender, age, color, national origin, sexual orientation, work styles, experience, knowledge, abilities, skills, etc. The key is to look for these differences as you assemble the team and view them as assets rather than liabilities. The purpose of creating teams can be to solve problems, transform a business or evolve into a new business model. Whatever the purpose is, the leader must encourage and stimulate diversity of thoughts and perspectives to more quickly achieve desired results.
3. Clarity of Goals
What “exactly” do you want to achieve and by when? A goal that is not clearly defined will not be achieved. This statement sounds obvious, but the amount of energy wasted by individuals, business teams and corporations is enormous when the word “exactly” is ignored. Investing enough time early on to clearly define your goals is not only a must in business, but also in your life. The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are to do more of the things that are consistent with achieving them. Ensuring clarity of goals is essential to help everyone on your team be successful. So, define your team’s goals in great detail, make a timeline for achieving these goals, make them visible to all involved all the time, and finally, make sure there is mutual accountability amongst team members.
Recent research underscores how important the connections between vision, direction, strategy, goals and purpose are to an organization’s sustained performance. One study found, for example, that when people understand, are engaged and excited about the direction of the company, earnings margin is twice as likely to be above the median. But I wanted to take one step forward with the concept of alignment: aligning these goals with individuals’ personal motivations. This is much harder to do and it requires complete dedication from the leader to achieve a level of trust with his or her team members so that these personal motivations can be discussed with full transparency. Aligning business goals with each member’s roles and responsibilities within the team is the ultimate step towards achieving sustained engagement, which will lead to enduring success.
5. Regular feedback
Constantly giving and receiving high quality feedback is a great way to build trust. For many leaders, this can be one of the most stressful parts of the job. Yet, delivering performance feedback is crucial to developing a high performing team. There are countless examples of employees who are doing excellent work leaving companies for other jobs because they didn’t know how well they were doing! Had they known their work was being appreciated, maybe they wouldn’t have started looking for another job. Similar to the alignment with individual’s motivations, a leader needs to be prepared to adapt feedback style to individual team members. It is helpful to remember to use different approaches that better match an individual’s preference to receiving and giving feedback. This skill does not come naturally to many leaders; it needs to be practiced with persistence and patience, and possibly some coaching.
6. Keep promises
No matter how small, always keep your promises. No one trusts those who don’t keep their word. We have already discussed the importance of trust, so keep your promises and stick to your commitments. Trust leads to loyalty and loyalty leads to people giving their best efforts to deliver outstanding results for you and your organization. Some leaders, even with the best intentions, motivate others with false promises of promotions, personal success and a greater future, but rarely deliver on those promises. If you are doing that, you need to stop and reassess your leadership style and tactics. If you truly want to be successful in life and in business, keep your promises!
7. Do the right thing
“Doing the right thing” is the essence of ethics and integrity. It is what defines you as a person and as a leader. It is about right and wrong in human conduct. Ethics is about choices, dilemmas and “grey areas.” It explores the question of what we ought to do, rather than simply discuss what people could do or actually do. But if you rationalize questionable decisions by saying, “everyone does it,” you should reconsider. Leaders face this dilemma frequently, because in an imperfect world, there are a lot of not-so-good choices, and few good, clear and right ones. But leaders must decide. That is your job. In fact, you are being evaluated all the time by how you decide, by your bosses, by your peers, by your subordinates and by your loves ones and family. True leaders will not do the “wrong thing” just to be liked. So, when in doubt, follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”
After all, these seven vital tips are just a reminder of what you should be striving for every day as a high performance team leader. It’s about common sense and treating others as you would want to be treated. It’s that simple. Or is it difficult? The American scholar, Warren Bennis, once said: “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” _____________________________________________________________________________________
Alvaro Vaselli is a Senior Global Business Executive with a 20+ year record of driving profitable growth in multiple B2B industries. Most recently, he was President of the Personal Care Division of a $1B industry leader in the plastic films business. Alvaro’s roles have included general management, business development, sales and marketing. He has a strong International background and speaks Portuguese, English and Spanish. Learn more at www.linkedin.com/in/alvarovaselli, or contact Alvaro at 484-432-3437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.