Top performance leadershipThe problem for accidental leaders is that leadership can seem such a daunting challenge that they don’t know where to begin. I describe how leaders’ core responsibility is to oversee the delivery of top performance that is sustainable. There are three core stages that must be followed as a top performance leader; (i) start with perfect clarity on the performance aspired to and when, (ii) define and create the environment that will deliver the performance and in which people can thrive, and then (iii) lead accordingly. Worryingly, the TPC survey shows that many leaders are woefully lacking in the basics required to be a top performance leader. Nearly 70 per cent of the employees surveyed said their leader does not provide a clear picture of what top performance looks like. Two thirds of them said their leader does not plan how to deliver top performance that is sustainable. This is especially concerning because this is the very starting point! More than a third said their leader fails to create an environment where they and their colleagues can perform at their best. This data suggests that too many organisations are getting it horribly wrong in identifying and developing their leaders.
The need for real leadersTo achieve top performance, organisations should appoint and develop leaders who are driven by the appropriate ‘motives’ to lead. Again, the TPC survey reveals some disturbing findings:
- Half of the employees surveyed said their leaders ‘play it safe’;
- More than half say their leaders encourage conformity to tried and tested methods rather than challenging accepted ways of doing things;
- Two thirds said their leader does not make the necessary changes when top performance is not being delivered; and
- Nearly 40 per cent said their leaders are slow, or fail, to address underperformance.
1. Stop promoting people to leadership positions because they are good at what they do.Experience working in elite sport has taught me how the best football players, swimmers and rugby players, for example, seldom become great coaches. The best coaches I have worked with have not excelled in what they are coaching, and this is the case at the very highest level.
2. Put people in leadership positions who have the right ‘motives’ to be leadersSafe leaders will stifle your business; real leaders will energise and drive it forward.
3. Develop your leaders so that they:
- Are crystal clear about the performance they expect from their people;
- Create the conditions in which their people can thrive; and
- Have the adaptability and flexibility to lead the delivery of sustainable top performance.
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