Three essential habits for high performing leadership teams

Performance is crucial for every team. It’s how we measure progress in the game of work. Obsessing about the scoreline is not how we improve the play. It’s only by improving our habits, relationships, and systems that we can generate better results in the long run. High performing teams master these three elements, plus three critical habits.

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The theme for next quarter’s Amplifiers™ is Leading Performance: High Performing Teams. When I ask leaders what makes a high performing team, they usually tag trust. Trust is a feature of high performing teams, but it’s a by-product, not a key driver.

For high performance, three elements shape outcomes:

  1. Relationships: appreciation elevates effort
  2. Systems: boundaries create clarity
  3. Habits: the right actions yield the greatest return.

In this article, we examine HABITS in greater detail. 

When it comes to habits, most teams fall into practices by default, often to their detriment. We need to craft habits deliberately.

Habits keep leadership effective, even under pressure.

The first habit is MEETING.

Meetings are the beating heart of high team performance. Yet too many leaders do not put enough thought and effort into shaping meetings that deliver outcomes.

The first rule of meetings is one purpose for one meeting. Do not try and jam too many outcomes into one meeting.

Before you gather, choose the purpose of your meeting:

  1. Divergent: generating ideas
  2. Convergent: making decisions
  3. Friction: troubleshooting issues
  4. Flow: celebrating successes.

Each of these meetings requires different facilitation strategies and brain focus. They also each generate different neurochemicals in the brain. By keeping them separate, you will be able to leverage the best of your people by harnessing one specific brain state at a time, without wearing them out.

Meetings are a habit because we need to do them regularly. We need to plan a regular pattern for each type of meeting, each with its own agenda. How often is subject to the requirements of each organisation. Just make sure that each type actually happens, no less than once per quarter.

Communication is a key leadership skill: how good is yours?

The second habit is COMMUNICATION.

I love Japanese food. Every time we enter a Japanese restaurant, the entire staff sing out, “Irasshaimase!”

It is pronounced: “ee-ra-shy-ma-say”

It more or less means, “Welcome, please come in.”

It’s a habit that reinforces the expectations of both parties, and sets the tone for the experience.

As leaders, we need regular communications habits. This is what we should be communicating regularly:

  1. Greetings: how we greet others sets the tone
  2. Gratitude: how we thank others builds rapport
  3. Progress: when we review how far we’ve come, we boost confidence
  4. Problems: when we showcase problems, we can find solutions
  5. Unknowns: when we share what we do not know, we stay humble and open to learning.

On the whole, leaders need to prioritise communication, especially when we think we’ve communicated enough. There’s no such thing as too much communication when it comes to leadership. People will always be happy to hear from us.

Reflection is a leadership framework we should never ignore.

The third habit is REFLECTION.

In reflection, we need to focus on the external world, as well as the internal world of our leadership.

In the external world, we review:

  • Goals
  • Results
  • Systems
  • Relationships
  • Habits.

These are the nuts and bolts of high performance.

In the internal world, we review:

  • Values: what we cherish is what we prioritise
  • Beliefs: what we believe drives decisions
  • Emotions: how we feel begets behaviour.

If we are going to expand perspective, the only way is to check how we are seeing. Much like cleaning the lenses of our glasses, we need to review the filters through which we are looking. Values, beliefs and emotions are the shades that colour our experience. Sometimes these are helpful, sometimes they are not. Only through reflection can we choose something better.

Which habits do you need to fine tune: meetings, communication, or reflection? Choose one and then experiment. Some action is better than none!

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Related Articles:

Leadership skills for dealing with change fatigue

Team development strategies to lift productivity

Three habits of boundless leadership

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