January 20, 2010
If you’ve ever been in a high performance team you’ll remember how it feels to be part of it. Feels pretty good doesn’t it? Especially when you remember the targets you hit, the awards and accolades you got and the excitement of having skilled and motivated people around you. Perhaps you are in a high performance team now?
The question is though – how do teams achieve high performance? It doesn’t happen automatically just because you have talented people in the team. It has to be shaped and lead in the right way to achieve these results. And when the team does achieve high performance there is the matter of keeping it there. People will get noticed and promoted so the team members will change. So how does a leader keep his team in shape?
The prime purpose of leaders is to develop their people to produce world class results, whatever market sector they are in? And leaders need to pay attention to developing themselves and their people to consistently thrive and grow during change, no matter what is thrown at them. This takes robustness and resilience, especially in times of crisis.
Knowing how to do this helps, and having a process to follow makes things much easier. As with any good engineering system if you do things in the right order, everything will fit, holding together in the strongest possible way.
Compare the process of leading and developing people with driving a car – and what we are talking here is a manual car with 4 gears. As with the car, the idea is to move your people into 4th gear as quickly and smoothly as possible, for optimum high performance. You get off to the best possible start by starting in first gear. If you start in 2nd things are a bit sluggish and slow. Trying to start in 3rd is extremely difficult and could actually cause damage.
Of course some ‘models’ allow you to move more quickly and smoothly through the gears than others. Your skill as a leader is knowing how to drive each ‘model’ for first class performance, beautifully and well and getting your whole team into 4th gear as quickly as you can. Beware, if you never move into 4th gear you are certainly mishandling things and will never know what your ‘car’ is capable of.
But what happens when you come to an obstacle or T junction? You need to change down through the gears and sometimes even stop. In such circumstances remaining resolutely in 4th gear will be extremely unhelpful. So it is vital that you move down and up through the gears as each situation demands, paying attention well and anticipating each gear change.
I’m sure you can think of many examples of when this process has worked well to produce a fantastic result and possibly even more examples of when it hasn’t. We would be delighted to hear your comments.