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3 Significant Focus Areas to Boost Your Team Performance

Trust and leadership are inextricably linked. In both good and bad times, employees subconsciously evaluate their leaders to see that they are worthy of their trust.

According to a recent Deloitte Digital study, workers who trust their employers are 260% more motivated to work (and 50% less likely to leave). Not only that, trusted companies outperform their peers by up to 400% in terms of market value.

Employees want to see consistent action that leaders can be relied upon to do thing right thing. In other words, they will make fair, compassionate decisions that considers their position and supports their career (and personal) goals. Not only that, employees want to be trusted by their leaders.

This is where it gets tricky for many well-meaning leaders. Not all employees have the competence, character or consistency themselves to warrant your full trust.

Trust is reciprocal. Any relationship between one or more people is a social contract where both parties need to work at building trust with one another. Typically, this falls to the leader to be the emotionally responsible adult to ensure trust is embedded in all employee interactions. It's not easy and it doesn't happen by accident. You have to work at it.

Let's take a look at the three significant focus areas that a leader needs to target to ensure trust is an outcome in all of their interactions.

1. Leading Yourself

A study by Cornell University and Green Peak Partners wanted to uncover why 72 high performing CEOs running companies from $5 million to $50 billion were doing so well.

They initially thought the CEOs would be talented at planning, have loads of charisma or tonnes of grit. It turned out it was none of these things.

What these leaders had was self-awareness.

Leadership starts with knowing yourself. After all, you can't lead others, if you can't lead yourself. 

It involves working on your intrapersonal (“within the self”) skills. These are our internal abilities and behaviours that help us manage our emotions, cope with challenges, work within deadlines and learn new information. 

It involves being clear about who you are and how you authentically lead those successfully around you. 

As David Rooke and William Torbert mention in a popular Harvard Business Review article, "we've found that leaders who do undertake a voyage of personal understanding and development can transform not only their own capabilities, but also those of their companies."

A "voyage of personal understanding" isn't a quick process. It's not like you jump on a train from Melbourne and arrive in Sydney the next day and you know yourself.

Instead, it's more like deciding to trek up some steep mountains, walk through a desert, then a rainforest, visit a volcano and then go to a cliff above swirling water, while on foot with a heavy backpack. Hopefully, accompanied by a trusty guide who encourages you to navigate the highs and lows and understand why you do what you do.

Self-awareness requires work and commitment. And you're never done. It's a lifelong process. And it is the job of a great leader. It's also why so many successful leaders have a coach (just like athletes) to pull them through.

But you can start by unpacking a personality assessment, working out your strengths and weaknesses, understanding your values, purpose, what drives you and your triggers to achieving sustainable results.

2. Leading Your Reports

The second focus area for leaders is to lead your direct reports. 

Your leadership influence needs to be centred on helping each individual do the best work they can, so they add more value to the team and to their own careers. This requires investing time understanding each person individually so you can guide them effectively in their development. It involves building trust with each person, so you can more deeply connect them to team members to create a team that trusts one another.

You do this through focusing on the three pillars that I highlight in the Integrated Trust Building System: fostering safety, creating connection and stepping into a meaningful future.

It's about running better one-on-ones or weekly check-ins to empower your reports to think through solutions themselves, improve their work and interact well with their colleagues. It also means working on accountability (improving delegation), improving visibility in the workplace,  providing autonomy and excelling at communicating expectations and providing regular feedback. 

The Integrated Trust Building System

3. Leading your Team

ADPRI research found that workers who reported that they felt part of a team were not only 2.7 times as likely as others to be fully engaged, but also 3 times more likely to be highly resilient and twice as likely to report a strong sense of belonging to their organisation.

As Marcus Buckingham says, "Teams make a home for idiosyncrasy. In a team, each person’s unique loves and loathings can be combined with those of others to create something greater than any one person could achieve on their own."

Teams that accept people for who they are are not only good for people’s wellbeing, but the organisation’s wellbeing as well. A trusted leader realises that teams can help people feel better about themselves and can be used as a great motivator towards achieving better results.
A trusted leader never assumes teamwork will occur on its own. Instead, you need to actively promote and reward the benefits and value of shared responsibilities and outcomes, mutual support and information exchange.
Leading a team successfully requires shifting your team's mindset to be more achievement-oriented.
This means helping team members to understand their role, the team's purpose and the role of their peers. In other words, it requires fostering safety, increasing team connection and aligning to a positive future as a collective. 
Running better meetings, connecting people to the meaning of work and communicating a powerful vision all work towards creating the right team culture for high performance.

Stepping into being a Trusted Leader

Today, employees want trusted leaders more than ever before. 
The most important role of a leader is to ensure that all team members are high performers who do great work and challenge one another.
It all starts with leading yourself which enables you to more authentically lead your direct reports which in turn improves how you lead your team and bring everyone to work together.
If you want support in creating a team culture in which every team member is able to actualise his or her full potential for the benefit of all, then take a look at the Tribe of Trusted Leaders program. It's an immersive leadership journey that provides the learning, support and action you need. Limited time only.

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