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What do successful leaders focus on?

I recently worked with a newly formed leadership team to guide them through the process of determining their purpose, values and how to best utilise the strengths of the group to lead their own teams and perform well against their goals. With 10 months to achieve their goals in a high stress work environment, their manager asked:

What could help make this leadership team high performing and resilient? While there may not be a one-size fits all solution, evidence has shown leaders who focus on the following three actions, can boost their chances of leading effectively, attaining goals and building resilience to maintain a healthy level of stress management.

1. Find a friend and connect well

Newly formed teams should allocate time to get to know one another in order to better communicate, work well together and build trust. As a leadership team, your peers need to be your support team. Successful leaders seek help and advice from others and give back support to their colleagues. The Gallup Organisation studied more than 80,000 managers to determine the key dimensions of highly productive workgroups (those with high employee retention, customer metrics, productivity, and profitability). Their research showed one difference between high performing teams and mediocre ones was these groups had a best friend at work. When there is strong engagement in a team, the members feel their peers or team mates will help them during times of stress and challenge. Having best friends at work may assist with effective change adaptation. Connecting well with other people matters. Invest in connecting regularly as a group. Take time to listen, and focus on what’s important to them. Empathise, get curious, have fun and offer support to one other regularly.

2. Play to the strengths of the team

Authentic leaders know their strengths and those of their team and apply them in their daily work. Strengths are something you’re good at and enjoy and when you use them, you feel energised and achieve a lot. Leaders who play to their strengths are also less stressed, more confident, creative and more productive. Just like a great sports team, a leadership team requires a variety of strengths to perform well. During our coached strength session, this team identified their individual strengths and shared stories of where they used these strengths in the past weeks to achieve success. They then analysed the mix of strengths across the team and identified how each member of the team may best contribute to meet the two most critical team deliverables for the coming month. Sharing strengths enabled the team to understand each other better, build trust and communicate positively.

Teams who can identify and use their top strengths to their advantage can begin to benefit from increased engagement, reduced stress and enhanced wellbeing. Find out more information about two of the most recognised strengths assessment tools at VIA Institute on Character or Gallup Strengths Center or get coached by us on how to play to the strengths of your team for better performance.

3. Act out your values every day

Leaders who live their values at work, not only gain energy, but find greater purpose and meaning in their daily work and engage authentically with others.

In our workshop, the new leadership team identified and agreed the top four values they wished to be known for and guide their leadership decisions each day:

  • Acceptance of others

  • Love – care for others they lead

  • Courage – to speak out when the actions of others don’t align to the group values

  • Balance – achieve goals, build relationships, be of service to their group and stay healthy

Did I mention the newly formed leadership team I worked with last week were young adults about to commence their duties of responsibility as the Year 12 Senior School Leadership team representing a cohort of over 1500 students? Whilst the majority of my work is with corporate leaders, I believe these future leaders will use their strengths to best represent and care for the cohort they lead. If you want find more ways to focus on the positive or need help to identify, use and apply your strengths or those of your team, check out my workshop offerings or contact us at WellbeingWorks References: McQuaid, M. Your Strengths Blueprint: How to be Engaged, Energized, and Happy at Work. Michelle McQuaid Pty Ltd., 2014. Rath, Tom. StrengthsFinder 2.0. Simon and Schuster, 2007.

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