As we all know, in the world of elite performance results are everything. Performers are highly focused on winning and are usually very, very competitive in trying to achieve their goals. But to be successful they recognise they need to be fantastic at understanding and knowing how to win. While winning is their goal, their obsession is on the process and behaviours that will give them the greatest chance of winning. Given that behaviours are the result of mindset then this mental part becomes a highly relevant area.
If the right mindset and a focus on behaviour gives the greatest chance of consistently winning then this can be easily applied to the performance world of leaders in business. Loads of stuff is said and written about leaders’ ability to generate respect and have people follow them. But rather than thinking about leadership as a title, as a direction setting role or meaning that you have to be at the front with others following you, one of the most important parts of leadership is role-modeling the specific behaviours that you’re committed to and having them at the heart of your recipe for winning. Leadership behaviour at its best provides a consistent, visible reminder of ‘how we do things around here’, that can be seen and heard by the people in the business, the impact of which, because it is coming from a leader, is magnified.
Now apply that focus on behaviour to the role of a leadership team, perhaps the most important team in any business. If you want to have your organisation think, prepare and perform as one team, then leaders can absolutely lead by example in making this happen. One of the biggest hindrances to business performance (and we’re defining performance as doing what you need to do to get the results you want – performance isn’t the result) is the commonly encountered silo thinking and actions where each division, function or team is thinking ‘us first, organisation second’ and the enormous effort that everyone is putting in gets wasted because it isn’t working together.
In these or any other conditions one of the most important functions of a leadership team is to be united, collaborative, pulling in the same direction and seen to be so. Where this happens the message to the whole organisation is a very powerful one. Everyone can see and is thinking that the leadership team, or Board, is aligned behind a common goal and working together whatever it takes towards it – it is very clear we are all on the same team and not a bunch of competing internal functions. Imagine that – a Board or leadership team clearly working as one, in the best interest of customers, people and shareholders. Where Board members are seen to be both challenging and incredibly supportive of one another the signal to everyone in the business is to work in the same way. Whether you work in marketing, sales, operations or finance you need to work together to help achieve success for the business, just as you can very publicly see your various leaders or Directors doing through their words and actions.
A couple of examples of what this looks like are as follows. In the first a leader is having a conversation with a group or an individual and as the leader is talking they are picturing the rest of the leadership team standing behind them, nodding in agreement and approval at what is being said, how it is being said and the intent with which it is being said. In the second example, the leader is again addressing a group or individual and as they finish speaking the rest of the leadership team are waiting to high five them in solidarity and support, delighted that another ‘team first’ performance has been delivered.
We’ve seen this happen very recently with the UK Board of a large multinational business and the effect has been transformational in look, feel and results. The Board is together as one and people are seeing it and feeling it. They see Board members talking to one another, in huddles together, patting each other on the back and basically being a team and doing the things that teams do. It’s as if everyone has now got permission to be collaborative across the whole business and the feeling of connectedness and motivation is really increased. If employee engagement had been the purpose (which it wasn’t) then the Board have done a great job over the past couple of years in creating an environment where everyone can feel united. It’s such a fantastically simple and effective way of helping people to come together and we’ve been inspired by what they’ve done over this time when we’ve been working together. The behaviour hasn’t just happened by accident but as a result of some work and some conscious decision-making.
You get the behaviours within your organisation that your leadership deserves and nowhere does this apply more than with the behaviours of the leadership team as a team. That’s quite a responsibility to behave in the right way! So before you start thinking about how you can be a better leader to your people, take a look at how you are behaving as team member in your leadership team, towards your team and the signals your leadership team is sending out to those people who are wanting to be led by a united group that will bring success to everyone. After all, it’s all about winning, isn’t it?