As a senior business leader, you think about whether you are getting the best from your managers and their teams. Is their performance good enough to achieve the longer-term strategic objectives facing the organization? How motivated are they to overcome gaps in delivery? Are they growing and thriving in ways that will give you a competitive edge? What ways can you motivate teams and keep your entire workforce energized to meet even more demands?
Investment in these two critical leadership skills may be the answer:
- The skill to lead a team to achieve high performance.
- The skill to develop individual talent through coaching and performance goals.
A highly motivated team is one that demonstrates collective commitment to its shared goals, is exceedingly productive and fundamentally self-managing. This level of performance is achieved by knowing how to help a team through its stages of development, and how to modulate your leadership style at each stage. One of the most popular models of team development is the Tuckman model and it describes these stages of forming, storming, norming and performing.
- In the forming stage a team needs direction in order to minimize uncertainty and a structure to help clarify goals, roles and responsibilities.
- As team members gain clarity and begin to work together, they may start to experience storming. This is when struggles emerge over tasks, personalities or competing expectations. At this point the team needs strong and impartial guidance to help it address and resolve conflict. This is a critical stage to get the team to build trust by creating a safe place to speak up, a willingness to accept diverse viewpoints and recognize what’s best for the larger purpose.
- As trust builds, the team can focus in earnest on the tasks at hand, and as it defines what progress looks like, its leader needs to focus more on removing roadblocks that impact the team’s performance as a whole. This is the norming stage when the focus shifts to delivering on the larger purpose.
- A performing team is one that has shifted into high gear by adopting a clarity of purpose, a high regard for all contributions, a willingness to enable, and a way to deal with conflict that ends up producing better results. At this point, team motivation is achieved by being as self-sufficient as possible. Team leads are most effective by helping to maintain visibility of the team’s success.
Teams can certainly energize the overall workforce, but so can individual contributors, and highly motivated individual contributors are great teammates. Teaching your top management talent how to bring out the best in people they hire is largely dependent on knowing how to develop individual talent through coaching and performance goals. And one of the things coaches do is motivate people to stretch beyond their comfort zones. In his book, “Courage Goes to Work”, Bill Treasurer talks about developing your staff by helping to fill their three buckets of courage:
- The try bucket – the courage of first attempts (having initiative)
- The trust bucket – the courage of relying on the actions of others (being receptive and open)
- The tell bucket – the courage of conviction (truth telling with confidence)
Managers/coaches know how to jump first and be an example, create safety nets for first attempts, make room for stretch goals and adjust the degree of comfort or discomfort to nudge people in the right directions.
High-performing teams plus motivated individuals makes a great recipe for an energized workforce!