One of the most exciting aspects of leadership is being able to take a group of people from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ in a way that they likely could not have gotten on their own. That, by definition, is a coach. I want you to see yourself in that light – as the head coach of your team.
One of the most exciting aspects of leadership is being able to take a group of people from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ in a way that they likely could not have gotten on their own. That, by definition, is a coach. I want you to see yourself in that light – as the head coach of your team. You will be responsible for assembling everything from how the team goes about engaging with each other, how you hold a premium to the commitments of accountability, allocation of resources, allowing certain teammates to shine in certain circumstances, as well as taking all the blame when the team misses the mark, and delivering all the credit to the team when it succeeds.
As the head coach, you must possess an array of skills to manage the team toward peak performance. You must know when to accelerate the pace of the work with deadlines and expectations. Other times you will have to be a psychologist and get into the minds of your team. You’ll have to be the cheerleader to inspire and motivate, as well as the person who challenges the team to be more and give more to and for each other. It sounds exhausting, and it is. The head coach wears many hats, and never gets a day off, which is why being the head coach can be equally stressful yet simultaneously seductive and rewarding.
If you have ever had the opportunity to speak with a head coach who actually coaches a sports team, they will tell you that the ‘highs-of-the-highs’ never match the low-of-the-lows.’ I believe that part of the reason for that emotion is a driven desire for continuous and never-ending improvement.
The chance to build and lead high-performing teams is the chance to exercise your capacity and the incredible influence that your leadership has upon those around you. How, in an instant, you can take someone who is at a certain level and immediately elevate them to think, act, and believe in themselves and the mission of the day in ways that they never had before. Conversely, I want to remind you that for as much good you can do, you are equally capable of sending your team in a spiral of dysfunction simply by your attitude towards them, your lack of organization, or an unclear mission.
Leadership is one of those mystical attributes that humans can possess – you can see it and feel it when it’s there and when it’s absent. Your ability to consistently deliver upon those moments when leadership is needed, and it’s needed now more than ever, is the challenge. For some of us, it can be daunting, while at other times, it seems like you are just in a state of ‘flow’ – where everything you touch turns to gold. The mystical part is to try to be accurate more than you are inaccurate, responsive more than reactive, innovative more than complacent, and creative more than mundane. And do it every day. In the words of a former coach and mentor, George Raveling, the secret is to “Do what you’re supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, as well as you can do it, and do it that way every time.”
Here are a few helpful hints for building and leading your team toward peak performance:
1. Set the Mission
As the leader, you are responsible for communicating the expectations and the mission. If there is confusion or people are wondering what to do, that falls on you to correct. Your team will only look where you look. So teach them what they need to focus on and give them the resources to achieve the mission.
2. Embrace Courage
Every failure in leadership is due to a lack of courage. There will be moments in your leadership life where your courage is tested, and it is in those moments that your ability to lead will be defined. Be courageous and lean into the moment. Don’t go into a bunker and hide.
3. Deploy your Resources and Become Resourceful
The best chance that your team has at hitting their stride toward peak performance is to ensure that they have the resources to do so. Deploy those resources to where it makes sense for you, and if you get the impression that resources are running short, become resourceful. Even in the most challenging of circumstances, when your back is up against the wall, having a skill-set of resourcefulness will help you get out of that situation. Get creative, innovative, and resourceful.
4. Increase Expectations & Accountability at the Same Time
One way to add negative stress to your team is to change the rules of the game and expect similar results. Change is part of everyday life – especially at work. So, if the game has to change, convey what they will be held accountable for at the same time. Don’t allow ambiguity to creep into the mix.
5. Reinforce Confidence
Each of us has different thresholds of self-confidence in our abilities. The greatest of leaders see the potential in each individual and see that person achieving far more than what they even imagined. By taking time to reinforce confidence and belief, the leader demonstrates a commitment to continuous and never-ending improvement. Strive for excellence and progress, not perfection.
If you’d like to learn more about what it will take to get you and your team to the next level, navigate over to our E-Learning platform and take the course, Building & Leading High-Performing Teams. You’ll get a vast array of tools and strategies, as well as learn how to deliver for yourself and your team consistently. Best of luck, and as always, live and lead with purpose & passion!