There’s a cloud over many businesses at the moment, fogging up the vision and distorting the focus. If you want your business to out-perform the market, then you have to be better than the market. That means good enough is not enough and peace-keeping does not reduce toxicity nor eliminate internal politics. You are setting the behavioural standards that you are willing to accept, so naturally, the first step in moving towards a sustainable, high performance culture must be you. Start by changing how you lead your teams to improve your competitive performance. It’s time to stop blaming external forces and take responsibility for accepting low standards.
As a leader, get over wanting to be liked. The pressure to get your senior team on board with your ideas and direction means you are constantly negotiating within yourself on the best way to manage others. A surprising number of C-Suite leaders are very easily swayed by their direct reports in an attempt to become more popular. Unfortunately, this causes more disharmony and conflict than a positive team culture. Practice the art of quiet observation and be mindful over your instinct to want to feel included in the team. Address difficult emotions through external coaching. Examine ways to strengthen your personal resources so that your ability to make good business decisions is not affected by underlying emotional insecurities.
Stop doing things yourself and hold your team accountable. It’s too easy to do things yourself, especially when you have the answer. Change how you manage and stop accepting low quality work. Invest in developing your team and start getting specific about project management and deliverables. Adopting a process-approach helps to identify weak areas for improvement and helps keep conversations objective and future-focused. Develop the habit of discussing projects in the early planning stages and not half-way through implementation. This alone will increase team motivation and engagement while reduce cost from wasted time and expenses. It also gives you the space and opportunity to review strategic thinking then develop and inspire for improvement.
Get focused on your goals and cascade effectively. Have absolute clarity of your goal and what you want from your teams. Ensure complete alignment creates an efficiency of strategic thinking and problem solving within the business. Everyone in the business should know what the business needs to achieve and how their role contributes to the overall performance. Everything else is wasted energy and should be identified and stopped. Understanding what not to do is a valuable and knowing what to focus on. Be purposeful and never do anything for sake of it. Many businesses adopt a scattergun approach to areas that they have no internal knowledge and skill with. Invest in hiring specialists and develop methods of evaluating focused plans and activities that are well-formed and executed. There are no secrets in business. Find experts that work transparently and can help the team improve their overall performance.
Never forget your customer value and sharpen your focus. Whether B2B or B2C, your customer strategies need to deliver emotional value in order to bring you monetary value. If that statement doesn’t hold true to your business or your role, it means you are currently overlooking the most valuable part of your business strategy and revenue potential. Emotional reasons why specific customers choose you are critical to delivering your value proposition across your functional strategic projects. Most businesses believe that they appeal to a far wider customer base than they do. Getting focused on exactly who your brand appeals to and why, will help you build loyalty and defend your position in the market.
It’s so easy to be critical of your teams and it takes a lot of courage, self-awareness and self-management to take responsibility for your own emotions, behaviours and actions. The ability to perform, or outperform, your competition is an indication of where energy and focus are getting directed inside the business. Negative behaviour is simply a reflection of wasted effort and energy which should be redirected more productively towards achieving performance goals. Apply the same rules to yourself that you expect from others and start building a more constructive company culture.