We all want to be successful leaders.  Whether we are a veteran leader managing a large team, or just starting out as a leader, these are things we all can do to drive performance.

1. Don’t settle for average people or performance. Period.

It may be tempting to hire a warm body to fill a role or to settle for sub-par performance but don’t. When hiring, make sure you hire happy people who match your core values as a team. If they are working with you and not matching your values, correct the behavior immediately, and remove people from the team who exhibit ‘anti-core value’ behavior.  Mediocrity is the enemy. Tolerating it is the same as rewarding it.

2. Drive everything you do with a mission and purpose.

Purpose-driven work is the key to getting the extra effort from our teams. Every leader dreams of a team that consistently gives it their all. As leaders, we need to discover our purpose.  What is the greater good of what we are doing? Continually point out how your team’s work is benefitting other people and a higher purpose. Find ways for your team to help others inside and outside the company.

3. Think Excellence with every opportunity.

Excellence is a core value of any great team. Excellence is a competitive advantage and differentiator. Insist on excellence and nothing less from every team member at all times.  Recognize and reward excellence. Acknowledge, discuss and, if necessary, discipline less negative behavior.  When your team cuts corners, they are cutting their throats…and yours!

4. Convey Optimism while weaving in doses of Realism.

It is proven that optimistic people perform better, rebound more quickly from setbacks, and even live longer. Unrealistic and unbounded optimism can lead to problems. The leader’s job is to portray optimism while, at the same time, giving honest feedback. A leader’s job is to drive belief and anticipation while putting realistic boundaries on what can be achieved.

5. Build Trust through Transparency.

Trust is the foundation of any team. Without it a leader has nothing. A leader must build trust by showing vulnerability and transparency.  Team members must feel the leader has their back and trusts that even when being corrected or disciplined, the leader is doing what is right and best.  It all starts with the leader’s willingness to show trust. Trust has to be seen in order for it to show. Ask yourself, “Does my team trust me? Do they know my motives and thoughts? “

6. Develop personal relationships.

All leaders must develop close personal relationships with key team members and their significant others. Any leader that says he has to separate himself from his team is on the wrong track. Personal relationships drive behavior. Not only should the leader spend one-on-one time with key team members, a leader should get to know the spouse and vice versa. Spousal buy-in is critical to employee engagement.  Let people get to know you. Go out and have dinner and laughs, just don’t overindulge.

7. Get into “Flow.”

Experts agree a person is happier at work when they get into their flow. Flow is the feeling that work isn’t work.  Artists, scientists, and composers are known for losing hours, or days of time as they focus intently and blissfully on their work.  In order to feel flow and enjoyment in our work, we must feel that our work matches our abilities and interests. A leader’s job is to manage each person’s to their strengths and interests.

We all want to get the most out of our teams, but it is hard work.  It takes a plan and effort. Done correctly the results show and your productivity grows exponentially.

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