A good friend of mine, Susan Lucia Annunzio – President and Chief Executive Officer of The Center for High Performance, based in Chicago – completed a global study of workforce performance and published her book Contagious Success.
This was ground-breaking research – Lucia and her team discovered that what drove high performance could be observed and quantified and spread through an organization.
The common element they discovered was the environment – not the leader!
The research didn’t find a “one size fits all” leader.” Leaders of high performing teams had different skills and different competencies.
What was common among the leaders was they had an intuitive sense of the environment that drove high-performance.
“Leadership is not what’s inside you or me… It’s in the environment the leader creates…”
When a high performing environment was found, the team was making money and driving innovation and the attributes of the environment could be taught and replicated. By the way, the same attributes were found in companies worldwide.
What can we learn from high performing teams – those that deliver sustained profitable growth – that we can spread across our own organisations?
To achieve sustained profitable growth, companies need to differentiate through new products, services, and markets.
In high performing teams that means having a very clear customer strategy including knowing who the target customer is, understanding what their target customers want from them and delivering against their customers’ expectations.
But that alone is not enough. The top reasons why strategy execution fails include inadequate resources, poorly communicated strategy, actions required not clearly defined and accountabilities for execution not clear.
In high performing teams, there are clear processes for strategy execution that aligns individual contribution to the overall strategy.
Processes that include strategic planning for aligning vision, purpose, values & goals. A team meeting rhythm for communication and focus. A performance development planning process to align individual goals and contributions to the business strategy and goals.
Furthermore, if you create a sound strategy and execute against it but don’t create an environment where people can do their best work, the likelihood of the strategy failing is high.
A high-performance environment where people feel valued, the leaders lead by example, values are used to make decisions and people are not afraid to take risks.
People need to feel that their work matters – whether they work on the assembly line or own the company.
If people believe they can make a difference, they will come. If they are given the opportunity to do their jobs well, they will stay.
Most importantly, if you build the right environment, they will perform.
Above a certain point – fair pay, good benefits & a safe place to work – people want to feel part of something bigger, a company with a great culture of connection, recognition and communication.
If a Business Owner or CEO isn’t deliberately creating that culture, they’re bound to fail.
So, for a team to deliver sustained profitable growth, three drivers are required:
- A clear customer strategy
- Business planning processes down to an individual level
- A high-performance environment that supports effective execution