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Leadership Articles: TALKING LEADERSHIP

 

A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
March 2013   |   By Dan Gaynor

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Performance Matters

In one of my favourite workshops and keynotes entitled, "The Seven Most Important Leadership Choices" I include on the list the choice between confrontation and avoidance. This is among the key choices that distinguish team building leaders from the many mediocre managers. I have often observed that I enjoyed a successful leadership career in large part because I confronted issues I think many of my predecessors knew about but avoided. Effective transformational leaders accept that every performance tells a story that should be important to both the team and the individual performer. Strong performances should encourage successful team members and affirm their talents just as weak performances that do not improve should send warning signals.

The team:
In earlier articles I've written about something I call the corporate body. Corporate defined simply means to form one body of many members. So a corporate body, whether it is a small team or a large multi-national company, is nothing more and nothing less than its members. If one member gets stronger, the team is strengthened. If even one performs poorly, the entire team is weakened, at least somewhat. Great teams are built one member one performance at a time. This is one reason the most effective leaders make every performance count.

Poor performance also becomes a fairness issue when it is not confronted and remedied. Hard working and talented team members want everyone to earn their place. When a leader doesn't confront poor performance he allows a double standard that discourages the most valuable team members and he weakens his leadership position.

The individual:
So we see that strong leaders make sure everyone contributes. They also have an obligation to struggling team members. Avoiding a performance issue is to allow someone to fail continually, and continued failure is a deeply discouraging experience. When a team member is performing poorly and a leader's skillful feedback and coaching do not improve the situation it is often because the basic talent (that which we are born with) is not there. Years of experience has taught me that I do not have a talent for math or carpentry; trying to make me into a successful accountant or carpenter would be a miserable experience for everyone - and most of all me. We do not all have every talent, but we all have some talent. Often the first step to finding a satisfying and successful career is leaving the wrong career. Leaders who fail to confront performance leave people to languish in jobs they will never succeed with. They are not doing what is best for the people or the teams they lead.

Noticing performance also sends the clear message that the individual's work matters to you, and everyone wants to do work that matters to the boss. Show people their work matters and they are far more motivated to make sure they don't let you down.

The many individual performances that form every team's performance deserve a leader's fullest attention. The best respond with appropriate affirmation and correction, confronting poor performances with skill and sensitivity.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When you discover poor performance how are you likely to react, do you confront or avoid?
  2. Can you recall a time when you were in the wrong job? How did you feel about it?

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A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
March 2013   |   By Dan Gaynor

 

Has this article sparked some thinking?
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