“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States of America
You as a leader need to convert potential into peak performance.
If a team follows a leader, who or what does a leader follow? A vision. The vision unites the team and attracts necessary resources to reach the dream. These could be time, money or support. Once the vision is in place the leader needs to attract, maintain and retain talent in order to achieve success. I believe that converting performance into peak performance is the heartbeat of a business and a prime responsibility of a leader. In my personal experience of building brands, if every individual is developed to their optimum potential, then the business simultaneously performs at its peak, and the results are ultimately realised in the bottom line.
The term “performance management” can be used to describe the processes that manage behaviour and results. It can focus on the performance of an organisation, a department, employee, or even the processes that produce results. I consider performance management to be simply that – managing, and improving performance, within a framework. When I asked leaders in interviews who in their organisation were responsible for performance management, most replied that they have a Human Resources Department or HR Manager. That indicated that they had entirely missed the point – that performance is the responsibility of the leader.
Performance management is utilised most often in the workplace, but can apply wherever people relate in groups with their environment to achieve specific targets. This includes schools, churches, community groups and business settings – all of which require leadership. Performance management should be strategic. It should be integrated into the workings of a business. It can be used to increase effectiveness, productivity and performance of individuals and, in doing so, it will improve the output of the group in terms of quality.
“Performance management includes activities which ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner. PM is also known as a process by which organisations align their resources, systems and employees to strategic objectives and priorities.” Wikipedia
WHERE DOES ONE START?
Ideally, getting individuals consciously to align their personal goals with the goals of the team is good performance management. This assists the effort of increasing productivity and ultimately profitability. It is ideal if the individual team members are self-propelled, but if not, the leader needs to direct the process with a stronger stance. The vision and mission statement of the individual must also align with that of the company, and its overall goals.
Performance can be described as actual versus desired results. If the results are less than anticipated, then improvement is needed. This can be achieved by putting a progress plan in place, outlining what goals need to be achieved, with what intervention (it could be coaching or skills development), followed by a performance appraisal. A leader should aim to negate performance problems and replace them with performance improvements, and then reward the improvement appropriately.
THE IMPACT OF A LEADER ON PERFORMANCE
In many hot debates between practitioners and researchers, the agreed conclusion is indisputably that leadership is important and that leaders make a meaningful contribution to overall organisational outcomes i.e. performance. It is thus essential that leaders should be able to understand and accurately monitor and measure their own performances as leaders . How? is the million dollar question. Here a 360 degree performance appraisal or competency assessment could prove its worth. One needs to look at the impact of the leader on each individual in the team (personal career success plus success in and to the organisation) as well as the identification and growth of future leaders.
WHAT IS PERSONAL BEST?
Leadership is about demonstrating authenticity and sincerity rather than having a position of power. Authentic leaders are true to themselves. They are one in language, body and emotion. They lead with purpose, focus and good intentions. They always aim at achieving their personal best. So what is your personal best? When do you consider yourself to be operating at peak performance?
Only once a leader is operating at their personal best can their team begin to achieve high performance. Leaders need to be supported by a high-level team of professionals who match their standards of excellence. Finding these professionals is not easy. Keeping them is harder. Maintaining their momentum, and yours, is the ultimate challenge. The magic lies in training and re-training your team so that you, and they, remain inspired.
Hire for aptitude, attitude, ability, intensity and integrity…plus passion.
Jenny Handley is a brand, leadership and high performance facilitator. Her latest book, Raise your Leaders™ is available as an in-house leadership academy for companies. www.jennyhandley.co.za For additional to-do’s and debates to have with your team, visit the Leadership website.
Published April 2014