Do You Lead High Performers?

A highly effective leader knows and understands that to build a high performing team, you can’t focus on the product, you can’t focus on the competition, and you can’t focus on results. You MUST focus on the people.

How would you describe the atmosphere in your team right now? Is it positive? Is it negative? Do the team feel that you care for them? The reason I ask this is because when people leave a team or an organisation, the main reason is not because of the job.

1. Relationships

The main reason is because of the relationship they have with their boss. If the relationship is good, then they will tend to stay. If the relationship is bad, then they are more likely to leave. How is the relationship with your team?

If you think back to your career, if you have ever left a job, what was the reason you left that job? Was it because you didn’t like the job, or you didn’t have a good relationship with your boss?

I know for me, when I have left most jobs in the past, it was because of the relationship with my boss. Speaking with my friends and past colleagues, they left their jobs for the same reason too.

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In some of the teams I have led, I have had people leave because our relationship was breaking down. That was a failure on my part, but it was something I learned from, and I never let that happen again.

What I found that was even worse was a team member, or team members who disengaged with everything we were doing. They were part of the team physically, but mentally and emotionally they were somewhere else, and didn’t care.

So, they have quit the team, but stay anyway, because they were getting good money. It was my responsibility to deal with that, and the best way to deal with it was to remove them from the team. If I didn’t remove them then they would influence the rest of the team in a very negative way.

My leadership and integrity would also be under question. I couldn’t allow that to happen and removed them ASAP. Once they were out of the team, things improved.

2. Focus

Your best performing team members is who you need to focus on, but if you have team members who are contaminating the rest of the team, then you need to remove them. If you don’t remove them then your best performers will move on.

Other companies or departments would happily take them, and you cannot afford that. So you need to look within yourself, and decide how much you want to keep your best performers. What lengths will you go to, to ensure they stay?

I’ve worked with some really great performers in my career, but I’ve seen some of them reluctantly leave the team, and the company. I was actually one of them.

The reasons we wanted to leave this time was not solely due to the relationship with the boss, it was because we were working with team members who didn’t want to be there.

But, they wouldn’t leave. I found it amazing that they would want to continue being miserable in life, and drag everybody else down to be as miserable as they were. In the end, because our leaders wouldn’t remove these people from the team, we had no choice but to move on.

Making the decision to remove a team member from the team was very tough I found. However, it is something that has to be done.

Insecure leaders will not make this decision, and will allow the poor performers to remain in the team. What the insecure leader doesn’t know is that he/she is dragging the team down by not removing the poor performers.

When I was engineering technical manager for a London based train operating company, I had an issue. The team was very big, and there were a number of poor performers in the team. I allowed them to stay, and over time the team got worse.

My best performers were getting very upset, so the poor performers were removed. What I was upset about was, I should have dealt with it a lot earlier. This was something I learned from, and wouldn’t let happen again.

The reason insecure leaders do not deal with the low performers by removing them, is because of what comes after. They don’t want to go through the process of hiring new people, and interviewing.

They see this as an obstacle, rather than embracing it as a change, or an improvement. So, they choose the easy way out and let the low performers stay. That is how I saw it until I made that tough decision, and would never let that happen again.

3. Seeing An Opportunity

A highly effective leader will know very quickly who their low performers are. They will realise that if they cannot grow and develop them anymore, then they will remove them. A highly effective leader will see this as an opportunity to strengthen the team, by hiring a new team member.

By acting this way, the team will start to feel and perform better. Results will improve, and morale will be lifted. The leader’s influence will increase, and the team will increase their respect and trust in him/her.

While the team is one or two positions vacant, the existing team will not mind covering those vacancies. That will show that they respect what the leader has just done for them, by removing toxic people.

Then, when the new team member, or team members are recruited, the best performers will help bring them up to speed. They will lead this new change in the team, and increase their influence further. This will multiply the leader’s influence, and improve morale in the team even more.

At this stage in my life and career, and with the experiences I’ve had leading teams, I know that you need to focus on your best performers. Focus on them by being very deliberate with them. That is how you retain them.

The leadership principles that you are learning, if you apply them, then your best performers will not only stay, but they will thrive. By reading this post I know you want to create a high performing team. I know you want a team that values you as the leader.

I know you want a team that value each other. I know you want a team that work well together. I know you want a team that love working with the organisation. Your best performers will love increasing their influence, by helping the other team members.

They will love multiplying your influence. If you apply what you are learning, you will be on the right path to making this happen for your team.

4. Great Performers

An insecure leader will more than likely have a team of low performers, and the reason for that is because the insecure leader is a low performer too. To attract and retain good performers, you need to be a great performer.

Then you can develop your good performers into great performers. That is what a highly effective leader does. Is this you?

When you start to apply these leadership principles and you begin to improve as a leader, your team will begin to improve too. As this is happening, you will gain other followers from outside your team. You will begin to attract good performers who want to join you in the future.

Then, as you are growing and developing your team, your best performers will become leaders themselves. They will become good enough to take up your position. Or, they could take up another leadership position within the company.

If they do, then you must feel nothing but pride, and encourage them to move on. Only if that is what they want, and they are ready. If they do move on, you will have attracted other good performers to take their position. So, the recruitment process will become easier for you.

I’ve discussed earlier about my relationship with my engineering director when I worked in Liverpool, and how he put me through University, and developed me.

However, he didn’t just develop me, he developed almost everybody in the engineering department. He was creating leaders within his department.

He focussed on improving everyone’s environment and the facilities, then he deliberately focussed on improving us. He wanted to create leaders, so he would put his best performers through development training. Then he would give them opportunities to become stars.

When he focussed on his best performers and developed them, he would fill leadership positions with the same best performers. The great thing was, they already had the leadership training, and opportunities to practice before they took up the role.

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As for me, a leadership position became available in Scotland as an engineering production manager, and he encouraged me to take up that role.

The reason he did that was not to remove me from the team, it was because he knew it would be good for me. He did tell me the pride he felt in helping me get to this position, and I will never forget him for that.

He was a highly effective leader.

When you become a highly effective leader, you too will feel the same pride he, me and many other highly effective leaders feel when they help, grow and develop their teams.

A highly effective leader looks forward and pulls his team with him to the future. An insecure leader looks backwards and pushes his team from the past.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

10 thoughts on “Do You Lead High Performers?

  1. Hi Tom,

    Your article made me think about my last employment. My relationship with my boss and colleagues became worse, so I quit. It is so true that your relationship with your boss and colleagues plays an important role in deciding whether you change your job or not. Monday to Friday, we normally spend around 40 hours at the office, and it’s more than the time we share with our loved ones. If the time with your boss and colleagues is blue, I think it’s time for a change. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing,
    Matt

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thank you for sharing your experiences of your previous job, there will be so many people (including me) who can relate.

      I appreciate your thoughts, means the world.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Hi Tom, As a kind of one-man band In some ways I don’t feel this post is relevant to me but actually I do feel it should be. At some stage, I know – hopefully, sooner or later I know I will need to start delegating more and more. In fact, I think if someone actually wanted to become really rich like a multi-millionaire then I don’t think this could be done without recruitment ~ the saying springs to mind many hands make light work. However, as you point out in the article it is a lot more complex because whilst many hands might make light work it depends on the individual who you are delegating your tasks to. You must have the right tough but fair attitude I think.

    So some good points here. Thanks for sharing.

    Best regards;

    Alex

    1. Hi Alex,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I hope you do make it to a rich multi millionaire one day and stay in touch with me 😉

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. One thing I found in my professional career as a programmer was that the companies I worked for saw equipment as their real assets, not their employees. Those were considered unreliable, disposable and would join the company and leave at their whim.
    So, the companies didn’t invest in their real assets – their employees, their skills and accumulated knowledge. There was no leadership from the top and little between there and the employees themselves.
    The best leader I worked with started each day with a 5-minute stand-up meeting where each team member told the others what they’d achieved the previous day and, if they didn’t meet their goals, what they needed to sort out their issues. Then we’d each say what our goals for the current day was.
    There were no recriminations if tasks weren’t completed on schedule, only an analysis of why that happened and remedial action to try to make sure it didn’t happen again.
    That was in sharp contrast to the company “leaders” who would just tell staff to “get it done yesterday” without providing any resources or encouragement. Instead, they went out of their way to make people feel small and incompetent. They were all, to a man, lousy leaders.
    Having a real leader in a team is a luxury and make a huge difference to team morale and performance.

    1. Hi Gary,

      Your comments are always so thorough and detailed, I love them.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences in your career in similar situations. I hope the people who read your comment can relate to you and learn from your experiences too.

      Keep sharing your inspirational message with the world, my friend.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. This article offers valuable insights for leaders on how to effectively manage and lead high performers. You have emphasized the importance of clear communication, setting challenging goals, and providing opportunities for growth and development. The tips you have provided, such as offering autonomy and providing regular feedback, are practical and actionable. I particularly appreciate the emphasis on fostering a culture of accountability and ownership among team members. Overall, this article offers valuable strategies for leaders to effectively lead and manage high performers to achieve organizational success.

    1. Hi Femi,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, means a lot to me.

      I appreciate your kind words and I am pleased that this article is valuable to you. I hope you share this article with your people so they can receive the same value.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. We have been reading highly effective articles on leaders and the best. Do you lead high performers and we are still working on our skills when it comes to leading my team to victory and succeeding together.
    In this article you tell in detail on how to lead high performers and keep going. We are glad that we ran into this so that we can share it with everyone.

    Cheers,
    MnD

    1. Hi MnD,

      Thank you for your comment and sharing your thoughts on my post, it means so much.

      I am so pleased that you are glad you ran into my article and that you found it helpful. Please share what you learn with your people and encourage them to leave their thoughts on my article too.

      If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      All the best,

      Tom

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