“Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations”
– Earl Nightingale
Over the years, I have worked with and for many great leaders who delivered consistent and outstanding results, year after year. They continued to achieve outstanding business growth, and their people were engaged and constantly improving in line with the business. And by contrast, I have also worked for and with leaders who had the best of intentions, were focussed on their people, however, despite this, were unable to ‘crack the success code’. When things went wrong and they were confronted with challenges and obstacles, they would often look at ‘what’ they and the team were doing, they would question & many times criticise their people, which often led to performance management discussions, and ultimately, high staff turnover.
In observing this behaviour, I learned that, despite their best intentions, these leaders were actually focussed on the wrong area and no matter how many new people they would bring into the team, very little would change. They were placing all of their emphasis on the people and what the people were either doing or not doing, which was very noble of them, however, it was a brilliant lesson in why the environment that is created and maintained by the leader is critical to the success of the team, and ultimately the leader. Now, you may be thinking that in order to be successful, it is essential to have the right people on the team, and this is correct – however, when the right environment is created first, great people are attracted to it. And this is why the environment that you, as a leader, create, is critical to your success.
Here are 5 essential components that when you invest in them, will assist you in creating an environment for sustainable success :
- Vision & mission – one of the very first areas you must focus on as a leader is the team vision and mission. Why does the team exist; why are they there, and what is it that the team is ultimately seeking to achieve? Be absolutely crystal clear on this and ensure that you invest the appropriate amount of time upfront to gain this clarity – it is fundamental to your success, and to the success of your people.
- Values – underpinning the vision and mission of the team, are the core set of principles or values that will form the foundation of everything that you do moving forward. What do you stand for as a team? Whilst many teams establish a set of values, laminate them and stick them to the office walls for all to see, very few teams actually take those values, internalise them, and have them be the guiding light on every conversation and interaction with peers, customers, suppliers and key stakeholders. Invest the time to develop a set of 5 core values, and then ensure that your behaviour and everything you do, is underpinned with these values. Remember, your team will be the mirror image of you.
- Crystal Clear Expectations – having developed your vision, mission and core set of values, now establish a crystal clear set of expectations of yourself, your team, your key stakeholders, as well as your customers. And please ensure that you are consistent and ruthless in the articulation of and measurement of these expectations – to do otherwise will compromise the environment you are creating.
- High Quality Standards – now having set clear expectations, it is critical to establish and implement high quality standards for yourself and the team. These need to be linked to and be consistent with the expectations you have set – the standards will be the patterns of behaviour that you will uphold all the time, without question. In setting these standards, make them uncompromising and ensure that they are sustainable, replicable and non-negotiable. Anything less will potentially fracture the environment you are creating.
- Team Goals – whilst the team will have a set of kpi’s handed to them from the organisation, it is also important to set separate goals for the team, that will not only enable them to achieve the company kpi’s, but will also align with the specific team vision, mission, values and standards that you have established. This can add a ‘bit of spice’ to the team, and a level of ‘individuality’ that contributes to a successful environment.
As a leader, invest time upfront in these 5 components, and watch what will happen – you will develop an environment where the team is on the ‘same page’, moving in the same direction, and you will also be in a very strong position to better identify talented people to bring into the environment, who meet your criteria. And the result? You will have established a high performing culture that people want to be part of, and your results will be more consistent, not to mention, sustainable. And that is why the environment you set up is critical to your leadership success.
Go get ‘em!
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Darren is a Sales Leadership and Sales Performance Coach, Facilitator & Speaker. He is an experienced and committed coach with a background of sales leadership success in large organisations. He applies a genuine focus to coaching and developing high performing sales leaders who are looking to unleash the potential of themselves and their teams.