7 essentials for teams to learn if they are to achieve high performance

In our firm, osullivanfield, we have the privilege of working with leadership teams over extended periods of time. Typically we are commissioned when the team is seeking to improve their collective leadership to enable a high performing organisation of which they they are in charge. Any leadership team that overtly says it wants a high performing culture requires the team members to grow and develop themselves as part of the collective development. This brings risk!

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How do leaders get the conversations out of their heads?

Last month I was meeting with my client James, an imposing Northern Irishman who is leading a sizable business with over $250m of revenue. We were exploring some of the most challenging issues he was currently experiencing. The most troubling were with 3 members of the executive team.

Upfront he told me he had experienced an intense month of conversations with three of his direct reports. Here is how our conversation went.

Me: How did the conversations go for you?

James: Not well

Me: How so? How did you handle the conversations?

Silence followed and then there was a sudden realisation of how he went…

James: “Shite!”1 (in a beautiful Belfast accent) “I did it again….!”

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How to help new leaders minimise their blind spots

“I had no idea!” Jason had just received some feedback from his team, four months after taking up the position as Director of their function. They told him of how he was hampering their efforts to achieve the targets set by the global office.

This is not an uncommon remark made by leaders in transition. For those who are open to learning, this new awareness is thankfully followed by

“How can I do that differently?”

The blind spot is a phenomenon we all share – the reality is that we are the only one who doesn’t know about it. It is difficult to do something differently if there is no awareness of the issue.

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Who’s your top three and how do they inspire your learning?

In many leadership development programs and one-on-one coaching sessions, participants are asked to think about an inspiring leader who they admire or want to emulate. Often the question is phrased as  “When you think of a successful leader, who do you think of…?”
Having been in many sessions where this question has been asked, I have recognised patterns in the answers. They include:

  • My parents/family member/significant teacher
  • My first boss/first person to give me a break/first mentor/first person to pity me/first person to sponsor me
  • Richard Branson/Steve Jobs/the Google guys/Elon Musk
  • Mandela/Gandhi/Mother Theresa and in recent times, Pope Francis
  • Individual sports stars who have ran very fast, jumped very high or passed the ball better than anyone else
  • Politicians… actually never come up for some reason
  • Bono… once… ok that was me who suggested him…

A few weeks ago I heard an answer that absolutely floored me. One that I had never heard before.
The answer forced me to rethink the question and answer completely.

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