How to Create High-Performing Leadership Teams

Posted on: 20 Sep 2018

When brilliant minds come together to drive progress, beautiful things can happen.

But not every team are the Beatles of business. You have to handpick gifted individuals who are exceptional at what they do and how they communicate to attain such glory.

Without experience of recruiting at this level and scale, formulating such a team can be a tough task.

We know this because we help businesses of all sizes forge high-performing leadership teams.

If you want to learn how to build such a tenacious troop internally or externally, read on.

Why We Need New Leaders

In this digital age, the way we do business is transforming as we speak. If we can’t keep up, we risk being left behind.

Recruiting new leaders is a smart strategy to stay ahead of the game. A group of passionate, trustworthy, exceptionally skilled and positive people can easily help you:

  • Spot new marketing opportunities
  • Grow your business internally
  • Venture into new markets
  • Enhance business technology and knowledge

You’re 1.9 times more likely to perform financially well when a high-performing leadership team is working towards a common vision, according to McKinsey & Company.

Martin Murphy, a highly-respected business coach based in Manchester, emphasises how, now more than ever, investing in people is essential:

“You’re going to see more and more high-performing teams made up of people who are given the opportunity to unleash their true potential. Leveraging creative brilliance with agile, creative and enterprising teams is the next competitive advantage in business.”

Top Tip: A leadership team should have representatives from each key business area. Such as marketers from Sales, lead accountants from Finance and head developers from Product Development. After all, they’re going to be devising an agile strategy for the entire business. One can’t do this without the other.

Can You Develop These Leaders Internally?

You don’t necessarily have to recruit leaders from outside the company. You might already have the right brains in the business.

If that’s true, you have access to extensive verifiable history instantly. And you won’t have to train them up on the business: they already know how the story goes and can start productive work immediately.

How to Hire From Within

To ensure your employees are aware of the vacancy, you should advertise it through internal channels (business email, direct mail, your website etc).

This will also help you spot who is leadership material by the way they react. Hint: these individuals don’t know how to say “no” to a new challenge. They will be passionate about proving themselves.

To create a candidate shortlist, sit down with your line managers or team leaders and discuss the applicants. So you can back your choices on their praises.

What Does it Take to Be a Leader?

For an exhaustive list on the characteristics of a leader, check out our recent blog. Putting it simply, your candidates should have these qualities:

  • Transparency
  • Positive energy
  • Inspirational behaviours
  • Results-orientated
  • Passion
  • Decisiveness
  • Kindness and understanding
  • Accountability

John Shinnick, managing director of entrepreneur coaching business, Shinnick Change, advises that we should remember the leaders from our pasts to help us identify new kingpins:

“Think back and remember the great leaders that you have worked with: straight away, you are guided to who they were. You didn’t work ‘for’ them, you worked ‘with’ them. Also, they were not necessarily the people at the top of the hierarchical tree.”

Leaders are phenomenal business people. Mainly because of their skills but also because of how personable they are. They are natural communicators and know how to inspire people into action. Sometimes, though, John explains that these skills may need to be developed:

“Do you have to be emotionally intelligent to become a leader? I think that we are all works-in-progress. Many of us have the latent or dormant abilities that will allow us to succeed but we need to identify the seeds and then nurture them.”

Be a Champion of Leadership

Martin Murphy highlights how selecting the right people is only half of the story. To get the most out of your leaders, you must create the right environment:

“Much like a farmer can’t make a fruit tree grow directly, you can’t demand your team become high performers and expect anything other than a confused look.

“As leader, you have to create the conditions which lead to peak performance and growth. It involves leveraging the full potential of people and engaging them in the unrelenting pursuit of excellence. It’s about aligning the team around a common mission. It’s about the team having the tools and training to experiment and adapt.”

Of course, if you don’t have the right people within the business, you need to consider looking outside.

Sourcing Leadership Material

Your job advert for a leadership role needs to be compelling enough to turn heads. Because the best candidates will be very picky. Perhaps a new role isn’t even on their radar: they are already in a senior position and aren’t actively looking for jobs.

If your online vacancy isn’t attractive or well-thought-out, you could lose them to a competitor or fail to capture their attention.

Inspire them with your vision – use language that evokes feelings of excitement and hope for the future. And ensure your advert advocates the position accurately – what you say is what they’ll experience. But what exactly do leaders want?

According to a survey by Russell Reynolds, the top five motivators are:

  • A challenging and interesting role
  • More authority
  • Greater autonomy
  • Better compensation

You might be on the business’ end. But these candidates will be interviewing you! So you have to consider what makes the role so attractive. Will the successful candidate have more power? An awesome product to work with? Creative control over a team?

Consider using equity as a powerful incentive. Read our latest blog to learn how.

Top Tip: When in doubt over salaries, choose to overpay. There’s little demotivating than a decrease in pay for someone with buckets of talent and experience.

Diversity Equals Innovation

For a high-performing leadership team, studies suggest that diversity it essential for innovation.

For example, BCG recently surveyed employees from over 1,700 companies in eight countries. This is what they discovered:

“There is a strong and statistically significant correlation between the diversity of management teams and overall innovation.

“Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19 percent higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity.”

If this is true, companies that change the makeup of their senior teams (in terms of gender, age, nationality, industry background etc) may reap the benefits of innovative, game-changing ideas that can help the business stay ahead of the curve.

Something to consider if you’re looking to build the most high-performing leadership team.

A Final Piece of Advice

Dynamite leadership teams don’t happen by chance. Dave Harrison, managing director of CO-Creation, sums this up perfectly:

“They are an outcome of good planning and ensuring that the team engages in the right behaviours, developing productive ‘habits’.

“To do this effectively, teams need to agree their purpose. They need to understand their individual and collective strengths, skills, risks and objectives.

“Then they need to review and learn by setting aside time to review and learn from challenges and setbacks, as well as from success along the way. That way, the team can hone its approach, changing the mix of tasks, roles and required behaviours as needed.”

We hope this article has answered some of your questions regarding orchestrating a top-shelf leadership team. If you do need any further advice, drop us a line on 0161 359 3789 (Manchester) or 0207 871 7665 (London) – we’d love to help.

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