7 Steps To Lead Your People To Higher Performance

Leading people


In the words of Dr John Marrin, “Leadership is common sense; but unfortunately not always common practice.” Well, good leadership shouldn’t be that scarce because anyone can learn to be a good leader.

From my experience (I began my professional career from the lowest rung of the corporate ladder, rising through layers and working with numerous managers, team-leads and supervisors, and observing the effects of their leadership styles on their people), I find that great leaders have a way of leading their teams to peak performance; and the good news is that you too can be the next great leader who will lead his or her people to greater heights.

Below are some simple actionable steps to lead your people to higher performance levels:

1. Be a great role model


Everyone has someone they look up to, someone they admire and wish to be like. As a manager, you also exhibit considerable influence on your staff. Your team members talk about you -- they talk about your skills, your attitude and behaviours. But the main issue here is: are those things they know and talk about you worthy of emulation? Are they positive or negative things?

I have seen managers with great skills who failed woefully at managing people because their bad attitudes made their staff to resent them.

Try to develop a great brand for yourself as a leader. Work at developing your skill sets. Showcase acceptable behavioural patterns. No one will admire a drunk, a drug-addict, a rapist, a con-artist or an ex-convict as a leader.

You can easily succeed if you’re known by noble characteristics.

2. Set (and show by example) high-standards for your team to follow


You cannot lead people to higher performance without clearly setting the standard of work expected of each and every member of the group.

You are responsible, as your group’s standard-bearer, for setting the standard of actions, behaviours and attitude for your team. You should also reinforce those standards by your own example – your actions, work ethics and behaviours should reflect the exact standards of performance you want from your followers.

When you show them examples of what to do, how to do it and the behavioural patterns to follow, then they will follow and copy you.

3. Avoid (and don’t create room for) double standards


It is one thing to set high standards even by your own examples; and it is a completely different ball game to stick to those standards only. You don’t expect your followers to consistently maintain high standards when you (the leader) plays double standards; that is, you allow high standards sometimes and other times, low standards. You accept discipline and indiscipline, dedication and apathy. You are not consistent on what is acceptable.

You don’t checkmate poor attitude and low performance. You allow people to fall below your standard without taking necessary corrective actions just because they are close pals or talented members of your team.

Such leadership behaviour will hurt your team’s performance.

4. Watch out for signs of failure or problems and take immediate corrective actions


This simply means to take proactive measures to prevent things from going wrong, rather than taking reactive steps after things have gone wrong.

You should anticipate and watch out for issues that may arise within your team and be quick to address it before it occurs. For instance, if you notice a member’s attitude to work has changed, be quick to find out why (and help him/her correct it) before it gets out of hand and even affects others.

Another example is to take speedy action to address a brewing issue of disaffection amongst your team. Be quick also to review any policy or procedure that may cause problem in the long run.

Always be proactive to discover signs of failures or problems; it will keep you on top of your game as a leader.

5. Engage and provide needed direction and mentorship to underperformers


As a leader, you’ll find that in your team, there may be those who perform somewhat below the average team’s standard – it may be that they are slower than others in service delivery, or that they possess lower skills in some important areas.

Whatever be the case, it’s your responsibility to engage such people in a way that will help them raise their game. As much as possible, mentor them and encourage them to show more commitment to your goals. Provide needed assistance, where possible, like training opportunities to up their skills.

One thing you must know: the high-flyers in your team may become affected and even demotivated by the way you treat the underperformers, if you treat them badly.

6. Coach your team to take ownership and become committed to the ultimate goal


Many times, people basically work for their boss or manager (or as instructed by their boss or manager without any iota of personal initiative). They don’t take their jobs as personal roles. More often than not, this is caused by the kind of leadership they have.

As a leader, try to coach your team to take ownership of their job functions and become committed to the ultimate goal. When you don’t recognize and reward people’s initiative in achieving your goals, the tendency is that eventually they will just work with you and not show real commitment to the ultimate goals.

Encourage them to take ownership of their jobs and be sure to reward them for it.

7. Reward high-achievers with sub-leadership roles


One of the ways to create healthy competition among your followers, which will help them push harder to achieve your stated goals, is to make sure you reward the high-achievers. The reward shouldn’t just be limited to pecuniary gains or similar perks.

Think about making that high-achiever a team lead, or a sub-coach under you to help coach others. Give him or her some decision making authority to guide and influence others. This is by far a greater form of motivation. It will make others want to work harder.

One thing that kills people’s morale is non-recognition for job well-done, and lack of growth within a system.

Start Now!

You can start right here and now to lead your team towards greater and higher performance. Thank you.


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