How can leaders promote a culture of best performance in their environment? How can executives create an atmosphere in which “passion for performance” is the basis for success?
The Munich Leadership Group has developed a pragmatic model, based on neuroscientific knowledge and the expertise from more than 20 years of work with leaders from different corporate cultures and countries. From a management perspective, there are six forces that influence passionate work of the employees.
The Best Performance Team Index (BPTI) measures a team's performance using the following six drivers.
Enthusiasm for achievement is created through the cooperation of individuals who are motivated to achieve meaningful goals and at the same time respect and support each other. The art of leadership lies in creating a work environment that enables best performance.
Employees need to know the status of the company or project and in which direction it should develop to perform best. Imagine a soccer game 20 minutes before the final whistle - and none of the players on your team knows the current score. What would the players do: defend, attack, or play for time? You would probably observe all of these behaviors at the same time, which would result in a disaster for the team performance.
Leaders must know and understand the desired outcome and direction in which the company or project should develop and be able to explain it to their teams. It is also their job to translate this into inspirational and motivational behaviors that provide guidance for the team.
However, “Giving Orientation” refers not only to these superordinate topics, but also to everyday behavior. For example, when insecure employees approach their leader with an apparently "stupid" question, they are looking for help - not sarcasm or harsh comments such as "do you expect me to do your job?" Leaders who successfully create an atmosphere for best performance are empathetic and supportive. They never give their employees the feeling that they are superior.
Instead, they share ideas to support their employees’ success on request. They are always open to questions and problems from their teams and find ways to develop new, inspiring ideas that are pointing the way forward. A company or project in which orientation is provided ensures and promotes a high degree of clarity.
"Lost in the Matrix" is a cynical expression of executives who try to manage processes and responsibilities across business lines, functions and national borders. We met executives from Fortune 500 companies who were unable to tell us what their specific role was within the project they were working on. We met people in meetings who didn't know why they were invited to the meeting.
The more complex the world of organizations becomes, the more important it will be to focus on the essential things. In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about how to manage complexity. But this approach is not radical enough to create a best performing organization or project team. Imagine you are offered 15 different types of mineral water at a meeting - and to make sure you choose the “right one”, each type is described in detail. Isn't it very likely that you will give up after listening to the fifth option - and order a simple cup of coffee instead?
Best performing organizations and project teams understand how to reduce complexity. Their leaders think and behave accordingly. They don't see it as their job to overwhelm their employees with as many options as possible. They do the opposite and sensibly reduce the possible alternatives. They focus on the essentials and prevent unnecessary distraction. Executives who are passionate about reducing complexity know how difficult it is to throw off ballast and understand this as one of their main tasks. By using resources wisely, they increase the efficiency of their teams or even the entire organization.
During a conference for high potentials from one of our international customers, the HR manager asked the younger participants about their understanding of the "most important skill expected from a leader". After sharing some general assumptions such as "innovative" and "teamwork", he shared a surprising discovery. Through extensive research he and his team had done, they found that "Making Decisions" was the biggest challenge in their company. He was able to show that decisions that were not made would cost more than wrong decisions.
There are two main reasons for not making decisions but postponing them: hesitation due to a perceived lack of information and / or the existence of two or more parties with (very) different views on the situation. In the first case, managers are often unsure of how much information they need. Instead of relying on their experience, they are often forced to justify every aspect of their decision. They must explain why they chose this and not one or the other possible alternative. To a certain extent, this is a good idea as it is intended to create transparency.
However, careful consideration must be given to whether too much valuable time is being sacrificed by exaggerated claims to justification. The requirement for reliable information is reasonable in spite of risk management. But this often takes on negative proportions when the meaning and nature of intuition are misunderstood. A ski-sport champion will perform excellently if he is absolutely focused - however, in most cases he will not be able to rationally explain why he performs certain coordinated movements in extreme situations, especially not towards to a beginner.
Brain researchers found that intuitive decisions are often better than those based on too much (!) information. In any case, intuitive decisions by proven experts in complex decision-making situations are considerably faster and can also be corrected quickly if necessary. In the second case, when very different opinions of two or more groups come together, leaders often tend to postpone their decisions hoping that the parties involved will come closer together over time. This is an illusion. One will usually see the opposite. The time is used to strengthen their own point of view, creating hardened fronts and making a decision even more difficult. In terms of weak decision-making processes, this is one of the biggest drivers for unnecessary costs.
Every decision, whether right or wrong, creates a new and real situation with new dynamics and new opportunities. Postponing decisions leads to stagnation. Moreover, if a company supports a climate in which employees are allowed to learn from mistakes and leaders are role models, no one will worry about a bad decision-making culture. Not surprisingly, Making Decisions is one of the main drivers of business speed.
As role models, leaders are obliged to continuously work on themselves. In best performing organizations and projects there is a zero-tolerance policy towards team members who do not develop further. Almost all challenging everyday situations are used for learning. This is done by continuously reflecting on the interaction between mindsets, behavior and results. This requires curiosity, openness, excellent feedback skills (asking for feedback as well as giving feedback) and a strong intrinsic will for personal growth.
When feedback is lived, the reward is a culture that does not allow stagnation and is based on realistic self-confidence and trust. Developing Oneself is the prerequisite for change and innovation in companies and on projects. Best performing organizations behave pro-actively because their leaders and team members are constantly learning. They actively gain new insights every day and adapt the perception and evaluation of their own products and services to new developments faster than the rest of the market.
No one is an island - this is especially true in the context of companies and projects. Companies are successful because of collective and collaborative efforts. A leader’s performance is measured by the performance of the entire team, division, business unit or company. One of the most compelling analogies for Empowering Others to achieve great teamwork is the interaction of a conductor with his orchestra. A leader relies on a network of colleagues. In most cases, this network consists of individuals from other companies or project teams.
This can include suppliers and customers and sometimes even competitors. The network operates on the basis of voluntary give and take and is not based on formal commitments. The most successful leaders always support others in all matters that are important to them. By doing so, they multiply their own success while creating a culture of best performance. Leaders act as role models for everyone in their environment, for better or for worse. When they support others as best they can, they use a skill that psychologists call social intelligence.
One of the best-known examples of this is former US President Bill Clinton. People who worked closely with him often proudly said, "he cares. "Where the boundaries between companies, customers, suppliers and competitors disappear more and more and project work becomes the dominant principle, the will and the ability to enable others are key qualifications.
Sometimes teams are good at each of the five drivers described above, but still fail to achieve the desired results. Although there is clarity about the direction, the team works efficiently, quickly and flexibly and the team spirit is characterized by energy and creativity, they cannot achieve the goals set.
The main reason can often be found in the “front end”: a lack of customer orientation, inadequate or outdated working methods and resources, poor interface management or unsuitable processes. It is also possible that the team lacks access to success-related information, tasks are not efficiently distributed or delegated, or conflicts are not dealt with constructively. (Lack of) workplace safety can also have an impact here. The "Operating Excellence" driver measures the relevant influencing factors in order to successfully determine the status of your team regarding the implementation of technical and motivational requirements.
The Best Performance Wheel is a pragmatic model to create and maintain best performance. We encourage executives to write these six drivers on a piece of paper and place them visibly on their desk. At the same time, we encourage them to ask themselves the following questions at the end of each working day:
If you ask yourself these questions every evening and you can answer all of these questions with a clear “YES” over a longer period of time, you will notice signs of how a culture of best performance is developing around you.