Flip the Script: A New Approach to a Culture of Performance
How Humanized Leaders Create a High-Performance Culture - With Less Effort
“Your focus is what flourishes. Where are you placing your attention?”
– Mary Pat Knight, The Humanized Leader
In today’s dynamic business landscape, heart-centered business owners and entrepreneurs increasingly recognize the importance of people in the success of their ventures. It’s not just about profits or product innovations; it’s about cultivating a high-performance culture that motivates every individual to give their best.
But how do we ensure that our leadership energy is well-spent? How do we foster a culture of performance that not only recognizes excellence, but also drives everyone to achieve it? Enter the Attention Continuum, a theory and strategy I’ve developed over my years of leadership and emotional intelligence coaching.
There is a dance of time and energy that all leaders face. Imagine the totality of your leadership energy as a finite reservoir—100% capacity, to be precise. It’s your job to make decisions about the focus and use of that energy. Your choices, not external circumstances, determine the outcomes you reap. Yes, you’re in the driver’s seat. You are never the victim of circumstance.
Depending upon your world view and natural wiring, your expenditure on the energy around people can be depleting or uplifting. If you tend to feel depleted, do you find more than half your energy consumed by problematic employees or poor performers? If you raised your hand, welcome to a familiar club. We are conditioned to believe that if we counsel enough, discipline well, or train hard, our poor performers will succeed. More often than not, we feel as though we are beating our head against a brick wall of resistance.
Please support your bottom performers, but not at the expense of your best performers.
Look at a spectrum of performance within your culture. Let’s consider a team of 10. A fair split of performance might be 20/60/20. Two are bottom performers, two are top performers and six straddle the center. Your uber-focus on creating performance improvement with the bottom 20% often results in an attentional deficit for the remaining – and higher-performing – team members.
Allocating disproportionate energy—let’s say 50%—on enhancing the performance of the weakest 20% is a recipe for frustration, irritation, and defeat that births a culture marred by exasperation and disenchantment. A more pragmatic approach would involve dedicating about 20% of your attention to this group, steering them with clear expectations, thoughtful inspection, and appropriate consequences.
Check yourself for performance bias. Do you inadvertently neglect your top performers because they don’t “require” attention? Do you assume they are self-sufficient because they do their jobs well without a lot of coaching and, therefore, don’t “need” you?
Think again. Top performers thrive on feedback and, although usually not seeking it, they flourish with appreciation. What more could be achieved with your high performers who feel the love?
Try placing a greater percentage (maybe even the 50% you used to offer your poor performers) of your attention and appreciation on your top performers. If you don’t, some clever recruiter just may and end up luring them away.
Now look at the middle group – the remaining 60% who offer average to good performance. This group is pivotal in crafting a culture of performance. By witnessing your appreciation of stellar performance, they’ll be inspired to elevate their game. By flipping your focus to top performers rather than the familiar bottom, you’ll provide an expectation roadmap to this critical middle group.
Remember, what you focus upon, grows. A constant focus on those lagging creates a workplace rife with melodrama and diversion. If the middle watches you place your focus on the appreciation of greater performance, they too will step into greater performance. Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself and watch what happens when you place your focus on the top.
The mantra is simple: accentuate the positive, motivate the middle, and manage the challenging.
In Summary: Cultivating a High-Performance Culture
By readjusting our focus as leaders, we can truly create a culture of performance where each member, regardless of their current standing, is inspired and motivated to ascend to greater heights. This is the essence of a high-performance culture and indeed the foundation of an enterprise that thrives and endures.
Mary Pat Knight is CEO of Leaders Inspired an executive coaching and consulting agency devoted to the development of emotionally intelligent leaders. She is also the author of the Amazon #1 International Best Selling book, The Humanized Leader.
The ground-breaking new book, The Humanized Leader: The Transformative Power of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership to Impact Culture, Team and Business Results, is now available in Kindle, paperback, or as an audiobook. To get your copy or extras for your team, click the button below.