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Give People the Energy to Do Their Best Work

by | Sep 28, 2015

The persistent call of leadership is to find effective ways to deliver superior performance in an enduring way. How do we achieve exemplary results, not just in the present, but for the foreseeable future and beyond? During Doug’s tenure as CEO of Campbell Soup Company he developed a circle of leadership behaviors (which has now evolved to become The ConantLeadership Flywheel) that helps map the path to sustainable high performance. The model is a self-reinforcing group of leadership expectations that are the key to meeting performance-based aspirations. The model is built on the foundational belief that organizations succeed because of people — not in spite of them — and not at their expense. (tweet this)  People are the key to enterprise success. So, as leaders, we must work tirelessly to equip them with the energy to fight the good fight for our organizations. We must build vitality. Doing so is a crucial component to leadership and it’s the fourth practice area in the ConantLeadership Flywheel.

Organizations succeed because of people — not in spite of them — and not at their expense.

What is organization vitality? It’s the spark that keeps people going when adversity rears its head. It’s the vigor that engaged team members bring to tackling thorny problems. It’s the exuberance that is felt throughout a highly functioning organization by every contributor who is working to bring shared goals to fruition — and it’s the pay-it-forward attitude talented people use to help motivate their colleagues and peers. Importantly, you know it when you’ve got it.  And it is alarmingly clear when it is missing.  There should be a palpable “pulse” underscoring the productivity in a high performance environment. And it’s your responsibility as the leader to make that happen; vitality is carefully built. There are three key components:

Motivating People.

It is no small feat to give people the energy to do their jobs with distinction. And it’s certainly a challenge to inspire people to “show up” wholeheartedly every single day in perpetuity. But that’s your job. Motivation is the linchpin that unlocks employee engagement. You must keep people motivated by valuing them, meaningfully thanking them for their efforts, and influencing them in a way that honors their unique contributions. You should further inspire by anchoring employee efforts in a compelling purpose that connects the work of the enterprise to a vision that transcends day-to-day duties.  Always remember that you must continually, and tangibly, demonstrate to your employees that you value their agenda before you can ever expect them to value the organization’s agenda. (tweet this) When people feel fully supported in these integral ways, they are empowered to do their best work.

Creating Extraordinary Teams.

Teams bring goals from conception to reality and are responsible for making great work come “alive.”  They are at the heart of organizational vitality. To build great teams, you must pledge to always hire the best people for the job, provide them with the necessary resources to get the work done, and develop talent so that even your best people are always getting better. When you make attracting top talent a priority and follow that up with meaningful development opportunities, you have teams comprised of talented learners who are continually finding new ways to solve problems and grow the organization. It may seem obvious — but it’s important to state your intention to build and develop teams explicitly. Then do it. And expect the same from all the other leaders in the organization.

State your intention to build and develop teams.

Championing Performance.

When you have motivated people, and built highly talented teams, you are uniquely positioned to deliver ongoing extraordinary performance. But it is by no means guaranteed. It must be achieved purposely through the championing of performance in four key ways. First, you have to ensure you are clearly defining performance expectations. Then, you must reinforce those standards by celebrating people when they meet or exceed expectations.  Next, when people don’t perform you have to provide timely and constructive feedback. Finally, you must provide the necessary coaching to lift performance when appropriate. When you champion performance in these tangible ways, you are doing the crucial leadership work necessary to build and maintain organization vitality.

Leadership unquestionably requires the relentless, but honorable, pursuit of enduring high performance. You simply can’t achieve it without people. That’s why the ConantLeadership Flywheel approaches leadership behaviors from a people-first perspective. At the heart of the model is the idea that the onus is on you to give people the energy to do their best work. To build vitality and facilitate superior outcomes, you have to motivate people, build extraordinary teams, and visibly champion performance.  These ideas must be hardwired into your approach for the duration of your leadership tenure. Because the work of building vitality is never done. It is ongoing. Today, tomorrow, and every day: you’ve got to do your best to inspire people to do their best. (tweet this)

(Photo via Unsplash)

Doug Conant is remarkable—and so is this work.
– Stephen M. R. Covey
Author of The Speed of Trust

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