High performing teams start with effective leaders

Clinton Poore our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 27 October 2020

Since mid-March and the start of the UK’s lockdown, we’ve been having very similar conversations with senior leaders across all of our sectors. In addition to discussions around short-and long-term business strategy and success, we’ve been covering the topic of leadership effectiveness. Now more than ever, strong leaders are required to push businesses forward and inspire teams.

When we’ve asked clients, “How effective have your leaders been during this time?”, we’ve received mixed results, from “struggling” and “doing the best they can in the circumstances” through to one HR Director telling us that their leaders have redefined their relationship with their teams and are thriving. This variation in responses tells us there is a real opportunity for businesses to be doing more to support and nurture their leaders – and in turn, develop more effective teams.

Why is effective leadership so important right now?

Many organisations are currently undergoing re-thinks, re-structures and re-brands to help them navigate a post-pandemic landscape. This goes beyond simply introducing more work-from-home policies, and for many will involve a complete overhaul that will fundamentally change what the company means and how it sits in the marketplace. As part of this, we can expect to see more emphasis placed on team and leader effectiveness, especially as industries everywhere - from insurance and financial services to retail - embrace a new digital outlook. 

How can businesses help to build better teams and leaders?

While the recruitment market has undergone a shift from being candidate-driven to client-led, that doesn’t mean there’s not still competition for top talent. In fact, we’ve seen an uptick in companies going above and beyond to retain key leaders, offering additional professional and personal development opportunities. Board effectiveness exercises, individual and team assessments and coaching are all increasingly popular as organisations realise how much of an asset high-performing teams are during these challenging times.

Many of our clients are telling us that productivity and efficiency are at an all-time high, with leaders putting an enormous amount of trust in their teams to perform effectively. In order for teams to fulfil this expectation – and for leaders to empower them to do so – there needs to be ongoing professional support from the top down. Mandy Hickson, former fighter pilot and current leadership speaker, recently spoke at the AFM Connect about the importance of leadership and how it can empower teams to do more. Using the ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ acronym, she also explained how selfless leadership leads to credibility, reliability and intimacy, all of which contribute to team success. 

The reliability and credibility theme has also been echoed by Major General (retired) Paul Nanson, who believes that leaders need to be more authentic in order to build trust with their teams. Openness, honesty and a willingness from senior and executive leadership to ‘walk the walk’ can help to build this trust and create an environment of authenticity within the modern workplace.

The modern leader now requires new skills

While there are certain hard skills and experience that are being sought out in many industries, we’re also seeing real demand for soft skills such as resilience, empathy and interpersonal abilities. These skills don’t necessarily relate to what the work is, but how the work is done – and can be transferred between jobs and even industries. Within our markets, we’re now seeing a pre-requisite for people who can successfully work remotely – and certainly for leaders who can manage remotely – as well as those who are purposeful, empathetic, culture and values-focused and leaders who champion diversity and inclusion. This latter point has been commented on by HR leader Ian Iceton, who believes that team effectiveness is primarily about inclusion. His view is that organisations should be looking at ways to incorporate more inclusive practices into their everyday work, and in turn they'll reap the benefits that come with an improved diversity and culture.

How Hanover can help you nurture your leaders

At Hanover, we understand that every business – and therefore every team and every leader – is different. There are, however, commonalities we have identified through our Leadership Solutions that can help with team development in businesses of all sizes, across all industries. Our ‘Journey to a high-performance team’ methodology is just one way of helping organisations to improve their team effectiveness. 

Hanover team development journey

We’re already seeing an increasing demand for external expertise and facilitation of leadership team effectiveness, including board, executive and business unit/function-level leaders, and we expect to see this continuing well into 2021. Our eight-stage team development process combines one-to-one conversations with team workshops and group activities, which enables teams to pause, reflect and plan. Our external facilitators provide impartial feedback and external perspectives, with next-generation psychometrics used to increase self-awareness and explore team dynamics. This methodology has received consistently positive feedback from teams and leaders.

We apply our process in a tailored way that suits your business and reflects your priorities. Whether you’re looking to incorporate more collaboration and cohesion into your executive team or define what high performance leadership looks like for your business, we can help. CONTACT US HERE to start a conversation.

Thank you to RICHARD WADDELL for contributing to this article.

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