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Leadership Skills: FLOW and Performance

Flexibly retrievable high performances play an outstanding role in a global economy, in which ups and downs come and go as they so wish. The pressure for companies is especially with sales instruments: marketing, service and sales. Whether managers go down in their company´s history as heroes or sad losers essentially depends on how well they frequently guide their teams to high performances. Normally, the standards of general leadership are only suitable for - as the term already suggests - standard results. Neither the permanent increase in pressure on the involved managers and employees, nor the increase in wages and salaries is suitable for producing functioning and reasonable solutions. Extraordinary performances need extraordinary leadership.

About goals and inhibitors

"Obstacles are those terrible things that stop our eyes from focusing on the goal." With this thought by Henry Ford, it becomes obvious: with rewarding and challenging goals, even the most stony paths and biggest difficulties can be overcome. They are the light at the end of the tunnel that everybody strives for.

Goals affect a team, especially in times of exceptional demands and workloads - like a lighthouse to a ship in a storm. People can surpass themselves when they really and absolutely want to reach something. Leading to better performance in this case means to define goals, to communicate clearly, and to permanently visualize the achievement of subgoals during the whole performance phase. Top performers and good managers see challenges and strive for solutions; inhibitors think instead of obstacles and problems. It depends on which way you decide and which example you choose for your orientation.

Initial situation

Many employees, whether as individuals or as team, are quite committed to their work. However, they do not reach their actual performance capabilities. This has multiple causes which mainly involve disturbances, distraction, lack of concentration, too much or too little pressure, insufficient collaboration in the group, bumpy working processes, as well as an untrained general condition.

As a result, many people are out of power at the end of a working day, and still couls only reach even on diligent days at most 80% of their possible productive capacity. This is where we can often start well, especially if we want to improve individual performance in a significant way. In the following, you will find some valuable suggestions for you, your employees, and your goals.

Team spirit often helps immediately

Sports deliver the best examples: when a common spirit wings a team, it´s going well. Even an average team can outstrip a group of adjacent egoists. But when top performers and diligent people find each other to reach something together, almost everything is possible. For team leaders, this means realizing the relatively easy rules of team building. From a suitable starting communication over the competition of ideas and positions to the universally binding rules and swearing in - so that the whole team presents itself in a high performance structure (Bruce W. Tuckman: Team Clock, Developmental Sequence in Small Groups).

FLOW: Identify with what you do

"To be able to engage oneself with flow is the highest form of emotional intelligence." (Daniel Golemann).

Only in a state of flow can people reach the state of highest performance; this is the opinion of many (work) psychologists. Some have outlined how to promote and reach FLOW (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2003: Good Business, Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning) at work consciously:

  • We tackle the activity head-on. We feel the challenge, it needs certain skills, the challenge and the skills fit together.
  • We are able to concentrate on our actions. We have total concentration, are not distracted, and will not allow ourselves to be distracted. We are not questioning the activity. At the same time (or caused by this), the memory of all the sorrows of everyday life are repressed.
  • The activity has clear goals. We know what we have to do to reach the goal.
  • The activity has immediate feedback. We know from experience when we did something right or wrong.
  • We have a sense of control over our activity. It doesn´t matter whether we really have control - our sense of control is crucial. Our sorrows over ourselves disappear.
For managers, this basically means keeping distractions and trivialities as much as possible away from the team. Even good managers often react to crisis situations and pressure with fears, such that the wish for security and control increases disproportionately. In the following, additional reporting will be prescribed and the precious energy of the employees will be burned with evaluation excesses.
 
For example, allow your sales teams more time for customer acquisition and sales negotiations instead of more time for evaluations. More productive time brings everybody closer to achieving the goals. It is definitely more pleasing to produce successes than figuring out failures down to the last detail.

Follow-up: performance upkeep

After the performance phase, experiences should be processed even briefly for use in future, comparable demands. Like an individual who can store experience, the group also has something like a collective memory. The team has just experienced how capable it can be when it concentrates fully on one thing while working hand in hand. This positive borderline experience almost always guarantees not falling back to the previous performance level but to a slightly higher level. Who has once experienced what is really possible will find it hard to content with less. Performance and success are "legal drugs" that we can permanently produce by and for ourselves.
 
Are you ready for top performances? Feel like bringing your team to a performance peak? Go for it - now!
 
Some practical tips for (your) leadership:
  • Short term, limited increase in performance
  • Create temporary performance teams
  • Use the work mode of a special commission
  • No everyday situations and standards
  • Retrieve individual, personal strengths
  • Swear them in at the beginning
  • Visualize progress
  • Use unusual media to visualize
  • Celebrate subgoals in a team-oriented way
  • During the performance phase, omit tedious tasks that are not important for the success
  • Managers shouls visibly "roll up their sleeves"
  • Plan, install and celebrate all levels of achievement
Long-term performance advancement:
  • Develop a good corporate policy
  • Represent the corporate policy credibly and positively
  • Assign suitable tasks to the right persons
  • Promote open and constructive communication
  • Develop guidelines and offer high standards
  • Challenge and promote with a good personnel development concept
  • Build up complementary teams

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