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Making a Dream Team

How to become a leader who wins hearts to maximize performance

Back Article May 5, 2021 By Hernani Alves

This story is part of our May 2021 issue. To subscribe, click here.

A great leader loves and respects their employees. And a great leader recognizes that it is their job to uplift the team by holding everyone accountable and motivating them to strive for excellence. 

Accountability is a powerful tool, but to be effective, it has to be rooted in love and desire to see your employees go further than yourself. Having a mindset of building up your team when they’re down and celebrating wins — big and small — for the hard-fought victories is key to making people successful. 

There were many people who went out of their way to mentor and guide me, and I was able to work my way up from a part-time employee to executive of a large company. Over the years, I’ve studied and tested accountability techniques, and these three steps can improve your leadership capabilities and help create the dream team that you have always wanted — a team that is self-disciplined to embrace and hold each other accountable to maximize performance.  

1. Personal accountability

To be a successful leader, before implementing anything into your workplace, you must work on improving yourself. Think about some of the best leaders you have worked with and all the traits you appreciated about them. You must become, in all aspects, a shining example of what your employees should strive to be when they come into the workplace every day. Anything short of that, and you’re quickly on the way to losing the respect and trust of anyone who works under your leadership. 

When was the last time you asked your team what you as a leader can do more or less of to become the best leader possible for them? Add this question to your next one-on-one session with them, take notes when they give feedback and then apply them.  

2. Positive accountability

The word “positive” has such a bad rap for being a “soft” way of leading. The “hard” bully types of managers will say the best way to lead a team is to be as rough as possible to weed out the weak employees. But that is a recipe for failure: No one will want to work with you. If you plan to rule with an iron fist so your employees fear you instead of respect you, you will see your turnover skyrocket.  

Successful leaders give their teams an atmosphere of positivity, and this step is by far the easiest one to implement. All you really need to do is simply catch people doing things right and acknowledge them. Celebrate their wins, and give briefings to your employees. The positivity you radiate as a leader will spread to others, and they will want to follow you.  

3. Performance accountability

When you reprimand someone and try to hold them accountable for their work, they will often put up a defensive barrier to shield themselves from what they feel as being ridiculed. That’s a natural reaction. To avoid putting your team members in a position where they feel ridiculed, you need to show your workers that you genuinely care about their individual goals and success.

Reprimands are what many people think of as accountability. However, holding someone accountable for their actions this way can invite your team to resist and resent your leadership. You don’t need shame to hold someone accountable. Performance accountability allows you to coach your staff, show them ways to improve and avoid the same errors instead of penalizing them for their missteps. Even Michael Jordan, arguably basketball’s greatest player, missed 9,000 shots during his career. If you were the Michael Jordan of your field, would you want your coach to severely punish you or coach you through so you don’t make similar mistakes in the future?

To lead is to motivate. Follow these three steps in order to guide your employees toward improvement and reliability. Jumping around may lead to missing the foundation needed to make this work. Without a strong footing based on your own accountability and positivity, focusing on performance will come across as strict and unreasonable. No one will want to work with you, and you can forget about your employees giving you their best effort. 

Showing genuine loyalty to your team can influence the way they perform. It will prompt them to do better. You’ll win their hearts and raise their standards all in one go and create a high-performing dream team that will follow you anywhere. 

 

Hernani Alves is a former executive of Sleep Train and Mattress Firm. He is the bestselling author of “Balanced Accountability” and an international speaker who helps leaders build high-performing, loyal teams. For more information, visit hernanialves.com.

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