Last week we sat down with Vics Maloney, previously Global Operations Director of SThree and NED for Storm2, to discuss what makes a high performing leader and how to nurture them in your FinTech team.
I’ve worked with, and trained, some incredible leaders over my career and I’ve found, no matter the industry, they all have four traits.
Most people think passion is enthusiasm, commitment or desire for something however, real passion goes beyond this. It’s about the sacrifices and what you are prepared to give up in sight of your goal or purpose.
People who really make a difference do so by following their passion and this means making a conscious decision to give up other enjoyable activities or time to focus your energy on the most important activities linked to your goals. This obviously entails hard work but is always so rewarding. If you truly follow your passion you’ll not only like where you end up and how quickly, but you’ll also enjoy the journey along the way.
Purpose is about the goal or result, so ultimately about what you are going to achieve and how you are going to get there. Intrinsic motivation is important here but also having a clear roadmap and milestones make this easier and breaks down goals into achievable parts.
Having clarity about your personal proposition is key so you can articulate it to all your stakeholders, clients, and colleagues. What are you famous for? Is it your ability to sell, your dedication to detail or your resilience and ability to problem solve?
High performing individuals start by knowing firstly what is expected of them, what ‘good’ looks like, and finally how they move from Good to Great. I’m a massive advocate of positive performance management which incorporates a managers responsibility of sharing what each of these levels look like. Set the minimum expectation, then define how to perform at a Good level and finally what will allow you to move into the Great performance zone. This gives you the direction and focus to achieve this.
KPIs are great to track performance. In a sales role success will be increased by understanding your ratios and what your personal numbers tell you about what you need to do from an activity point of view to get the results, this will of course tighten over time as you become better at your job. We often have an unrealistic expectation about what we will achieve that is not based on fact, your job may be to sell and influence but it is underpinned by base line activity. Once you understand your numbers it will also help with your discipline and focus on what inputs you need to do daily and weekly, life becomes much easier and you can confidently forecast.
Great Salespeople work on continuous improvement, this may be their ratios, average fee or margin they obtain, they want to be the best they can and use everyday experiences as a learning vehicle to greatness.
In other functions, the premise is the same. Know your numbers. In Marketing it might be ROI or MQLs, in DevOps and Engineering roles it could be keeping to deadlines and how clean your code is, Finance and Operational roles could be around EBITDA or budgetary targets. Whatever your role, make sure your KPIs or targets are clearly defined and you know how you are performing in line with them.
We’ve talked about what you need to contribute, now we need to look at what businesses need to contribute or you as a manger and leader. Firstly, you need to create the right conditions for high performers, by role modelling the desired behaviours, setting the right KPI’s which encourage and reinforce high performers, coaching and supporting and finally ‘catching people doing it right’. You want to recognise and encourage good and great behaviours so they become habitual and so that they are so ingrained within your company ethos that they form the DNA and culture which then become the norms as you grow and diversify.
There are 4 elements that support this and help to create a high performing culture:
- Know me
In order to increase your team engagement and therefore results, you need to understand individual motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. Harnessing these motivations, combined with a tailored learning and development programme, will encourage better performance and bring out the best in your team.
- Focus me
You need to be able to point out and identify good performance and successful behaviours, such as things that high performers say and do, and then articulate this to your team so they know what they need to achieve. This might be in monthly or quarterly reviews, annual target setting or clearly defined job functions.
- Care for me
In really knowing your team as individuals you can tailor your positive reinforcement to encourage successful behaviours to become habitual which is critical in achieving a high engagement and high performing culture. Notice when someone does something right, encouraging it and share this with the team. Acknowledgement should come in the way that motivates the individual. A personal email from the CEO might be enough for your Finance Assistant but your Sales Manager might get more out of a company-wide call out at the next meeting.
- Develop me
Helping your employee become better might be through training but also requires continuous coaching to help everyone become better at what they do, deliver higher performance and to achieve personal and career goals and maximise the opportunities created by growth.
By combing all four P’s you can create and nurture a high performing team with ongoing success for your business.
Vics Maloney has spent her career building and managing high performance teams as Sales Operations Director. As well as running her own consultancy, she sits on Storm2’s board as Non-Exec Director and plays a key role in growing the business.
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