4 Moves Smart Leaders Make to Get Better Team Results

Guest post by Victor Prince:
Teams at work
are like portfolios of people with different skills and performance patterns.
Like smart investment managers, smart people managers figure out how to shift
their investment of time and energy from some parts of their portfolio so they
can invest more in other parts where there is more potential for improvement.
Here are four moves that smart leaders do to get the highest overall return
from their team.
1.   Stop
Micromanaging your Exemplars

– You know who the Exemplars on your team are. They are the star performers who
produce great results without needing much help from you. Many leaders,
however, spend more time than they need to direct or check the work of their
Exemplars. Not only is that a waste of the leader’s time, but it can be
frustrating to the Exemplars. Leaders often over-manage Exemplars because it is
easier than managing other people on their team who need more supervision but
are harder to work with. Some leaders may also spend too much time with their
Exemplars because they think that by doing so, they might get more credit for
the great results the Exemplars generate. Weak leaders may even worry that
their Exemplars are more respected than they are, making them want to exert
their formal authority more. Whatever the case, smart leaders will dial back
their micromanagement of their Exemplars to free up some of their own time to
invest elsewhere.
2.   Start
Managing your Passengers

– Passengers are the folks on your team who show up to work but you have a hard
time finding any results other than paystubs from them. They don’t annoy you or
get in the way of other people on the team, but they are dragging your team
down. Your team morale suffers because, even if you don’t notice Passengers’
lack of real results, their colleagues do and resent you for letting them get
away with not pulling their weight. Some leaders shy away from managing their
Passengers because it is uncomfortable. The “you need to start pulling your
weight” is a difficult conversation that weak leaders avoid. The thing
Passengers are best at is not causing trouble, so a weak leader finds it easy
to just ignore the problems. But if a leader does start holding a Passenger
accountable for the same results as their peers, good things will happen. The
Passenger will start producing or make it easier for the leader to make way for
someone who will. And their peers may step up their results as well as the team
morale improves when they see their leader making much needed, albeit
uncomfortable, moves for the overall good of the team.  
3.   Stop
Enabling your High Cost Producers

– Like your Exemplars, the High Cost Producers on your team produce good
results, but they incur high costs along the way. They may cause a lot of
problems and ill will with others as they steamroll their way to results. Or
they may need a lot of hand-holding from you to get their job done. Either way,
you are enabling them by fixing their problems and doing their thinking for
them. If a steamroller hurts a relationship, you are probably using your own
political capital to sooth unnecessarily hurt feelings. If you are helping make
decisions that one of your team members should be making, you are now taking
accountability for the results of those decisions. Making your High Cost
Producers accountable for cleaning up their own messes and making their own
decisions is the best way you can force them to develop the skills they need to
be independent. It also frees up time for you to help others on your team who
need the help more.
4.   Start
Addressing your Detractors

– You know who the Detractors are on your team, and everyone else does too.
They are the people who are not pulling their own weight and are also pulling
everyone else down because of the problems they cause. You end up spending a
lot of your time cleaning up their messes or doing their jobs. They may just
lack the skills they need to get their job done but are not willing to ask for
help for fear of showing weakness. Maybe their job changed but they didn’t get
the additional training they needed. Or they maybe they just lack the
motivation to do their job. Whatever it is, you owe it to them, and to the rest
of your team, to quit just throwing band aids on their problems and address them
directly. The Detractors need to know the status quo is not sustainable, they
need to get out of the rut they are in, and that you will do all you can to
help them. You will stop spending your time covering up their problems and spend
the time it takes to help them build the skills they need to keep their job.

help you figure out where these opportunities are on your team, you can take
this online assessment
to diagnose your own team situation. To learn more about the framework behind
this methodology, you can read Lead Inside the
Box: How Smart Leaders Guide their Teams to Exceptional Results
by Victor
Prince and Mike Figliuolo.

Victor Prince: As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the U.S. Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB),
Victor Prince helped build a new federal agency and led a division of
hundreds of people. As a consultant with Bain & Company, he helped clients
across the United States and Europe develop successful business strategies.
Today, Victor is a consultant and speaker who
teaches strategy and
leadership skills to clients around the world. Victor is co-author of 
Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide their
Teams to Exceptional Results
(Career Press, July 2015) which is now available at
Barnes &
and other retailers.