Thursday 16 July 2015

Maximize Your Team’s Performance by “Leading Inside the Box”

Have you noticed that many leaders manage their teams on the fly, investing little thought to where and how they allocate their time among their team members? They do so without prioritization, either allocating time equally across each team member or giving as much time to each individual as they demand. Their leadership role in performance management is neither strategic nor well-planned.

Lead Inside the Box, How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results provides a simple and effective approach to assess and manage your team’s effectiveness. Victor Prince and Mike Figliuolo have created an assessment framework called the Leadership Matrix. The matrix lays out four distinct employee profiles based on behavioral characteristics individuals demonstrate. Each profile is defined by the level of output the employee produces in relation to the input required from the leader to achieve productivity.

The Leadership Matrix gives you a picture of your team’s collective and individual strengths and opportunities for improvement. It also provides the foundation for a plan to realign how you spend your “leadership capacity” to maximize individual and team performance. 

After clearly explaining the assessment process, the authors provide advice on how to allocate your time across behavioral types to maximize performance. Strategies and tactics are outlined for each type that easily translate into a development plan.  

The book also offers guidance on leader scenarios including taking on a new team, leading a team you were a member of, a reorganization and a reduction in team size.

What I find fascinating is that shortly after learning the four employee types, I have been compelled to begin assessing the teams of leaders I work with. I first identified a High Cost Producer, Squeaky Wheel mid-manager who produces results, but monopolizes the leader’s time. Most of this time would have been better spent with another team member, an Exemplar, Rising Star, who is an effective, self-starter destined for senior roles in the company. And then there is the Passenger, Stowaway, a low producer who lacks drive and only appears to do the bare minimum in his role. The leader needs to “Lead Inside the Box.”

The team assessment is easy to complete based on the behaviors displayed either in one-on-one or team meetings. Each Leadership Matrix reveals the pattern of where people are concentrated across the four profile types. This picture is helpful to see where your team is skewed.  Opportunities for performance improvement are also easy to spot based on the guidance provided throughout the book.

Lead Inside the Box is a great read for any leader (or developer of leaders) who wants a simple and effective way of maximizing their team’s performance. It provides a framework, assessment process and development advice that are relevant, practical and effective. It is the perfect guidance to elevate a leader and his or her team to the next level.


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