What are the most important aspects in leading a high-performing team?

Going beyond performance to lead with self-awareness and a focus on individual and shared needs.
Thriving professionals mainly have one thing in common: a high self-awareness and with that, the ability to make their values and needs actionable.
When we look at successful people we often trick ourselves into thinking they are successful due to great education, a high IQ, or their dedication to work hard. While all of these factors may contribute to success, research has confirmed that thriving professionals mainly have one thing in common: high self-awareness and with that, the ability to make their values and needs actionable.

For leaders, EQ is much more important than IQ.

EQ is a human's awareness of others' and their own emotions. In a leadership context, this allows leaders to more carefully assess situations and approach them appropriately. By emotionally assessing situations and behaviors, leaders can positively influence the engagement and motivation of their teams. This lays the foundation to take action on shared values and reach common goals.

A lot of benefits come from that.
Motivating themselves and others
According to Goleman's model, those with a high self-awareness have a greater ability to self-regulate. With that come higher levels of (self-)motivation. This is connected to higher self-confidence and the ability to get things done with no to little delay.

Not just that, a leader's ability to motivate can impact the performance of an entire team. While leaders with a high EQ may positively affect collaboration, they can actually also support the development of a so-called Team EQ, an emotional intelligence of its own. A seminal 2001 study by Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steve B Wolff found that team EQ is a significant factor in determining performance. Writing in Harvard Business Review, they said: "Our research shows that, just like individuals, the most effective teams are emotionally intelligent ones – and that any team can attain emotional intelligence… By working to establish norms for emotional awareness and regulation at all levels of interaction, teams can build the solid foundation of trust, group identity, and group efficacy they need for true cooperation and collaboration – and high performance overall."

When it comes to business, motivation and performance go hand-in-hand. When you're looking to increase productivity and engagement, betting on leader with high self-awareness is a safe choice.
Being agile, continuous learning, prototyping
In today's competitive business environments, only the most agile and creative can thrive. Businesses depend on employees and managers who work for them to be highly engaged, so they can adapt quickly to changes, practice fresh thinking, and come up with new ideas. But did you know that innovative thinking is also closely connected to one's will to continuously learn, prototype, and integrate failures?

"The set of skills we need to meet these needs are rooted in our emotional and social behaviors – and studies also show that, as you grow a culture of emotional intelligence in your organization, levels of absenteeism drop, and engagement levels increase," explains Psychologist Dr. Martyn Newman.

Agility is enabled by providing people with a safe and supportive environment where they feel encouraged to think outside the box and share their ideas. But how do leaders know what makes their employees feel safe? It goes back to a leader's ability to read the needs of their team members. By recognizing others' motivations, leaders can grasp what their team members need to feel safe enough to leave their comfort zones.

As the popular theory goes, the way you handle failure can generally put you into one of two categories. If you believe your failure is a sign you will never be good at something, you have a fixed mindset. If you believe you must persevere and work harder in the face of failure, you have a growth mindset. This, essentially, means that a great leader will support team members to grow from failure.
Health and wellbeing
Countless studies have shown the links between a high emotional awareness and improved mental wellbeing. While this seems to be an obvious connection, the link between self-awareness and physical wellbeing or health is less known. However, logically, a better mental wellbeing means less stress, which results in better sleep and hence a higher chance of remaining healthy. Maybe this is why in a study from 2011, 71% of recruiters were looking for people with a high EQ rather than IQ - because they tend to stay healthy.

People who strongly attenuate their emotions are able to cope with stressful situations, overcome hesitance to seeking medical attention, accept physiological changes, and proactively seek resolutions that lead to better health. This can be manifested in everything from overcoming addiction to improving diet, exercising regularly, or practicing mindfulness. All of these behavioral rhythms are linked to strong emotional intelligence and the accountability for one's own well being which is connected with it.

If leaders practice healthy regimes, this can positively influence their team members to form healthier habits themselves. Maybe you can go for a run together - and strengthen your health, lower your stress levels, and bond over a shared interest all at the same time?
Knowing when to step out
According to S. Wheelans popular Integrated Model of Group Development, the higher a group ventures through the stages of team development, the smaller the need for a dominant leader. A leader with high self-awareness will be able to tell when team members become more independent and require less attention. By acting in line with the team's needs, such a leader will highly benefit team dynamics and take on the role of a guide.

"In the first two stages, leaders need to be very present, offer continuous guidance and feedback and hold up the group's shared goals. As the group progresses into the third and fourth stage, leaders are required to step back and let the group members work more independently. In a highly productive stage four team, the leader ideally acts as a guiding light, rather than being actively involved in each member's tasks."

In today's hectic world a leader that is aware of employee needs and acts on them is a core component for wellbeing and success. For businesses who want to outperform their competition in the long run it makes sense to invest in leaders with strong awareness to oversee motivation, performance, innovation, and wellbeing.

At Everyday, we believe in giving everyone the opportunity to grow and positively impact the teams and organizations they work for.
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