January 28, 2020

Total Performance Leadership Blog Post #1: Unified Leadership-Building a World Class Leadership Team

By Rob Andrews

If you intend to build a culture of peak performance, the first step is to build a world-class leadership team. Without hiring the right leaders, your organization will never operate with a clear sense of purpose or develop a culture that delivers extraordinary results and engages all stakeholders.

Three Destructive Archetypes

In a study conducted by Will Felps, a professor at the University of South Wales, Felps identifies three destructive archetypes that, when introduced to a group, will instantly destroy a positive group dynamic and severely diminish the effectiveness of any team. The three archetypes are the jerk, the slacker, and the downer.

Jerks simply treat others badly. They can usually be described as egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. They don’t feel good about themselves, so they belittle others. The biggest problem is that jerks are often otherwise good performers. They are almost always overachievers who excel at delivering on revenue, key business objectives, and personal productivity, but no matter how much jerks produce, they are pure peak-performance culture killers.

Slackers are just along for the ride. They typically don’t say much, don’t contribute much, and don’t rock the boat. They shirk responsibilities and detract from team effectiveness and spirit by unknowingly making team members feel unsafe and disconnected. Some slackers may even be critical, cynical, and defensive – though not all. This kind of influence is insidious and does not belong on a high-performing team.

Downers may work hard, be dependable, make significant contributions, and may otherwise be great people, but their demeanor and outlook are always negative, which is a true culture killer. They often look tired and have a faraway, disconnected look on their faces. They play the martyr, blame others, and rarely take responsibility for their results. Every member owes the team positive energy every day, and there is no place for downers on a high-performance leadership team.

Building Immunity Against Negative Archetypes

In all but one of the study groups, any one of these bad apples resulted in a sharp reduction in overall group performance. However, one group was immune to the jerk, the slacker, and the downer because in it was a man who responded to every negative archetype with warmth and positivity. By making the other members feel safe and comfortable, he neutralized the effect of the bad apples and helped the group perform. This finding underscores an important point: We perform best when we receive belonging cues that bolster our perceptions of safety and connectedness and our sense of purpose. Additionally, team dynamics improve when every member is held accountable for bringing fresh ideas, getting things done, supporting others, and contributing positive energy. In order to make your team feel safe, it is critical to challenge or, if necessary, eliminate the destructive archetypes on your team.

The research concluded that our brains are wired to constantly be on alert and on the lookout for danger, so sending positive cues that signal a future together, common objectives, and safety as well as correcting performance and character issues helps us perform better and improve cohesiveness on the team. Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight, but with time, patience, and vigilance, you can build a culture of peak-performance within your organization and deliver exceptional business results.