How to Build a High-performance Workplace through Leadership

Whether you want information on a specific aspect or the subject broadly, there’s an abundance of materials and resources about leadership. The best leaders focus more on the culture of a am and environment rather than feeling like they must have all the answers. During my career as a leader, I’ve discovered that there are eight leadership qualities you need to adopt before you can begin building a high-performance workplace.  

1 – Leaders have positive assumptions about people.  

I believe that 95% of people are good, hard working, responsible, bright, and trusted employees. And yet, leaders often focus on the “5 percenter” marginal employee group, writing policies, rules, and structures that often have a negative impact on the other hard-working 95%. Spend your time focused on your 95% and remove the 5 percenters from your team.  

2 – Leaders eliminate negatives in the workplace.  

Define a “negative” as anything that minimizes vs. maximizes a person’s feeling of value to the team. Prioritize these on your list and move engagement barriers out of the way.  

3 – Leaders practice open, two-way, adult-to-adult communication.   

Be forthcoming with your communication and issues that need to be discussed. Use each conversation to encourage dialogue and input. Finally, talk to employees as you would a neighbor that you like (not that other neighbor – you know the one). Parental or authoritarian style communication is demeaning and erodes trust.   

4 – Leaders prioritize involvement and empowerment.  

Where possible, involve employees in decisions that affect them. Participation breeds commitment, and commitment breeds success.   

5 – Leaders establish mutual trust and respect.  

The word “trust” often needs calibration in many work environments. As a leader, raise the standard and definition of trust for your team. Trust should be given freely – not earned. However, be clear about what breaks it (lying, cheating, and stealing).  

6 – Leaders make time for training.

Training is every employee’s responsibility. Prioritize training in three areas where possible: leadership, team  (on the job aspects directly shared by experts from within the area of focus), and skills. People view the time invested in personal and professional development as a reflection of a leader’s value for their people.  

7 – Leaders prioritize competitive wages and benefits.

In my experience, organizations that offer “top dollar” may be doing so for a reason… and that may not always be a good thing! Make wages and benefits a non-issue by being fair and competitive.  

8 – Leaders set high expectations.

These first 7 elements create the right culture and workplace environment that enables leaders to set the highest expectations of people. Set high marks and challenge employees to reach them. High expectations guarantee high performance.   

Creating a high-performance workplace for yourself and your team is not hard. It’s also not passive, soft, permissive, or autocratic. It is demanding, fair, results-driven, positive, participative, and rewarding for everyone involved. Your people are capable of amazing things; now go build a team that reaches incredible heights!