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The invisible skills that all high performing leaders have

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

I was reading this article on what makes an employee a high performance leader and there was a list of tips on how to become one. Are you ready? Because I think it raised my heart rate with anxiety when I read it. If you want to become king of the hill you must:

  1. Manage your time: beat procrastination, set the right priorities, and use time tracking apps.

  2. Focus on your goals: What you do or don’t do is all informed by your goals and you don’t waste time on anything that doesn’t drive you closer to your goals.

  3. Show consistent effort: Always give your best, be super organized, and be so reliable that your bosses know they can count on you to get everything done.

  4. Stay positive: When everyone complains, you focus on what must be done and exude positivity.

  5. Be open to feedback: As a top performer you have to accept constructive criticism. You must welcome criticism and be grateful for it even when it is given harshly. If that is the case, you have to not take it personally.

  6. Have strong skills: Be really good at your job and be equally good at interpersonal dynamics. People have to like you.

  7. Always look for growth: Have a plan to move up the ladder by focusing on skills based-training and consume webinars and workshops and anything available to you.

  8. Respect everyone: Stay humble, be inclusive and model acceptance. Try to be helpful.

  9. Be a leader and a teacher: Show leadership skills even if you don’t have the title. Use your knowledge and experience to guide and manage people.

10. Keep a healthy work-life balance: You also have to workout, stay hydrated,

have fun, and have your own personal goals.

No big deal.

No pressure.

What I've noticed about being a high performing leader

It requires mastery of self-regulation and the art of supporting your body to recover quickly when the unexpected happens. While most people are running around crying that the sky is falling, the high performance leader knows how to listen to the feelings coming up but doesn’t let the feelings drive the cart.

Workshop #2 of the Bust Through Leadership Overwhelm series, is all about mastering self-regulation. And the first step is bringing awareness to the body and understanding what it is communicating via feelings and/or physical sensations. This knowledge rests on the foundation of the Trauma Informed Approach. It is important that organizations begin to educate themselves on how they can create an environment for resilience in the face of trauma. A trauma-informed workplace understands that collective trauma can manifest itself through: higher turnover, higher absenteeism, lowered productivity, increased errors, impaired executive functioning, lower quality of work, increased counter productive workplace practices such as bullying and harassment, and finally fast deterioration of work culture. But this article shows that where team members reported trusting their management they showed: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more life satisfaction, and 40% less burnout.

Those are some pretty strong numbers!

In the previous blog post (you can read that here), I was sharing how managers were trying to crack the code on employee engagement. Spoiler alert! It’s not pizza parties and wearing jeans on friday. It starts with psychological safety.

I am trying hard to not get sidetracked here. The point I am trying to make is…when you filter the list of traits of high performing professionals through the trauma informed lens, this is what it looks like:

  1. It’s not about time management so much as it is about bandwidth management. What good is a chunk of time to finish a task if you can’t focus. A lot of the ability to focus has to do with the chemicals floating around in your brain. Sleep is the cornerstone for all of this. Learn how to manage your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

  2. Focus on your goals and stay positive. This requires knowing the art of persistence (riding the waves of emotions) and the science of hope. Seeing a path forward and the self-confidence that you can make it through will keep you going after your goals despite setbacks. But for this you have to notice the narrative and maybe some limiting beliefs you have around what you can or cannot do. Mindset training is imperative to remain focused and positive.

  3. Show consistent effort and always look for growth. Consistency comes from habits and rituals. You have to learn to map out what your physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs are so you can enjoy stability. Showing up with the same consistent energy requires consistency and stability in your life.

  4. Be open to feedback and respect everyone. This belongs to healthy communication skills. Understanding your triggers and window of regulation allows you to set the tone with those around you, but also, it protects your energy. Not everyone will know how to offer feedback in a polished way. Understanding this will keep you from spilling your energy everywhere by being reactionary to criticism. Using the venting process we teach during Workshop #2, allows you to discharge the negative energy that builds up when someone triggers you with their actions and their words. Once you have come back into the window of regulation, and knowing how to detect people’s different communication styles, you use your skills in the art of managing up.

  5. Have strong skills, be a leader and a teacher. Using the knowledge on co-regulation and communication that we teach, you know how to get buy-in from people. People can recognize you as a leader worth following even if you don’t have an official title. A sincere desire to help and assuming positive intent when there is conflict are required to do this well. And you can only assume positive intent when you understand that most people aren’t maliciously trying to sabotage you, but they are pursuing a need of their own at the best of their ability.

  6. Keep a healthy work-life balance. You know you can’t pour from an empty cup. During workshop #2, we learn all about self-regulation and use goal setting strategies to make a map of self-care that ensures you stay in the energy that you enjoy the most. When you are caring for yourself appropriately, you remain calm, curious, playful, and collaborative. But when you’re not caring for yourself well, you can get stuck in survival mode and not notice that you are inflexible, reactionary, defensive, critical, and negative. Sometimes it is hard to notice until people say something. Using the skills to “get your witness in play” allows you to understand at all times what is going on with you, and diligently meet the need as it shows up.

I’ve heard people say that high performers are 1% of the people in their organization but produce most of the results. If we want to make this sustainable, high performing leaders require a tailored self-care plan, and a deeper understanding of emotional intelligence, communication, and conflict resolution. That is what we teach during the Bust Through Leadership Overwhelm workshops. Come join us! Click the link below to get on the waitlist and be the first to hear when our next series goes live!

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