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How to Lead a Team

The Complete Guide to Improving Team Performance with Effective Leadership

Introduction

Imagine what it would be like to lead a team of people who feel empowered, capable, safe, open, excited to improve, and inspired to work together. Allow yourself to think about that possibility for a minute...

What might you be able to accomplish?

How might the whole organization benefit?

How different would your professional life look?

 

It makes sense that you’d aspire to this level of functionality for yourself, your team, and your organization, especially if your current work life paints quite a different picture. 

There are managers and organizational leaders everywhere who struggle to motivate their people and foster optimal performance. From breaking down silos and improving communication to sustaining positive energy, promoting innovative ideas, and meeting organizational goals, there’s no shortage of challenges facing today’s leaders. 

Right now, it might feel like no one’s on the same page, you’re spending all your time putting out fires, and everyone’s constantly looking to you for answers. You may be frustrated with a lack of autonomy where you’d like to see self-starting attitudes. Or perhaps you’ve sensed some real potential on your team but haven’t quite figured out how to tap into it. This is incredibly common for corporate and organizational professionals, so know that you are not alone.

The good news? A whole new reality is completely within your reach.

Engaging your team with an approach that feels authentic and inspiring starts with understanding what effective leadership actually entails. That’s why you’re here—to learn all about the kind of leadership that takes your people, your relationships, and your own career to the next level. 

So, yes, you’re in the right place. In fact, this is where your journey toward truly powerful and transformational leadership begins. 

Download a PDF of this Guide

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The Emerging Landscape of Leadership

Technology continues to grip and shift just about every aspect of our lives.

In business, it expedites growth, provides data to drive continuous improvement, delivers a high level of convenience, and facilitates global connectedness like never before. There’s a good chance you’ve witnessed these effects within your own organizational role. 

Even so, technology can never be an equal or effective replacement for the humanity required in any organization’s environment. You and your organization can deploy all the technology in the world, but if your people aren’t performing optimally and displaying true commitment, that technology won’t fix the problem. Because the problem isn’t about technical systems and production efficiencies at all—it’s about leadership.

And whether you intend to be a leader or not, you ARE one. The very act of being in a relationship with another human means you are influencing in some way. That influence can either serve you and others well… or not so well. The difference lies in your awareness of it— how conscious you are of its existence and therefore, its power.

Consider the danger of not understanding how your own leadership style contributes to your team culture or work environment. We’re not just talking about the high costs associated with unhappy workers who seek employment elsewhere. People promoted to leadership positions without abundant self-awareness and an intentional mindset can become quickly overwhelmed and stressed—feelings that easily trickle down and breed more counterproductive emotions like anger, fear, and resentment among team members.

Some organizations recognize this trickle-down effect. They may even implement training programs to help “fix” their leaders. But if you’ve participated in such a program and never reached a level of sustainable transformation, it’s probably because the training focused on the “external” or “hard” leadership skills, such as how to run efficient meetings, give constructive feedback, and foster a good office culture. Research has shown that, in reality, it’s the inner-focused or “soft” skills that make a real difference. It’s consciousness that’s the essential catalyst for powerful change. 

Unconscious leaders don’t have a marked path for change no matter how many professional development classes they attend because they’re unaware of the mindset with which they lead and how or why to change it.

Conscious leadership

Conscious Leaders

Conscious leaders, on the other hand, drive the “why” behind their decisions and choose the kind of mindset that serves them well in their role. 

These are the leaders who... 

  • Reserve judgment 
  • Create a safe work environment 
  • Show compassion 
  • Deliver clear expectations 
  • Listen and ask great questions 
  • Lead change 
  • Set up high-performance teams 
  • Deliver results
  • Stretch where they see potential
  • Exercise a lifelong commitment to personal growth 

It’s their consciousness that enables them to build trust and authentically link individual and team purposes to company vision and strategy while fostering a purpose-driven, play-together-to-win culture. 

In essence, these are the leaders with the capacity to improve team performance. And with a focus on consciousness, YOU have the power to be one of these leaders. Everything you need to be successful in this way resides within yourself. The trick is understanding how to unlock it.

Attend Our Upcoming Webinar for Leaders Like You

The 5 Crucial Mindset Shifts to Boost Team Performance and Improve Leadership Skills

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The Key to Improving Team Performance

You want what every current or aspiring leader wants: to motivate people to reach their full potential. 

Maybe you struggle to keep your team engaged and productive.

It’s the common rendition of a seemingly never-ending cycle:

You get a project started, afford the team a great deal of your own energy, begin moving them forward, and then after a few days or weeks, you see the energy fizzle out to the point where you’re left picking up the pieces, taking on the brunt of the work and continually pushing deadlines. When another project or goal emerges, the cycle repeats.

It’s no wonder you’d be worried that if you don’t improve your team’s performance, you’ll fall even farther behind. And it’s normal to feel frustrated and annoyed with the people around you, the ones who aren’t giving it their all. But truth be told, blaming others won’t change anything— it’ll only prolong the pain. The real solution lies within YOU.

As individuals, we view the world through filters that are based on our own unique experiences, values, learnings and assumptions. Those filters can either limit what we see (like tunnel vision) or expand what we see (like a prism), thereby impacting how we perceive and what we think about our circumstances. The filters, if left to their own devices, will have the ultimate say in how we show up in each situation and how we lead others to do the same.

So, what’s the key to improving team performance and successfully tapping into people’s potential?

The key to improving team performance

So, what’s the key to improving team performance and successfully tapping into people’s potential?

It’s tapping into your own potential first.

>> Learn how to tap into your own potential in iPEC's Leadership Potentials Training

Once you learn how to understand your own filters and unconscious approaches to leadership, you open up a trove of opportunities to choose more purposeful options and influence others in a more effective way. 

Let’s focus on you then. It’s time to learn how to build your own foundation for conscious leadership.  

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Developing Effective Leadership Skills

Perhaps you’ve read a slew of professional development books, watched some inspiring TED Talks, and even dedicated your morning commute to consuming podcasts about leadership. You’re up to speed on the latest leadership must-do’s—things like setting strategies, tracking goals, pushing professional education, creating a fun office environment, and so on.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently bad about these tactics, but they’re unlikely to be sparking much sustainable change in terms of your ability to tackle the very real professional challenges you face every day. That’s the difference between managing and leading. 

If you have a sense that there’s more to this leadership gig than a roundup of insightful soundbites and team-building exercises, you’re absolutely right. There IS more to it. And the “more” just happens to be the very essence of who you are.

Because it’s all there.

Becoming the leader you want to be

The leader you want to be is already inside you.

But those filters we talked about? They are holding you back from bringing that highly effective leader to the surface. As they do for so many professionals, those filters have you playing small and operating from a place of fear and doubt, a place that leaves no room for opportunity, innovation and creativity.

This means that the most effective leadership skills you can develop are those that involve recognizing your current filters, discarding the ones that impede you, and creating new ones that bring your most powerful leader to light—and then leveraging that awareness and choice to help others do the same. At iPEC, we call this Energy Leadership™.

Inspiring Peak Performance through Energy Leadership™

iPEC’s exclusive Energy Leadership™ process helps you develop a valuable understanding of the distinct energy levels that impact how individuals think and act. With this knowledge and the tools to harness it effectively at your organization, you’re poised to inspire peak performance in yourself and those around you.

Energy Leadership™ supports you in embracing the foundational mindset to more powerfully approach the following skill sets:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Employee relations
  • Motivation
  • Employee engagement
  • Negotiation
  • Accountability
  • Performance Management
  • Confidence-building
  • Team cohesiveness
  • Leadership capacity
  • Relationship-building
  • Time management
  • Decision-making

So step away from the leadership section of your bookshelf and discover what effective Energy Leadership could look like for you.

Learn more about Energy Leadership within our signature Coach Training Program

LEARN MORE

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Discovering Your Leadership Style

High-energy, dynamic leaders often get the spotlight, and maybe your own manager has been urging you to be more forceful. But if that approach doesn’t feel authentic to you, it’s not going to work—at least, not over the long term. It’s more likely to leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by the pressure of it all. 

So, what’s the most effective leadership style? That depends on who you ask.

In many organizations, the primary measure of effectiveness is bottom-line results, period. In today’s changing landscape, however, leadership approaches based strictly on quantitative outcomes are no longer enough. Being an effective leader involves so much more than the highlights on a company’s financial statements and OKR dashboards. Now, it requires a much broader perspective of success for whole teams, communities, and organizations. 

Effective leadership requires the kind of style that produces results by positively and purposefully impacting teams and stakeholders. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. The days of cookie-cutter managers are gone. The blueprint for leadership falls squarely on the shoulders of each individual, based collectively on their own values, strengths, and capacity to coach their teams toward positive outcomes. 

That means your leadership style is unique to you. The only uniform element is the understanding that effective leadership starts from within. 

Therefore, instead of clinging to a non-negotiable “rallying-of-the-troops” type of leadership style, it’s essential to begin seeing yourself as a leader and defining what that means to you. 

Here are some points of consideration to get you started.

Honoring your values as a leader

Honoring Your Values

The time comes for every leader to face an important choice: be true to themselves or play it safe by going with the organizational flow. In such a dilemma, it is critical to connect with your own values. 

Define the guardrails within which you choose to operate, and over which you refuse to jump for the sake of momentary or monetary gain. Determine the basic tenets that you want to live by each and every day. Understand how you demand to live your life. 

Examples of values include those like honesty, authenticity, trust, family, professionalism, service, and competence. Take time to write down the core values by which you desire to abide in your life and leadership style. When you know these parameters and live in alignment with them, it becomes easier to spot and address an agenda that runs counter to your fundamental principles.

identifying your strengths as a leader

Identifying Your Strengths

There are infinite opportunities to criticize and find fault with ourselves, and unfortunately, many of us seize on them habitually. Although it’s valuable to reflect on past experiences and understand how certain engagements netted undesirable outcomes, it’s equally paramount to focus on our natural gifts and talents. 

By starting from a place of strength, we can leverage those areas to address opportunities for development. Rather than continuing to revisit past failures and feelings of inadequacy, focus on the areas in which you excel. Then determine how you can utilize those strengths to generate the outcomes you desire for yourself, your team, and your organization.

Keep in mind that your strengths are unique to you. You do not have to become an aggressive taskmaster or an invulnerable robot to lead a team. What your boss may consider leadership material is not the end-all-be-all definition of a leader. Leaders come in many forms, from quiet and influential to gregarious and commanding. The most effective leadership style for you is the one that holds true to your personal gifts and strengths—not a prescribed caricature of what a leader is supposed to look like. Tap into your distinctive strengths and lead from your true self.

>> Learn how to practically apply your distinctive strengths through the iPEC Coach Training Program

leaning into coaching as a leader

Leaning Into Coaching

While there are times when you are expected to make an autonomous decision, the most effective leaders understand that achieving sustainable success requires the ability to empower, inspire, and engage a team of people who trust and support one another. Rather than adopting a command-and-control approach, effective leaders use coaching to support their teams in making decisions for themselves by using their own wisdom and discernment. 

Now, you might be thinking: I don’t have time for a soft approach. I need results. But that’s the thing—results require the kind of leadership style that doesn’t shy away from emotions. Because again, sustainable transformation begins with a focus on the internal, not the external.

Successful leaders create an environment for their teams to grow, innovate, and learn from past experiences while also holding them accountable for the goals they set. These leaders take time to engage directly with their team members to understand their viewpoints, while acknowledging and validating their perspective out of respect for everyone’s experiences. In essence, they coach.  

The more leaders plug into their capacity to coach, the greater their potential for achieving satisfaction and team productivity over the long term becomes. Starting to see this reality for yourself, but wondering how to put a coaching leadership style into practice? Let’s dive into the details.

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Practicing Effective Leadership Through Coaching

A coaching leadership style requires a willingness to honor the individual energies people bring to work with them every day. And that might sound like a lot of work or a challenge that you’re not quite equipped to handle. 

No question, this isn’t something that can be fixed overnight. It will require an investment of time and attention to develop and practice effective leadership through coaching. But with expert training and support on how to master this practice, you’re open to limitless opportunities for career growth and fulfillment, both for yourself and those with whom you work every day.

What’s missing in so many corporate training programs is a deliberate building of habits that help you exercise that coaching muscle. Without them, it’s easy to revert to your default responses to stress and conflict, which inevitably hold you back from becoming the purposeful and effective leader you desire to be.

Practicing effective leadership

Practicing Effective Leadership

In learning to flex your coaching muscle as the means of practicing effective leadership, you develop the skills and perspective to:

  • Transform workplace culture, attitudes, and morale. Even a small shift in how a person understands and responds to someone else can cause a tremendous ripple effect. Responding to someone’s frustration or difficulty with compassion, instead of annoyance, completely changes the tone of the conversation and allows a solution to be found more easily.

  • Solve underlying problems. Coaching involves asking empowering, open-ended questions that help people identify the limitations—both real and imagined—of their own situation and find the answers that are right and true for them. It’s not about providing advice or solutions based on your knowledge, but rather supporting your team in finding their own. The ability to empower people to solve their own dilemmas and take greater ownership of the process is of immense value in achieving your leadership goals.

  • Identify and achieve goals. This is often the most obvious benefit of coaching, but there’s a lot more to it than assisting with short-term goal setting and achievement. In fact, iPEC graduates are equipped with the skills and techniques to look beyond the “obvious” goal checklist to the thought patterns and emotions underlying an individual’s behavior. By addressing these influences and getting to each person’s core belief system—which strongly influences how they show up in life—leaders have a much greater chance of fostering lasting, sustainable change within their teams.

  • Discover your purpose. In all the noise of day-to-day business, the daydreamer part of our personalities is often buried under the weight of “practicality.” But part of being an effective leader is developing the ability to see endless opportunity and possibility, and helping others make that same intuitive leap. By identifying your higher purpose, you choose the perspective from which you view outcomes for yourself, your team, your company, and even the world.

  • Improve connections and relationships. The basic functionality of our world—and yes, even the world of corporations and organizations—depends on the ability of people to get along with each other. It’s far too easy to let our own values, prejudices, and experiences color our understanding of other people and their situations. Coaching involves stripping away these misconceptions and false lenses in order to allow for clear, open communication. When others are taught these skills and see these behaviors modeled, they tend to share them, creating a more congenial and productive environment for everyone.

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Learning to Lead as a Coach

In order to become an effective leader, improve team performance, and make a meaningful impact in your organization, you’ll need the training to develop a profound understanding of coaching–not merely as a set of skills, but also as a way of being. 

iPEC is uniquely poised to equip you with the training you need to: 

  • Develop a new foundation from which you think and create success
  • Shift your perspective and methodology to one that empowers you as a leader
  • Create a new way of working, leading, and being

The coursework intuitively trains you to engage people, helping them become more productive, happier, and fulfilled. You learn how to inspire and motivate others to do what they previously felt incapable of doing.

“The iPEC coach training program has been a life changing experience. If I were to have a choice between every self-help book, seminar, course, or tape I own, I would have to say this course has been the biggest influence for positive change, multiplied by 100, compared to anything I have tried personally and/or professionally.”
LUANNE M.
iPEC Graduate
“Through iPEC, I learned how to apply coaching techniques to my organization’s leadership development training, helping me cultivate stronger leaders and drive meaningful change.”
PASQUALE BISECCO
iPEC Graduate
“iPEC created a safe and encouraging space for me to have profound personal breakthroughs, which was integral to me learning how to create that same transformational space for others.”
ANDREA KAO
iPEC Graduate
“If iPEC had a magic sauce, it would be composed (or concocted) from this idea of energy. In fact, energy is the common language that graduates learn to speak. And, that’s the language that is changing the world, one conscious choice at a time.”
MICHAEL TIMMES
iPEC Graduate
“When you come out of iPEC training, you have a great skill set to impact people in a larger way.”
DENISE CLELAN
iPEC Graduate

What's Next?

You’ve already taken the first steps of learning about what it really takes to lead your team and improve team performance.

Now commit to becoming an effective leader as a coach. 

Start by requesting an informational session with an iPEC Admissions Coach, using the form below, to discuss your leadership goals and answer all questions you have about coach training and certification.

Take the First Step Forward

Connect with an expert to start a productive conversation about your interest in coaching and your potential for leadership success.