Leadership Information

Lead People...Manage Things

Master The Five Key Facets of High Performance Leadership

Many people in leadership positions struggle with understanding what makes a great leader. While billions of dollars are spent annually on leadership development, quality leadership is still in short supply.

Organizations have responded to the demand for high performance leadership with myriads of education and training programs and resources, which seem to be plentiful,...Amazon.com has over 9,000 references on leadership...yet most organized attempts at developing high performance leaders fail to achieve their aims.

So what does work?

In working with leaders we have isolated five key characteristics that successful leaders demonstrate. These work extremely well in all settings, be it governmental, non-profit or for-profit commercial. These five key facets of high performance leadership are universal.

They are easy to remember using the acronym FACET. Here they are...

Focus - Authenticity - Courage - Empathy - Timing


Effective leaders stay focused on the outcomes they wish to create, and don't get too married to the methods used to achieve them. They provide this 'outcomes focus' for their organization by emphasizing the mission, vision, values and strategic goals of their organization and at the same time building the capacity of their organizations to achieve them. This capacity building emphasizes the need to be flexible, creative and innovative and avoid becoming fossilized through the adoption of bureaucratic structures, policies and processes.


Leaders who are authentic attract followers, even leaders who are viewed as being highly driven and difficult to work for. Simply put, they are viewed as always being themselves?and therefore followers know what to expect from them and can rely on them, come thick or thin. Authenticity provides the leader with the currency to obtain 'buy-in' from key stakeholders, because it builds and maintains trust. Authenticity is the bedrock upon which the other facets are built.


The challenges facing leaders today are immense, and require great courage to overcome. Leaders are constantly being challenged by others, be it their own team, customers, the public or other stakeholders. Standing firm in the face of criticism, yet having the courage to admit when they are wrong, are hallmarks of courageous leaders. For example, shifting an organization from being introspective to becoming customer focused requires courage when people pay lip service to the new direction...it means calling people on their bluff.


Effective leaders know how to listen empathetically?thus legitimizing others' input. By doing so, they promote consensus building, and build strong teams. They coach others to do the same, and so create a culture of inclusiveness. They tend to be great listeners who capitalize on the ideas of others, and provide recognition for these ideas, yet they don't get bogged down in overly complicated dialogue. While they create learning organizations that place a high value on dialogue and continuous feedback, they know when to take action, when to 'fish or cut bait', which brings us on to the final facet...


The one facet that can make or break a leader is in knowing when to make critical decisions and when not to. All of the other facets must be viewed as subservient to getting the timing of critical decisions right. There is a need to be focused, authentic, courageous and empathetic, but get the timing wrong on critical decisions and everything else stands to be nullified. Great leaders move with appropriate speed. They don't believe that everything must be done immediately...they know how to prioritize, and how to get their team to prioritize. As well, they engage in timely follow-through to ensure actions that are committed to happen in a well coordinated and timely way. They use time as an ally.

Is that all it takes to be a great leader?

These facets of high performance leadership are not exhaustive. Just as one would look at the facets of a diamond, upon closer observation other facets become observable. Any person can aspire to being a great leader by commencing with these facets. If you are in a leadership role, regardless of your position in your organization, start by asking yourself the following key questions:

Key Questions

How focused am I? How much of my time do I spend communicating and inspiring people about our mission, vision, values and strategic goals? How much focus do I create in my organization? How married am I/my organization to methods that have outlived their usefulness?

Am I viewed as authentic? Do people see and hear the real me? Do I wear a mask at work, and remove it when I leave each evening?

How courageous am I when my values, vision and goals are challenged? Do I stand firm and only change my position when I know that I am wrong? Do I have my team identify what they need to STOP doing, what they need to START doing and what they need to CONTINUE doing to achieve our focus?

How empathetic am I? Too much/too little? Do I create enough opportunities for open and candid dialogue? Do I ever find myself and my team getting bogged down in consensus building, or achieving false consensus? Is there a feeling of inclusiveness amongst the members of my team and throughout our organization, and with other stakeholders, including customers?

Do I make and execute decisions in a timely fashion? Do I know when to 'fish or cut bait?' - do I demand well coordinated and timely execution of strategy from others? Do I use time as an ally?

What you can do to create a high performance leadership culture...

Asking these questions in a candid way will open up many possibilities for you, your organization or your clients...if you have the courage as a leader to do it.

Building and sustaining a high performance leadership culture takes time, patience and a clear focus on the vital few characteristics that leaders can develop naturally and authentically. Listening to what people expect from you as a leader, and then responding empathically, in a timely fashion, will move you dramatically towards mastering these five key facets of high performance leadership.

Above all, you need to TAKE ACTION.

About The Author

Brian Ward is a Principal in Affinity Consulting. He works with senior and middle management and their teams to improve performance. His website is at http://www.affinitymc.com where you can sign up for his free monthly ezine Strategy in Action




Leadership: Stupid Is As Stupid Does
I have long held to the belief that leadership exists to disrupt mediocrity. However my observation is that many in positions of leadership tend to protect the status quo (mediocrity's best friend) at all costs. The best path forward for any ...

Sydney Morning Herald

John Robertson's leadership of NSW Opposition shaky: MPs
Sydney Morning Herald
NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson is under pressure to resign, as MPs and officials canvass support for rivals after revelations Mr Robertson wrote a letter conveying a request from Man Haron Monis, the gunman behind the Sydney siege. Momentum ...
Labor eyes leadership changeThe Australian (blog)

all 271 news articles »

The Guardian

Theresa May warned Tory leadership chances at risk from advisers' infighting
The Guardian
The Tory source spoke out after Kenneth Clarke blew into the open a spat between the Conservative leadership and the home secretary's team after two of May's special advisers declined to take part in telephone canvassing in the recent Rochester and ...
Theresa May urged to reign in her special advisers to protect Tory leadership ...International Business Times UK

all 25 news articles »

Jerusalem Post

Jailed Fatah leader Barghouti blasts Palestinian leadership for UN draft ...
Jerusalem Post
They also claim that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not present the draft resolution to leaders of the PLO and Fatah before it was brought to the Security Council. Moreover, they criticized the PA leadership for failing to set a date ...
Jailed Fatah leader criticizes UN resolution on PalestineMa'an News Agency

all 7 news articles »

The Recorder

Andrews lauds Potee, Hebble for leadership on Opioid Task Force
The Recorder
Outgoing state Rep. Denise Andrews, recently recognized the contributions and leadership of Dr. Ruth Potee, co-chair of the regional Opioid Task Force Health Care Solutions Committee and Marisa Hebble, the Task Force coordinator, in fighting opioid ...

Nelson showing leadership early on
Comcast SportsNet New England (blog)
And with head coach Brad Stevens indicating that he had no immediate plans to name a replacement captain, it's open season inside the locker room in terms of leadership. "They were very receptive," Nelson said. "Some of those guys probably watched me ...

and more »

Reuters UK

Analysis - New leadership seeks to rebuild EU self-confidence
Reuters UK
Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who took over the chairmanship of the 28-nation European Council this month, put his briskly opinionated stamp on the meeting of EU leaders, sending them home a day early after a show of unity and purpose.

and more »

Greta: Where is the leadership on future cyber attacks? AWOL
Fox News
Let's go "Off the Record" for a minute. When is the next cyber attack? Our nuclear power plants, banking system, air traffic control ... how about power grids? We're very vulnerable. Blame the president and blame Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But ...

and more »

House Speaker Armstead fills out leadership posts
West Virginia MetroNews
Incoming House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) has firmed up his leadership team for the coming session. Here's the breakdown. (Editor's note: I detailed some of these positions in an earlier commentary, but here is the complete list).


4 leadership lessons you can learn from Santa
Innovation is always good, but not every change is necessary for the sake of changing. Some changes can pull you away from the very goal that you wanted from the very start. Great leaders always go back to the organization's “True North” which refers ...

and more »

Google News

Article List | Index | Site Map
All logos, trademarks and articles on this site are property and copyright of their respective owner(s).
The comments are property of their posters, all the rest is Copyright © 2006 CanadaSEEK.com - All Rights Reserved.