High-performing tech teams usually have highly qualified team members who seamlessly collaborate, innovate, and produce at high capacity. Tech leaders with exceptional leadership capabilities typically guide and support these teams to consistently generate solutions and drive business outcomes that meet or exceed expectations.
Leading high-performers in challenging times
That’s the ideal state, the aspirational set up, if you will. In reality, today’s tech leaders — especially new tech leaders — face real challenges trying to create that optimal scenario because it’s tough to lead their teams effectively amidst constant change, especially with minimal or no executive guidance. To add another layer of complexity, many tech leaders are technically competent but lack essential leadership capabilities. Absent these capabilities, any existing leadership gap becomes more pronounced over time, resulting in the following consequences:
- Teams have a lack of confidence or distrust in leadership
- A lack of team development
- Low team morale
- Decreased productivity
- Teams perform below potential
- Missed targets
- Frustrated, disengaged teams and leaders
Addressing and avoiding these negative results requires tech leaders to focus on identifying desired business outcomes and measuring impact. Deloitte’s 2020 report, “Virtual enablement through high-performing virtual teams and leaders,” explains that the highest performing technology teams are guided and supported by leaders who are dedicated to bringing out the best in each team member. These teams develop a ‘test and learn’ approach not unlike that found in user experience design. Thus they can reinvent themselves through iterative and incremental changes by focusing on the following top priorities:
- Rapid decision-making and extreme prioritization that delivers on strategic intent
- Execution built on trust to empower high-performing teams
- Employee well-being and bringing team members’ whole selves to work
What separates high-performers from other teams?
In Gartner’s 2022 article “The New Art of Building High-Performing Teams,” Daniel Sanchez Reina highlights seven characteristics that differentiate high-performing teams in today’s working environment. They are:
- A common culture
- Shared meaningful and impactful work
- Decision-making that’s decentralized
- Seamless communication
- A future-focused mindset
But tech leaders have to be capable of building and leading high-performing teams to instill these seven characteristics. These capabilities are not always naturally available. Fortunately, this type of development can be accomplished successfully with leadership coaching. Coaching is a proven development strategy that has a positive impact on the individual being coached, and their team.
How can tech leaders build and lead high-performing teams?
In addition to attracting, training, and retaining the right tech talent, we’ve identified these 6 ways tech leaders can effectively lead high-performing teams.
- Set standards for group performance, group problem-solving, and decision-making.
- Create an open environment to give and receive constructive feedback.
- Delegate responsibilities equitably, and play to people’s strengths.
- Measure progress and performance by creating effective metrics.
- Collaboratively resolve team differences and tensions.
- Create psychological safety in the workplace.
Tech leaders need to model leadership behaviors, according to Deloitte’s 2020 report, while companies must invest in leadership development focused on the capabilities central to their desired business outcomes. Leadership coaching can accomplish both.
Focus high-performing teams on delivering the right outcomes
Companies and their tech leaders bear the complex burden of constant change, competition, the need for results, and continuous stress. To maintain their competitive edge within this context, senior talent leaders must respond to these demands strategically by developing tech leaders who are competent in technology and can maintain a human touch in their work.
Ensuring tech leaders have the foundational leadership capabilities and behaviors needed to create and sustain high-performing teams takes time. It starts by creating a culture of shared values. A technology culture should emphasize digital transformation in a people-centric environment. It should deliver business impact throughout every initiative, and develop tech leaders who lead with empathy and create a sense of belonging.
Develop leadership capabilities focused on outcomes
The ability to harness the power of high-performing teams is often a key signal by which to identify great leaders operating with strategic intent. Senior talent leaders can play a pivotal role in helping tech leaders gain the following capabilities necessary to lead high-performing teams:
- Developing others
- Conflict management and resolution
- Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion
Leadership coaching equips leaders with the capabilities they need to engage meaningfully, address challenges, and connect with the people they lead. With the right programmatic and technological coaching support, they can develop these capabilities in a way that’s adaptable to their organization, data-driven, and scalable.
With leadership coaching, even new tech leaders with limited experience can begin to make genuine connections with others. This type of development ensures that tech leaders will be better prepared to hire, develop, and retain the right talent, and they can be equipped to transform individual team members into high-performers focused on optimal performance, building a supportive culture, and their organization’s bottom line.
Moira Alexander is a freelancer for Sounding Board, a tech-enabled leadership coaching company designed to bridge the leadership gap. She is also the founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, a digital content creation and marketing services company, and a certified project management and IT professional.