IWD 2023: Growing and leading high-performing teams during times of rapid change
The past few years have seen unprecedented levels of change, with the pandemic forcing us to rapidly shift the way we live, work and interact with others and embrace digital technologies in a big way. The pace of change doesn’t appear to be slowing down, with climate, social and economic challenges prompting an even greater shift towards digital efficiencies and encouraging teams to embrace technology to enhance project potential, improve sustainability and remain competitive in the marketplace.
Now more than ever, leaders must ensure they are supporting their teams to learn and adopt digital technologies that can make our lives and our work better, positively impact climate change and social issues such as inequality and drive improved outcomes for our companies too.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve been fortunate to lead and grow marketing and customer service teams, including in my current role at Autodesk Construction Solutions, which is involved in over two million construction projects around the world – including some of the biggest global infrastructure projects. In a world where ongoing disruptions in the business environment are putting significant pressure on marketing departments, customer expectations are rising, and competitors are circling, nurturing high-performing teams is imperative to surviving and thriving.
There are three key principles that I encourage implementing to grow and develop high-performing teams.
1. Foster a growth mindset
There are three types of sustainable growth that I’ve seen organisations go through successfully when embracing change: firstly, organisational growth, in terms of capability, maturity, and customer acquisition; secondly, customer growth, or customers “winning” as a result of doing business with the organisation; and thirdly, people growth, in terms of personal, leadership and career growth, as well as purpose and self-actualisation.
In a book I recently released with Eve Chen and Brett Cowell, Ascending Growth: Improve Customer Value. Drive Business Growth. Elevate Your Career., we called the intersection of these three areas the Growth Experience, or GX view.
What I’ve found time and again is that success in business, first and foremost, comes because of getting the right people aligned and working effectively.
From a leadership perspective, it’s important to encourage individuals in your team to continue to learn and grow so that they can expand within their roles and beyond.
Not only does ongoing learning keep them motivated, but it helps the team to keep pace with the rapid changes and challenges that are happening broadly right now and will most likely continue in future.
2. Develop the team’s culture to drive performance
To perform in an environment of rapid change, where expectations are rising, and companies are required to be more efficient than ever, organisations need to be better aligned, more responsive, and focused on the right things.
In order to achieve this, the culture of your team is critical.
Teams that feel safe in their roles and within the team are more confident to take essential risks required when trying new things and innovating, are more open to collaborate with others and will be more driven to perform.
Some of the ways that I develop my team’s culture include empowering the team to innovate by bringing new ideas through special projects and small improvements (incremental innovation), experimentation and the opportunity to make mistakes.
3. Encourage diversity
We are at an inflection point with technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality and even cryptocurrencies, which are already presenting further business opportunities, ethical challenges, and even social and ecological considerations. Building trust in organisations and their leadership remains an imperative. Environmental and social issues such as climate change, income inequality, and the digital gender gap are pressing.
As the UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 report revealed, and as the theme for International Women’s Day 2023: “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, women’s exclusion from the digital world has shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade – a loss that will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action.
I encourage as much diversity as possible within my team because diversity of gender, ethnicity, background and more creates more diversity of thinking – and this ultimately drives better outcomes both for the team and for the business.
Personally, as a female leader in a male-dominated industry, having a different approach has helped to define and shape my success.
I’ve always approached my thinking by first understanding what drives other stakeholders in the business and being agile in my communication and strategy development. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical here, and if you can get this right, it helps you to be able to challenge the status quo and challenge the way things have been done for 30 or 40 years. This is critical for businesses in a time of rapid change.