Leadership and high performing teams


1st July 2021

Leadership is all about behaviour. That message came across loud and clear from the excellent informative webinar that Blake Morgan hosted with Roderic Yapp.

Creating high performing teams – are you a balanced leader?

As part of our Investing in Success business forum, Roderic spoke about creating high performing teams and being a balanced leader in the session on 23 June.

It was not a surprise that Roderic’s experience and skills shone through during the session. You can listen again here. He is an accredited coach and a specialist in developing resilience and leadership skills. As a Director at Harlequins Business Academy and Founder of Leadership Forces, he brought together the worlds of professional sport and the Marines to deliver an inspirational presentation

The webinar was a big hit with over 200 people attending live and lots of positive feedback, including:

This was one of the most well thought through, easy to relate to and informative leadership seminars I have ever been to. Having a leader from a different sector helped to give a different perspective and an opportunity to step back and stock take on how things could be approached differently.

Early lessons on leadership

  • Decisions made under pressure are never perfect
  • Do not hold someone to account for an outcome they could not control
  • Leaders show themselves when the chips are down

From his time in the Royal Marines, Roderic was quick to pick up on leadership skills, recognising that you can’t always control the outcome, you can only ever control the decision making process. When outcomes are out of your control, you shouldn’t hold people to account for them. Blaming poor decisions made under pressure won’t make people make better decisions – it will stop them from making decisions at all. A dangerous trait to have in the heat of battle, or even in business.

Leadership, behaviour and context

If you are the kind of leader that has been there for your people, no matter the situation, you will build a bond with your team. As a leader, if you build a bond with people, that is going to make a huge difference for you. Your team will run through brick walls for you.

Leaders need to understand the context of situations. The context will shape the way you need to behave. There will be a need to empower people and there will be a need to take control. Understanding where to be on the ‘spectrum of leadership’ is crucial. There will be times when you need to challenge and other occasions when support is required. Times to be decisive, and times which are a coaching opportunity. Different people need different approaches as well which is why leaders need a spectrum of responses:

  • Centralised control – Devolved responsibility
  • Confidence – Humility
  • Challenging – Supportive
  • Standards and process – Creative and innovative
  • Big picture – In the detail
  • Empathetic – Callous

Leaders also need to be adaptable – look at context then chose different ways of behaving. A tradesman would chose different tools for different jobs and a leader needs to do the same with ways of behaving to generate the best result for the individuals involved, themselves and the organisation.

There are certain foundations that a leader must have, to hear more about the real life examples, you can listen again to the webinar here.

  • Self-awareness – if lacked, you are unable to grasp the impact of your behaviour. Ask for feedback.
  • Understand the context – what have you been told to do? Who are your stakeholders? What is the current situation?
  • Create clarity – a clear vision that everyone is behind.
  • Be decisive – what are have you got on your plate? Be clear about what you are not able to do.
  • Two-way accountability – leadership is a form of partnership. Give your team the tools to grow.
  • Strong relationships – you should want to work together.

Roderic gave the example of the Gallagher Premiership Play-off semi-final triumph for Harlequins. The club are not blessed with a limitless budget but know that Joe Marler is a very committed family man and wasn’t going to miss the birth of his daughter. They took the decision to fly him out by helicopter to the match to ensure that he was able to be there for his family and also deliver his best for the team. It paid off with a stunning victory and great performance from the Quins forward, paving the way to them winning the 2021 Premiership title.

Another sporting example came from the New Zealand team who took time to reflect on the perceived failings of their 2003 and 2007 World Cup bids. They thought they tightened up when the score went against them and focused on the outcome rather than being in the moment and concentrating on the next pass, scrum or kick. The result of this was that the All Blacks won the next two World Cups.

Roderic is co-authoring a new book with Tim McEwan, ‘The Balanced Leader’ which is published on 30 November 2021. It will expand on some of the themes he covered in this webinar. If you are interested in updates and finding out more ahead of its publication, please connect with Roderic on LinkedIn.

Find out more about our Investing in Success forum here and sign up to hear about future events first by joining the forum.

Roderic Yapp speaking about leadership from his time in the Royal Marines.

Roderic Yapp speaking about leadership from his time in the Royal Marines.

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