Is your team talk creating high performance?

Is the talk in your team creating high performance?

Have you ever heard someone say: “Talk is cheap”?

Well, nothing is further from the truth!

Talk is one of the most powerful capabilities we have to create and make things happen!

For example, when a Rabbi or Priest says: “I now pronounce you man and wife,” that creates a real new reality. When a judge says: “You have been found guilty!” or “You are innocent!” that pronouncement also changes someone’s life.

For example, when a Rabbi or Priest says: “I now pronounce you man and wife,” that creates a real new reality. When a judge says: “You have been found guilty!” or “You are innocent!” that pronouncement also changes someone’s life.

But, there are so many simple day-to-day examples that show the power of words. When you say something negative like: “This sucks…” or “I’ll never succeed at this…” or “I can’t do this because of them…” this determines your outlook, behaviors and mood too. It makes you smaller than your circumstances.

However, when you say something positive and empowering like: “You can count on me to get this done…” or “Let’s figure out how to overcome this obstacle…” or “Thank you for doing your best to help me…” it creates a much more powerful disposition and makes you bigger than your obstacles.

The great thing about talk is that we all do it all the time, and we have total control over how we express ourselves. We can talk in a constructive way or destructive way.

So, how do you use this powerful capability most effectively to elevate yourself and your team?

At a personal level, you start by paying greater attention to what comes out of your mouth. Most people don’t have strong awareness in this area. They often express negative and undermining opinions and views about areas that are important to them as if these are undisputed facts. The consequence is: loss of possibilities and ability to shape or change their situation and future.

When you consider the effect of conversations in a team setting, the impact and opportunities are so much greater. In fact, you can use team conversations as the lever to elevate your team to higher performance.

How do you do that?

A CEO I am working with asked me once the question:

Do I need to have all my Leadership Team members 100% aligned and owning the future in order for this team to be a high performance team?

My answer was clear “If you want High Performance, then Yes!”

Committed and aligned people think and talk differently about their circumstances, challenges and opportunities than uncommitted people. The former quickly take ownership, get energized, step up and rally others to collaborate around the issues. The latter complain, get discouraged and blame others or circumstances for their problems.

Committed people don’t cover their behinds when things don’t work, they don’t let their ego’s get in their way, and they do not indulge in blame, fault or victim-type conversations. No matter how challenging things are, they only tolerate conversations that make a difference and focus on moving their vision forward.

When an entire team is negative you can be sure to have a very toxic, suffocating and unproductive environment.

If half of the team talks in a negative, undermining or ineffective way and the other half in a positive, empowering and effective way the overall effect may be neutral. However, there would be nothing extraordinary or high performing about that team. Status quo leads people to play it safe. People say the right things but avoid rocking the boat and behave in ways that are comfortable but lack power and impact.

In contrast, when everyone talks in the same positive, empowering and effective way you will experience a different level of collective power.

If you keep that focus going over time, you will reach a tipping point of high performance.

So, if you want to create a high performance dynamic in your team make sure everyone talks in the same powerful way. Powerful requires rigor and discipline. Make sure commitments, timelines and expectations are clear. And, make sure people hold each other to account for their commitments.

And, don’t be fooled by appearances. People often say the right politically correct things in public and then they pay lip service to their pronouncements in their actions.

Pay attention to what people actually do and how they speak behind the scenes. The informal chatter is often more reflective of how people really feel. It is also more instrumental in shaping your team culture, for good or bad.

Hold people to account for speaking and acting consistently with their vision and commitment. In fact, encourage everyone to do the same. This way you will be creating a culture of honest, courageous, deliberate and direct communication.

Taking stock of how your team members express themselves is half the battle. Once you have awareness of how people talk about the important things, you can start coaching and influencing them to talk more effectively.

For example: by changing the talk in the team from “why we can’t…” to “how can we…” you will start changing the attitude and culture of your team.

If you take an honest look at your own team environment – what do you see? How do people around you talk about the things that are important to them?

Founder and President of Quantum Performance Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in generating total alignment and engagement in organizations.

His work has encompassed a broad range of industries including banking, telecommunications, manufacturing, entertainment, real estate, retail, startups and non-profits.

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