One Thing Leaders Need Most to Elevate People Performance

August 29, 2022
1 Thing Leaders Need Most

Prior to the pandemic of 2020 most managers agreed that, keeping employees motivated and engaged was one of the top challenges they faced every day. Since March 2020, the COVID Crisis has made this challenge more difficult than ever!

The good news is that employees continue to show up and they want to succeed at work. 

In addition to this, all managers maintain two important priorities, to be better leaders and for their people to be successful. This blog offers leaders at all levels tips and tools for enhancing leadership effectiveness, elevating employee experiences, and optimizing people performance.

Two Simple Truths

We’ve learned that managers who know their people well, including what’s most meaningful to them at work, have greater success developing those people to perform optimally. 

Another important fact is that employees are the REAL experts. They hold the most accurate knowledge and experience for improving the leadership practice of managers. Employees are closest to the action and have front-row seats as they experience the impact of their manager first-hand, making the employee the absolute best source for assessment and feedback on leadership quality.

Better Engagement, Performance, and Leadership

Few people would disagree with the above points. Employees are experts on what motivates them, and they know the type of leadership qualities they prefer most. 

We all know that quality leadership has a positive and profound impact on employee motivation, engagement, and overall performance. Employee motivation, performance, and leadership effectiveness are inextricably linked. 

It should follow then, that the employee’s experience is the most important resource for improving engagement, motivation, and performance while simultaneously enhancing the leadership capacity of their respective managers. 

The “Experts”

It’s not uncommon for me to talk with leaders about how best to “manage” difficult scenarios and challenging employee performance behaviors. I’m astounded at how many conversations they’ve had with everyone BUT the person they are struggling with!

Too often managers search almost everywhere and seek everyone else’s opinion instead of speaking with their people to learn how to motivate and manage employee performance. In addition to this, most leaders have been taught and are encouraged to seek out experts and various “gurus” to learn about improving leadership quality and effectiveness.

When we stop and think about this, it doesn’t make sense at all!

An Important Reality – Also Known As “A Mic-Drop Moment”

On any given day, if you Google these two searches for resources, “Improve Leadership” and “Improve Employee Engagement”, you will find more than 500 MILLION results! 

Some Important Questions:

  • How many of those articles, papers, posts, or presentations are written by your employees?
  • How many of your team members have produced or presented the inspiring leadership videos you’ve reviewed?
  • How many of your employees have been the “expert” who facilitated the leadership or performance training you’ve attended?
  • How many of the articles and books on improving motivation, engagement, or performance have been written by the people who work for you?

So, of the 500 million results, you are missing the most important resource of them all, your employee’s story. 

It’s important to note, that there are many helpful articles, books, videos, and seminars out there that are exceptionally valuable. However, there is no one perspective that is more important or as accurate than the detailed experience of your employee.

The Real Expert – Go to The Source 

Our ability to successfully develop and influence others, during the good times and the bad, is directly proportional to a clear and accurate understanding of their story. This is something Brivia refers to as the employee’s CORE 4 (needs, values, goals, and strengths).

An employee’s CORE 4 holds the details of their experience and the meaning those experiences have for them. Once leaders tune into the perspectives of their people, they can be more responsive in their approach to support and strengthen the capacity of their people to feel better and do better as they carry out the work.

Tips for Better

The following tips have helped many leaders learn about the most meaningful aspects of their people’s experiences.

1. Observe “Better” with Your People.

At Brivia, we recommend a strengths-based approach. Here are some questions to ask yourself when observing your people:

  • Where are they doing better?
  • Where and when are they engaged and performing well? 

After you observe these moments, try the following questions:

  • What is happening in those times? 
  • What things and people are contributing to those positive and better moments?

2. Be Curious about Most Meaningful.

Prior to finding an article or seeking a guru, check with your people and be curious about what’s meaningful to them. Try the following questions:

  • What aspect of your work are you the most excited about?
  • What aspect of your work do you find the most rewarding?
  • Who do you like to interact with the most and why?
  • Where do you feel you succeed at work?
  • What is one thing you worry about?
  • How can I help you succeed at work?

3. Learn about Leadership Approach Preferences

Be curious and inquire about their leadership preferences. You may not be able to accommodate all preferred leadership qualities. However, you may learn a little about what leadership behaviors are helpful and doable. Try asking the following questions:

  • Can you tell me about the best supervisor or manager you had in the past? What made them so great? 
  • Can you tell me about some past supervisor or manager behaviors that you found were not helpful for you?


Take a moment to think about how you interact with the real experts, your people What is one question from the list above you can start asking now to improve your leadership?

If you are looking to elevate your people’s performance, check out these solutions:

The M3 Employee Experience Measurement Tool

The Core Leader Score (CLS)

Stephen de Groot is the President and Co-Founder of Brivia.
He is the author of Responsive Leadership (Sage Publication, 2016) and Chief Architect of The CORE Algorithm: A Dynamic Framework for Optimizing Human Potential, Performance, and Perseverance.

Learn more about Stephen de Groot and his work.

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