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8 Core Essential Qualities of High Performing Leaders -

8 Core Essential Qualities of High Performing Leaders


What are the essential qualities and characteristics of a high performing leader?

That’s simple to answer isn’t it? No! Not as simple as we think. But aren’t we all leaders on some level, in life, in our roles, our families, for our teams. It seems that high performing leaders are hard to find on the ground. Having spent many years working with leaders in a number of high profile New Zealand corporate organisations and medium sized businesses, I continue to be surprised by the lack of high performing leadership.

Ok, so you might ask, well what makes a high performing leader?

Well, let’s firstly take a quick look at the qualities of a high performing leader…. None other than our very own Rob Fyfe. Here are some excerpts from an article in the NZ Herald published in 2012.

“Rob is an out-of-the-box thinker who truly believes in his work and people, he’s a strong motivator of his team and he has boundless energy and passion,” 

Rob Says, “I’ve largely tried to be as accommodating as I can and we’ve had this philosophy of not being afraid to project some personality. I’ve become more outgoing and prepared to do those things because that’s what the role and the organisation requires.” “If you’re going to be a little edgy and have a bit of personality you’re going to push a few boundaries.

·        So what are the clues in the above excerpts?

·        What qualities and competencies jump out that tell us the characteristics of a High Performing Leader?

Ok, let’s then review the top 8 characteristics showing up in research of a high performing Leader:

Grab a pen and highlight one key characteristic that you’ll consciously start modeling with your team. One that’s going to stretch you!

1.  Influencing and Motivating – A leader must have the ability to get others to act in a desired way. Influencing to generate outcomes through collaboration and motivation always wins with teams. A leader needs to walk their talk, influencing others by modelling behaviors, re-enforcing the appropriate cultural values, motivating and acknowledging great outcomes regularly. A high performing leader influences and gains respect through their actions. So, if you haven’t praised anyone in your team or business today, or even in the last week, do it today. Your task: Rock up to a team member and tell them “how much you value them and what they do that’s so great”!  

2.  Accountability – A leader establishes in their team members a commitment to achieving results by building a culture of accountability. Self accountability is again, modelling to all employees, self responsibility and accountability. A leader understands the impact of accountability and ownership.  Employees grow and develop through being accountable, taking ownership and responsible to deliver on promises.  Always deliver on your promises as a leader. All to often I hear Leaders promise and in some cases seldom follow-through. This results in a loss of trust! Be mindful of what you are willing to promise.  Your task: Reflect on what you have promised to do and have missed your deadline. Have you been realistic on your promise? Who have you promised and do you need to go talk to them”?

3.  Builds Positive Working Relationships – with both stakeholders and employees. A high performing leader actively builds a strong network of working relationships, both internally and externally. A high performing leader fosters and nurtures positive, healthy and productive relationships with honesty, integrity, trust and willingness to share.   Building strong trusting relationships is essential to your success as a high performing leader.   Your Task: What group, team member, customer or network could you approach to start building a stronger working relationship with?

4.  Takes massive action with urgency. Both internal and external customers expectations have changed significantly over the last few years and everyone wants action to take place now! As a leader working with urgency and speed is now becoming a norm. Set the pace and your team will step up to support you to deliver on promises. Delivering with Speed, is now the norm.

5. Bravery – Step out of the box and limiting beliefs….  and STRETCH yourself. If you’ve seen the Air NZ safety video featuring the All Blacks,building up to the Rugby World Cup in 2011, then you’ve seen the elderly lady run naked through the plane.  Rob promised to do the same “run naked” in front of staff before the elderly lady did her naked run.  How far are you willing to step out of your comfort zone as a leader? Your task: What can you do to step out of your comfort zone during the next 5 days? Step out of your BoX!!

6.  Coaches and Mentors for improvements – An high performing leader is always looking for his or her replacement, or an opportunity to build a high performing team around them. Develop your people through coaching or mentoring regularly, ensuring they strive to stretch and perform building on potential for future roles.   A high performing leader will always look for opportunities to stretch their people, acknowledge, encourage and appreciate their team’s strengths. Your Task: Select a team member to sit with and ask him or her : “What motivates them to be here and where do they see themselves in 12 months time?”

7.  Lives and breathes the Values – An high performing leader acts from the values of the business. Continuously talks about the values at meetings, show cases values during road shows and ensure values are part of the communication for both internal and external customers. Values are at the heart of the business and how everyone behaves. A high performing leader lives and breathes the values into the their team. Your task: Review the values and choose one to live and breathe into the workplace for the week.

8.  Innovation – A high performing leader has the courage to make mistakes through innovation and investment. They continually keep up with the latest technology and innovations within their industry and outside of their industry. Innovation will take you to the next level of success! Your task: Talk to your leadership team about bringing innovation into your regular program of work or projects. Who could lead the “innovation stream” in the team or business?


Eloise Tzimas
Leadership Development; Group Coaching, Workshop Facilitation
0800 288 488 (NZ only)


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