6 Keys to Getting Staff to Perform at their Best

This article is about how we, as nonprofit leaders, can ensure staff perform at their best. Leadership is fundamentally about facilitating performance, getting others to do their best, and to do their work effectively and efficiently. One of the most robust, consistent findings in the social sciences is that there is a direct link between the way people feel and the way people perform. As such, leaders need to be skilled at identifying, understanding, and influencing emotion within themselves and others to inspire performance.

Inspiring Staff to Perform at Their Best

Emotionally intelligent leadership is about leaders intelligently using emotions to facilitate high performance in themselves and others. The Genos model of emotionally intelligent leadership has been developed from over a decade of research work examining how effective leaders use emotional intelligence abilities in their leadership of others. The model comprises six emotionally intelligent workplace competencies. These competencies represent skills and behaviors based on underlying abilities and experiences that are measurable, observable, and critical to successful job performance.

The six Genos EI Competencies are:

  1.  Self-Awareness
  2.  Awareness of Others
  3.  Authenticity
  4.  Emotional Reasoning
  5.  Self-Management
  6.  Inspiring Performance

Leader Self-Awareness and Staff Performance

Self-awareness is about being aware of the behaviors you demonstrate, your strengths and limitations, and the impact you have on others. Leaders high in this skill are often said to be present rather than disconnected with who they are.

Self-awareness is important in leadership because a leader’s behavior can positively or negatively impact the performance and engagement of colleagues. Leaders need to know their strengths and limitations in order to continuously improve and maintain success. Also, leaders’ interpretation of events at work is both made by, and limited by, their intelligence, personality, values, and beliefs, In addition, to objectively evaluate events, leaders must know how they interpret the world and how this helps and limits them.

Leader Awareness of Others and Staff Performance

Awareness of others is about noticing and acknowledging others, ensuring others feel valued, and adjusting your leadership style to best fit with others. Leaders high in this skill are often described as empathetic rather than insensitive to others and their feelings.

Awareness of others is important in leadership because the way others feel is directly linked to the way they perform The skill enables leaders to take effective steps to influence and facilitate others’ performance. And, to get the best out of people, leaders need to adjust their leadership style to best fit with the people and situation they are leading.

Leader Authenticity and Staff Performance

Authenticity is about openly and effectively expressing yourself, honoring commitments and encouraging this behavior in others. It involves appropriately expressing specific feelings at work, such as happiness and frustration, providing feedback to colleagues about the way you feel, and expressing emotions at the right time, to the right degree and to the right people. Leaders high in this skill are often described as genuine, whereas leaders low in this skill are often described as untrustworthy.

Authenticity is important in leadership because it helps leaders create understanding, openness and feelings of trust in others. Leaders who are guarded, avoid conflict, or are inappropriately blunt about the way they feel can create mistrust, artificial harmony, and misunderstandings with those around them. Leaders also need their people to be open with them. If, as a leader, you do not role-model this behavior, your direct reports will be guarded with you.

Leader Emotional Reasoning and Staff Performance

Emotional reasoning is the skill of using emotional information (from yourself and others) and combining it with other facts and information when decision-making. Leaders high in this skill make expansive decisions, whereas leaders who are low in this skill often make more limited decisions based on facts and technical data only.

Emotional reasoning is important in leadership because feelings and emotions contain important information. For example, if a colleague is demonstrating frustration or stress, these feelings provide insight that they are going to be less open and supportive of new ideas and information. The workplace is becoming more complex and fast-paced. This requires quick, good decision-making where all the facts and technical data are not available. Gut feel and intuition are important in these environments. In addition, people are influenced by emotion. If you fail to consider how people are likely to feel and react to decisions made, you may not achieve the appropriate buy-in or support for your decisions.

Leader Self-Management and Staff Performance

Self-management is about managing your own mood and emotions, time, and behavior and continuously improving yourself. This emotionally intelligent leadership competency is particularly important. Leaders high in this skill are often described as resilient rather than temperamental in the workplace. The modern workplace is one of high work demands and stress, which can cause negative emotions and outcomes.

Self-management is important in leadership because a leader’s mood can be very infectious and can, therefore, be a powerful force in the workplace, one that can be both productive and unproductive. This skill helps leaders be resilient and manage high work demands and stress. And to achieve, maintain and enhance success, leaders need to pay conscious attention to the way they manage time, how they behave, and continuously improve how they lead others.

Leader Inspiration and Staff Performance

An individual’s performance can be managed with key performance indicators. However, research has shown that this “compliance” style often fails to drive discretionary effort and high performance. Leaders who combine this with a more inspiring style often empower others to perform above and beyond what is expected of them.

Inspiring performance is important in leadership because leadership is fundamentally about facilitating the performance of others. Managing performance solely through rules and key performance indicators usually produces an “expected” result rather than an “unexpected” high-performance result. People often learn and develop more with an inspiring type of leadership style, resulting in continuous enhancements to performance year on year.

Developing Emotional Intelligence Competencies

As leaders, developing these six core competencies of can positively impact productivity, performance, decision making, culture, customer service, and team building. If you’d like to learn more about how you can develop your emotional intelligence or assist the leaders in your organization to become more emotionally intelligent, visit  

About the Author

Aaron Chavis, MPA is an executive coach and a certified emotional intelligence practitioner with Genos International.  He provides emotional intelligence assessments and development solutions to leaders and executives in the nonprofit space. He can be found at  or [email protected].

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