5 Characteristics for High Performance Teams

The impact of ineffective leadership can be severe for your team’s performance.

Organizations need to be consistent, responsive and innovative when faced with complex business and social challenges. The most effective are those who embrace great team leadership as an essential component to their goal achievement.

High-performing teams are made up of individuals with specialized expertise and complementary strengths and skills, are goal-oriented, and extremely committed to achieving clear, outstanding results. They work together, apply problem-solving skills, demonstrate emotional maturity, they have excellent communication skills, and evolve to produce work at the highest level.

Building a high-performing team requires more than just honing talents and skills. It requires careful development and maturing of key traits, behaviours, and best practices.

 

This pyramid covers the 5 Principles of a High-Performing Team. It’s based on the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by P. Lencioni.

Now the mistake is – most leaders are trying to build a high-performing team upside down.

The five dysfunctions are stacked in a pyramid and hierarchical, similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Without building a strong foundation underneath, higher-level goal attainment isn’t possible.

LEVEL 1: TRUST

This happens when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with each other and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses, or their for need help. Without a certain level of comfort among team members, a foundation of trust is not possible.

We start with the foundational element of a high-performing team. Unfortunately, it can also be the trickiest to master.

Set a good example by asking for help from your team members, admit your own weaknesses and limitations, and you will be the first to own up to a mistake. When you lead, others follow. Gradually, these habits will become cultural and the team will begin to build the first brick in the pyramid – trust.

LEVEL 2: HEALTHY CONFLICT

Teams without trust are incapable of engaging in productive, enthusiastic debate about key issues, causing situations where group conflict can easily veil discussions and foster subgroups where comments go on behind the group framework.

In a work setting where team members do not openly express their opinions, a lot of very valuable time is wasted, resulting in uninformed and poor decisions.

Once we’ve created trust, we can build onto the pyramid with healthy conflict. Your team should be able to bring ideas to the table, challenge you and each other, and have healthy debates.

LEVEL 3: COMMITMENT

Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to decide to make decisions, creating an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, especially star employees, dissatisfied and disengaged.

By making space for your team to offer their opinions (and to challenge them!), you’re increasing the likelihood that they’ll commit to decisions made.

We all like to have a say.

LEVEL 4: ACCOUNTABILITY

The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding each other accountable for their behaviour and performance.

When teams are not committed to a clear plan of action, even the most committed and motivated individuals are hesitant to call out their peers on unproductive actions and behaviours. 

With accountability team members have the confidence to challenge one another and know it is not a personal attack.

LEVEL 5: RESULTS

When teams have a solid foundation of trust, healthy conflict, team commitment, and responsibility and are recognized within the company for performance through praise or reward, it is easier for team members to set aside their own needs for the sake of the team. With these solutions, teams can maintain top performers, build effective models, handle failure with resilience and stay focused.

When your team is aligned on steps 1-4 goal attainment is a natural outcome.

Now as we have unpacked the stages it’s easy to see that when you are only result-focused you’re setting yourself and the team up to fail!

A solid foundation of trust, healthy conflict, commitment, and accountability prevents that wild ride of disappointment, and builds a team that actually works well together.

5 truths for team success:

    1. Building TRUST requires vulnerability
    2. Develop HEALTHY CONFLICT through candid debate.
    3. COMMITMENT results in conflict resolution and the emergence of one voice.
    4. ACCOUNTABILITY  means 100% buy-in.
    5. Acknowledge the collective and individual contribution for the best RESULTS