To create and inspire high-performance teams to achieve sustainable results over and over, you have to understand what characteristics set them apart. You need to know what makes a high-performance team tick, and how to influence, lead, and empower each member individually - as well as the team as a unit.
We’ve got 5 main traits of a high-performing team that you can use as guides as you grow and cultivate the peak performing team of your teams. Always pay attention to these levels in your team and how they show up in day-to-day life.
Once you understand them, you can begin to implement the right habits to foster greatness and leverage the areas that are already succeeding.
The 5 characteristics of a high performing team:
- Drive. When people crave success and achievement, they are driven to do the work. Driven teams often set regular goals. They take initiative and hunger to make contributions. They often collaborate more with shared goals and thrive on producing results. Pay attention to what motivates and drives your team to achievement, and how you can help them realize their goals.
- Confidence. When people have confidence in themselves and in their abilities, they are willing to take risks - which results in innovation and learning. High-performing teams understand that failure is a part of the journey to achieve success - so they don’t fear it. Pay attention to the team's confidence levels and how open they are to new and unique ideas. Cultivate a sense of safety that rewards that creative thinking and doesn’t punish failure.
- Learning. The best teams thrive on learning. A culture of learning creates more solutions and problem-solving traits. Teams with high learning desires often have regular meetings to collaborate and learn from each other. They will often seek out training or development opportunities to expand their skill set. And they care about their career path and are supported in their future. Note what your team wants to learn about, and how you can support them in becoming experts in their field.
- Communication. A strong team has effective communication ingrained in everyone. Poor communication (misunderstandings, anger, or vagueness) can do a lot of damage - perhaps even turning staff against each other. So high performing teams take a lot of care and attention to ensure they are clear, kind, and open when communicating with each other. Make sure you are the first example of good communication in a team, and regularly check in with people to see how they feel about communication amongst the team.
- Accountability. Strong team members have a personal sense of accountability, as well as a shared sense of responsibility for the team. They admit their mistakes and are more willing to improve. Again, you’re the first example of accountability in the environment. Be willing to admit when you’re wrong, take responsibility for your mistakes, and don't’ hold grudges against others.
Sound like a dream team? It is - and it’s achievable for you. While we encourage you to pay attention to these 5 traits regularly - we’ve got a bonus of three actions you can start taking today that will help steer your team in a more positive direction.
The three things you can start today:
- Start Building Trust. Individuals perform better in an environment where they feel safe, supported, and valued. You can begin to create this culture by addressing any current concerns they have. By asking for (and genuinely listening to) honest feedback. And sharing honest appreciation for their involvement. Trust doesn’t change overnight, but these small actions can be done daily to foster a trusting relationship between people.
- Live Your Values. Individuals on a high-performing team must be on the same page regarding vision, values, expectations, and goals. But this culture has to start with you. Not only do you need to communicate these traits - you need to display them first. Make a point to demonstrate how your actions align with your values each chance you get.
- Ditch the Hierarchy. Research shows time and again that traditional top-down approaches and micromanagement style leaders lead to poor cooperation and stunted performance. Instead, create a dynamic where all individuals have opportunities to lead when they want to. Include team members in decision-making. Create a collaborative session where everyone can participate and help each other. Allow individuals to raise concerns and possible solutions to issues they care about. Doing this helps create a sense of ownership and shared responsibility, which will help cultivate more performance.
Once you understand the qualities that make teams outperform others, you can nurture and develop them. Implement these habits to increase the cohesion of the team, and work through the challenges that are holding you back.