How to Build a High Performing Team

The key to building a high-performance team seems like a daunting task when thinking about it and it is easy to overlook the obvious answer – team leadership.

While there may be many compelling psychological and self-help theories that encourage ways to help a team grow, thrive and become responsible for their individual roles, it is easy to get lost in translation when looking at it from a micro level. So, let’s take a step back to review it from a macro level starting with the team leader.

Team leadership

We can all agree that being a team leader is not simply about being in charge of a group of people. It doesn’t mean that where you lead others will necessarily follow you. It’s a bit more nuanced. It requires a collective understanding of the team and the leader so they can support each other to grow and develop together (this includes the business and brand). A team leader cannot grow without the support of a fully functional team and the team cannot grow without the support of the leader and accountability.

How to lead and when to follow

Every individual on the team can lead. When an individual is aware of what they are accountable for and takes full responsibility, they organically develop a leadership quality that can be nurtured as their capability and accountability increases. A Team Leaders key role is to support the team to develop their strengths, capabilities so they can grow their accountabilities and reach their full potential.

So, when do you lead? The answer to this question is simple: every time you’re given a task, it is your job to own it because everything that you do is a catalyst to the team’s success. That said, team members should be able to handle any task thrown their way and when it is something they are unfamiliar with, asking for guidance is part of the responsibility that comes with it.

In order to foster a high-performance team, it is the leader’s responsibility to grow the collective team strengths and capabilities and the key for doing this is to delegate accountabilities that provide stretch alongside support.

We’ve created a list of key components that contribute towards a team’s success.

5 steps to building high performance teams

1. Clarity

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities will allow the team leader to delegate specific accountabilities and expectations to each person based on their confidence and capabilities. This will drive greater results, focus and motivation among the team.

2. Open-mindedness, trust and respect

As a leader, it is important to access and develop the talent of each individual. Encouraging all members of the team to participate and support each other will cultivate trust and respect. Creating a supportive environment will encourage team members to share their ideas, be open about their vulnerabilities and be willing to experiment and try new things out without the fear of blame.

3. Regular check-in’s

Check in with your team members on a regular basis to ensure that you have your finger on the pulse regarding their mental and emotional capacity. When you check-in rather than check-up on a team member, you allow them to be open about their challenges and successes. When you check-up on a team member it might feel like you’re monitoring everything that they’re doing and it may result in them shutting down or perhaps they withdraw when they feel that they don’t have any successes to ‘report’. In the end, team leaders who have a micromanagement ‘leadership style’ tend to instil a sense of fear of failure among the team impacting on their levels of engagement, energy and ideas.

4. Support

The best leaders find just the right balance between creating a bit of stretch and support for individuals. They create a safe and supportive environment for the team, helping individuals to build their confidence to increase their capabilities and grow the range and depth of their accountabilities. Don’t hesitate to ask the hard questions or talk about how they’re feeling. Support comes in many forms, including articulating your expectations, encouraging them to think outside of the box, trying something new, additional training or sharing their ideas. Support doesn’t depend on what is correct or wrong, it relies on openness that permits individuals to try things out and grow.

5. Healthy work environment

Many of us have experienced toxic work environments. What makes them toxic will differ for each individual. For most, a common ‘toxic’ experience is where the leader adopts a command and control leadership style. This creates a space where stress can thrive and impacts on the individuals desire to engage their mind, energy and focus at work. Employee mental health is equally as important as their contributions – they cannot be innovative, or result-driven when their ideas, contributions and talent is being diminished by a controlling boss. A healthy work environment means creating a ‘safe’ space where individuals can challenge and debate ideas so the very best solution can be identified.

There are many high performing team models to refer to. One of our favourites is based on Patrick Lencioini’s best selling book – The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. If you want to find out more about the 5 Behaviours of Trust, Conflict, Accountability, Commitment and Results please contact us.

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