The 5 characteristics that all high-performance teams master

Build an high performance team

Do you manage or are you a part of a high-performance team? Still trying to figure it out? Ask yourself these 5 questions regarding your team:

  1. Would you say your team members are willing to openly and willingly share their opinions with others?
  2. Can you identify your team meetings as exciting and productive activities?
  3. Does the unanimous decision-making process go on quickly, always trying to achieve consensus?
  4. Do your team members discuss each other’s shortcomings?
  5. Do your team members put team-wide business interests ahead of personal interests?

If you give positive answers on all points, then accept my congratulations on a well-coordinated, high-performance team! That is to say, you, as a leader, have reached the highest level of team collaboration and management. On the other hand, one or more negative answers certainly, serve as a pretext for our further communication.

Firstly, let’s start talking about building team spirit by looking at the original concept of Simon Sinek: “Start with the Why”. Secondly, look through Patrick Lencioni’s book, The 5 Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In addition, I will bring the plot of Alan Parker’s film, The Commitments, into the conversation. The ultimate goal is to compare the realities of everyday life with theoretical considerations on our topic.

Start with the WHY

Start with the why
Start with the why

A high-performance team must have a clear answer to Why. Why the vision should consciously stand apart from the “What”. In short, team members must clearly distinguish the “Why they are doing” from the “What they are doing”.

Start with the Why:

  • is a guide for the company to make decisions that correspond to the purpose of the brand,
  • helps to attract talents with similar values,
  • the main differentiator with the competition,
  • the primary key advantage for the consumers.
  • Is a North Star for the company’s KPI (Key Performance Indicators)


Focusing the company on its own Why keeps team members from looking too much at your What and the competition. It shifts concerns about competition in general to the actual needs of your brand.

As practice shows, many brands make a mistake in defining KPIs. They strive to “outperform” the competition instead of worrying about their unique merits.

Also, Starting with the Why leads the brand to awareness among consumers and strengthens their faith in its good quality. Focusing on “Why” provides a sense of sincerity to the brand.


Understanding the corporate “Why” attracts talents who share the brand’s vision, values, and goals. The priority of “Why” brings people together at a high level of consciousness. More than that, the team fosters a growing sense of belonging to a common cause. And, for all, employees are involved in one common cause, are devoted to it, show greater productivity and creativity and turn into high-performance teams.

The employee’s role in large structures is often too narrow and detailed. Employees lose vision of the supreme company goal. Managers should set KPIs based on the corporate Why during employee development talks.

This approach is outlined by Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take action. You can watch the TED video or read The Golden Circle and Why Start with Why? for more information.

Start with the Why, Simon Senek I TED Talk

5 steps to develop a high-performance team

In his book “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, Patrick Lencioni analyses the five main issues of non-high-performance teams. He offers a solution to move up any group to a high-performance team

1. Absence of Trust


This problem worsens when employees isolate themselves from their colleagues, avoiding dependence. They avoid requesting assistance. Also, they are afraid of showing weakness. Hence, it is impossible to lay the foundations of trust in a team without creating a sufficient level of trust among employees.

Blame is not for failure, it is for failing to help or ask for help,

Jørgen Vig Knudstop, Lego CEO


Admit, first, that you have specific weaknesses. As a leader, you can set a good example. By doing so, the leader takes the initiative and encourages others to follow his example. Further, this behaviour will become a habit, and the pattern will move into the communication culture. In the long run, such an algorithm for corporate interaction becomes the basis of trust in the behavioural pyramid.

2. Fear of Conflict (lack of open discussions)


Teams lacking mutual trust are highly ineffective in spontaneous, heated discussions. As a rule, such debates on conflict issues smoothly turn into the category of empty hypocritical talking shops. The fear of open, heated discussion triggers unwanted reactions, such as rumours and complaints in the corridors. Be careful complaints are the roots of Workplace Negativity, and you must deal with this issue first if you want to be able to develop trust and open discussion,


A leader should demonstrate that he welcomes heated discussion and constructive conflict. The leader must resolutely redirect the conversation if the conflict exceeds established moral and productive norms. Of course, he must develop a healthy framework for solving the problem.

3. Lack of Commitment

High-performance team
by Patrick Lencioni


In case of a lack of trust and constructive conflict, team members will unlikely be ready to commit themselves.


The team must establish clear deadlines. Clarity in meetings is needed to overcome the challenges and eliminate dysfunctions. Moreover, it will contribute to the correct planning to avoid possible obstacles and pitfalls.

4. Avoidance of Accountability


In the absence of a commitment to a clear plan of action, employees refrain from asking colleagues about their activities and results. Therefore, employees can easily evade responsibility and complaints.


The time comes when the team has risen to a level of trust and commitment. In these circumstances, everyone will correctly perceive criticism in their address. The motto should be: “Nothing personal. Work is work”. This set of relationships allows people to successfully cope with difficulties. Such an atmosphere liberates mutual demands and calls for responsibility.

5. Inattention to Results


Every team member prioritises his or her ego and career aspirations before the team, primarily when they are not held accountable.


The teamwork should be based on trust, healthy conflict resolution, commitment, and corporate responsibility. In doing so, team members will receive recognition for their performance through praise and rewards. In such conditions, employees will easily give preference to collective interests. On the other hand, the turnover of talent decreases. That’s it! You reach the highest level and your team is truly a high-performance team!

How does it work in “real life.”

The Commitments is a movie directed by Alan Parker. The storyline tells how Jimmy Rabbit gathers young workers around him to create a group of Soul music. He learns to become a leader and tries to get a high-performance team. Events unfold in the north of Dublin.

The Commitments

Start with the “Why”

First, the “CEO” shared his vision, explaining the Why to the newly formed team. “The soul is the sound of the working class. It’s the sound of the factory and riding. The soul is the music people understand. Sure, it’s basic, and it’s simple. But it’s something else ’cause, ’cause, ’cause it’s honest, that’s it. It’s honest.”

How about the 5 stairs to success as a high-performance team?

Unfortunately, the music band or team has had to overcome difficulties at every stage of its development. The band missed the 5 characteristics of a high-performance team.

Absence of Trust

The main obstacle to their progress is their lack of trust in their capabilities and collective potential. Moreover, it is also a lack of solid cohesion, mutual understanding, and mutual support.

Fear of Conflict

At first glance, conflict is not characteristic of relationships in a team. According to the script, the musicians freely exchange opinions and impressions. However, this is only a discussion of personal issues, not collective or professional ones.

Lack of Commitment

At first, there is no commitment. Everyone’s ego prevails over the interests of the group. Not all guys are committed to achieving their goals.

Avoidance of Accountability

This is another problem for the band. For example, the chorus place vacations first. The lead singer is ready to leave for another band as soon as he has an offer.

Inattention to Results

Despite all their struggle, the band can interpret great songs and gain a certain notoriety. The band does not play long together, more likely due to the non-completion of the 4 previous stages.

High-performance team Conclusion

hIgh performance team

For a more successful example, watch the movie The Lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring by Peter Jackson. This gathering of outcasts goes through all the stages of high-performance team development to finally make an incredible and successful team.

To know more about what makes an ideal team player, please read The Ideal Team Player.

First, ensure the company vision (the Why) and values are understood and shared by all employees. Secondly, with your team, go through all the steps one by one. David Gousset

Need support, or help for implementation? Ask me.

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