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Is Yours a High-Performance Team? Let’s See!

Whether you are a team leader or team member and whether you play in that rarefied air at the top of a company or somewhere down the line, this is a good time to pause for a reality check: Is your team a power-on, high-performance entity?

The term “high-performance team” is one of those weasel phrases that triggers lots of breezy theorizing and discussion. So, before you answer the question, test whether or not your team measures up to the qualities that I’ve seen exhibited in high-performing leaders and teams during my work with them over the past 30 plus years:

Does your team leader:

  1. Align the team to ensure everyone is committed to a common strategy, goals, roles, and protocols?
  2. Require the team to act as “owners” rather than functional chieftains?
  3. Encourage team members to hold one another — and the leader — accountable?
  4. Adjust his or her leadership behavior — from directing to delegating — to situational needs?
  5. Role model effective leadership behavior in leading the team and managing upward?
  6. Ask team members for feedback — or show them the door?
  7. View his or her team as leaders — or followers?

And does your team:

  1. Act as a board of directors or more like a collection of paid staffers?
  2. Believe that winning is about “us” rather than “me”?
  3. “Go there” to raise beyond-my-turf questions and issues about performance?
  4. Adhere to an agreed upon set of protocols for decision making, managing conflict, and interpersonal behavior?
  5. Have a performance management system in place that provides for-real, positive consequences for desired behavior?
  6. Have a winning mindset enabling everyone to deliver on increasingly higher expectations?
  7. Conduct periodic, honest, “how are we doing?” self-evaluations?

Answering these questions will provide you with an accurate awareness of your team’s “as is” performance compared to high-performance counterparts. But awareness doesn’t yield results, especially if your discovery reveals that your team falls short of the mark. If so, it’s time to move beyond awareness to deliberate action.

And depending on where you fall short, that action might involve a full high-performance team alignment to reconstitute the team, coaching the team and/or individual players to change mindsets and behaviors, and leadership skill development to sharpen capabilities. Most likely, this is not an either-or choice. Based on my past 30 years of consulting experience, integrated action in all three areas will be required to elevate your leader and team to high-performance.

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Howard Guttman

Howard Guttman

Howard Guttman is founder and principal of Guttman Development Strategies, Inc., a management consulting firm that builds high-performance teams and coaches executives to realize their own and their organizations’ potential. Leadership Excellence magazine has named him one of its “Excellence 100 Top Thought Leaders.”