Rise Performance Group

3 Keys to Building a High Performing Team

One of the questions I am asked over and over is:  “How do we build an effective team?”  In most cases, what they’re really asking is how to build a high-performing team – one that executes against the organization’s vision, and does so with an energy and synergy that propels the organization forward.

In answer, we must consider both the art and science of leadership.

There are daily disciplines that everyone can do to will yield improved results – the “science.”  These include planning our work, tracking our results and reflecting.

By the way, research shows taking 15 minutes at the end of the day to reflect increased performance 23% over the next 10 days. This HBR article highlights this research and addresses the importance of taking time to reflect daily or weekly on what you’ve learned (did right, did wrong, etc.) – and why people have such a hard time doing it!

However, there are also certain things that a leader does that are more “art”.  These include connecting with others, inspiring the team, confronting poor behaviors, building trust and communicating expectations.

When it comes to building high-performing teams, a leader must find a balance between science and art.  The proper mixture of both creates the magic that turns a department into a high-performing team.  [bctt tweet=”When it comes to building high-performing teams, a leader must find a balance between science and art. ” username=”markatrisepg”]

While there are an infinite number of factors that go into team building, three key concepts from the science of team building can form a strong foundation:


When it comes to clarity, more is definitely better.  And when it comes to your team, complexity is the enemy of execution.  So as you create clarity, you remove complexity.

Your team cannot hit a target that they cannot see. Work the points below into your daily routine to give your team more clarity:

  • The Goal – Notice I did not say goals but rather the goal. What is the one big thing your team is working towards?  The more clarity you can provide around that one thing, the better.  When we have multiple goals, we give up on a chance to truly focus all our resources on that which is most important.
  • Mission – An effective mission statement states what we do and why we do it. Knowing what you do and why you do it helps to empower a team.  The “what” helps everyone on the team understand how the team most effectively delivers value.  The “why” speaks to purpose; the bigger the purpose the faster the answers to complex problems surface.  Is your mission clear?  Does your team understand it?
  • Vision – The vision outlines where the team is headed or what the team aspires to be. This is a powerful tool in creating the identity of the organization.  Strong visions move people to action where weak visions have absolutely no power.  A powerful vision creates a natural tension with the status quo and that tension will move the team towards the vision.  Evaluate the clarity of your vision and your team’s understanding of it.
  • Values – Values are the foundation for creating the culture of the organization; they answer how the organization will behave.  Analyze where the culture is today and where it needs to be to deliver on the mission and vision.  If there is a gap, examine the organization’s values and the clarity of the values.  The values will come to life when they are being modeled and when non-compliant behaviors are no longer tolerated.  Remember, you get what you tolerate.
  • Priorities – “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” ~ Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker understands the power of priorities and your team can benefit if you can get clear on the priorities for the organization.  I recommend three priorities with no more than five at any given time.


Think about a time you were on a team that was aligned behind its mission.  Compare that with a time when you were not aligned behind a mission or vision.  What as the difference?  A team is aligned when:

  • Every member has not just bought in, but has bought in enthusiastically. It is impossible to reach a team’s full potential if any part of the team is not 100% bought in. Periodically sit down with team members individually and ask them if they are bought in.  [bctt tweet=”It is impossible to reach a team’s full potential if any part of the team is not 100% bought in.” username=”markatrisepg”]
  • Every team member understands their unique role and how their unique contribution will help the team win. It is important that each team member sees their place on the team.  Each team member must understand how their efforts will contribute to the mission and greater success of the team.  People are more engaged with their work when their work has meaning.  You create meaning by linking the job to the mission.
  • Every team member has been given a chance to voice their concerns and be heard. One of the factors that has a high correlation to job satisfaction is “a chance to have opinions heard and considered.”  Not only is this leadership behavior more powerful than pay, but it’s something every organization can afford.


Leaders find a way for the team to win.  People often debate about the role of the manager versus the role of the leader when it comes to executing the vision. While the manager’s role is to guide the day-to-day work of execution, the leader has ultimate responsibility and must make sure the strategies and people are in place for the vision to become a reality.

While execution is an entire subject unto itself, the one thing you can do immediately to help improve execution is implement scoreboards.  Have you ever been to a basketball game without a scoreboard?  I have.  The entire time I felt disconnected and confused.

An effective scoreboard will connect your team to the goal and empower them to take the appropriate action.  Every team member should be able to tell you if they are on-track or off-track based on their performance against the scoreboard.

When a leader is able to find the right mix of the science and art of leadership, the team clicks.  The magic happens.  Efficiency improves.  Goals are met.  [bctt tweet=”When a leader is able to find the right mix of the science and art of leadership, the team clicks. The magic happens. Efficiency improves. Goals are met.” username=”markatrisepg”]

Where can you start this week?  Is your team lacking clarity?  Could you do more to align your team members and help each see and value the contribution they and others bring?  Or do you need to evaluate the execution strategies you – the leader – have put in place for your team?  Put the science of leadership to work for your team and help them become a high-performing, effective team.

Could your team benefit from a stronger understanding of how to work together and benefit from the synergy that comes when the team clicks? Would you like to move from a “group” or a “department” to a true TEAM?  Learn more about bringing this powerful program to your organization; Mark delivers this dynamic program as a mini-workshop, in a keynote format, or as a full-day workshop.  Take the next step today to strengthen your team.


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