Building High Performance Teams

Who reading this does not like to win – Setting a goal and reaching it – Challenging ourselves to be the best we can be.

Consider this quote from Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo:

“I always did something that I was a little not ready to do. I think that, that is how you grow. When there’s a moment of ‘Wow, I’m not so sure that I can do this, and you push through those moments, it’s then that you have a breakthrough. Sometimes that’s a sign that something really great is about to happen. You’re about to grow and learn a lot more about yourself.”

I believe that this is as true about team performance as it is about individual pursuit. The truth is that most leaders spend a sizable portion of their time working towards building the highest performing teams they can. And as much as leaders should be able to relate to Ms. Mayer’s quote regarding pushing themselves, real breakthroughs come from pushing our teams to greatness and positioning them for success.Building High Performance Teams

We expect allot from our teams – and we should, based on the amount of time and effort we put into recruiting, training and empowering the brightest and the best. But before launching into goal setting exercises and performance agreements, we as leaders need to articulate what we mean by a team. For me the definition is simple – a team is a group of individuals, working towards a common stated goal, interdependent on each other for the achievement of that stated goal. The understanding of interdependent is an important differentiation and what marks the difference between teams and what Kristi Hedges calls work groups.

High Performance Teams

In the same way companies have vision statements; the best examples of high performance teams are those with the same agreed to purpose articulated in a common stated goal. Just to be clear, as the best teams drive to their goals, it does not preclude individual successes as well – consider a sports analogy: As a team works together for their sports championship, the World Cup, Super Bowl or Stanley Cup, members of the team can also excel as the top scorer, but the goal is the cup!

Shared Vision

If we want to build high performing teams, we need to start with the crafting of a common vision, understood by all, and grounded in a clear commitment and understanding of our interdependence – that will become our high performance team definition. With that in place we can begin building and maturing a team that performs at the highest level.

Starting with a shared vision will give us one of the Characteristics of a Performance Driven Team. After all –  Who doesn’t want to set a goal and reach it by challenging ourselves to be the best we can be!