Every effective team needs the right elements to be successful. The following list includes the top six characteristics of high performing teams.
1. Share Vision
How would you like to get on a plane and have everyone advocating for going to different locations? The result would be chaos and frustration! A high performing team always has shared vision and priorities. While they may not agree on every nuance, this shared vision unifies them and provides focus for their energy.
2. Love Work
If you love what you do and why you do it, you will reflect a passion for it. We find that almost all of the leaders we have worked with who are successful in what they are doing manifest an energy or passion for it. They love what they do! Not every part of it and not every moment, but if you absolutely love 75% or more of what you do, you will feel less stress, complain less about your job, and wake up energized to get to it. Far too many leaders are more passionate about their hobbies than the organization’s vision. Team members that love their work add great value.
3. Work Hard
Pick an expert in any field and you will find they have invested extraordinary hours of study and practice. Athlete. Surgeon. Musician. If they are world class, they have invested well over 10,000 hours of practice. This is how leaders feel when they work hard at something for which they are passionate. If someone is complaining about the work, it sometimes means:
- He may be working at something he does not love
- His tank is being drained by personal issues in his life
- He has a low level of endurance or stamina
Remember, one team member that does not work hard can negatively impact the morale and performance of the whole team.
4. Stay Sharp
In creating a high performing team, you need a diversity of skills and each team member’s commitment to continually improve those skills. Your value to the team is influenced by how well you stay on top of your professional skills. When you allow your skills to slip, your value to the team is diminished and you hinder the impact of the organization.
5. Communicate Often
I have never once heard a leader or team be accused of over-communicating. Not once! We may feel we have shared the right information in the right volume, but we often forget that people are overwhelmed with messages and most people really are not very good listeners! The same is often true on leadership teams. Research at MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab found that high performing team members balance the amount they talk and listen.
Communication helps build and maintain shared understanding and trust. People often ask, “How can a team make a decision?” The answer is rather simple: collaboratively. High performing leadership teams know how to fight well, since passion and personality will sometimes lead to disagreement. Such disagreements, when taking place upon a foundation of relationship, respect and trust, are very beneficial for the overall effectiveness.
6. Relate Well
The foundation for any strong relationship is trust and respect, and it is critical that a team relates well to one another. Respect and trust are formed by consistently demonstrating character and competency. In other words, trust is the reliance or confidence that other members of the team will generally meet the expectations we have of them. The more we successfully meet these expectations, the more others will perceive us through the filter of “this is a trustworthy person.” It takes time to form deep trust and respect. It requires intentional effort to create trust and it requires almost no effort to lose it!
When selecting a high performing leadership team, you must also determine not only how capable each is individually, but also how effective they will be as a collective team. An effective leadership team requires unity of vision and also necessitates a level of differentiation - each person brings a different set of skills and perspectives that work together. But it is also the job of each team member to help set the tone of unity by manifesting good emotional and relational skills.
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.