Strong companies are built by strong teams. You can have a genius strategy and an in-demand product, yet still fall short of your goals. For the magic to truly happen, you need high-performing teams executing on all cylinders.
Here are three key elements to developing high-performing teams.
Capable and bold leaders
Having smart, talented leaders is the first step in building an effective team.
Leaders must be competent in their role and willing to serve the best interests of the entire organization. They need to set high standards, while being expert communicators and truth tellers. Strong leaders face tough situations head on and make the difficult decisions, even when that means not making the easy choice.
A poor leader can have a devastating impact on overall morale and cast a negative shadow across the entire organization. If a leader doesn’t have managerial courage, the organization will never achieve or sustain high performance.
Clarity of purpose
Everyone must know the rules of the game to succeed. Leaders must identify goals and the roles people play in achieving them. There should be no doubt which behaviors, attributes and outcomes equal high performance.
Having cascaded goals linked to a corporate strategy provides alignment and certainty for team members. To keep teams motivated and energized, leaders need to ensure they have meaningful work, appropriate training and clear career pathways. A leader needs to create a diverse environment where individuals and teams can thrive. The best leaders proactively implement performance management processes that inspire and engage the team, so they feel empowered and accountable for outcomes.
Foundation of trust
When team members are highly competent in their roles and aligned to a common vision, trust naturally develops. When leaders model transparency and accountability, and empower their managers to make decisions, trust flourishes. This reduces unnecessary red tape and lets employees do their best work. It also means that all members of the team are comfortable sharing mistakes, asking for help and taking measured risks.
A safe and open environment where ideas can be appropriately challenged leads to better outcomes. High-performing teams hold each other accountable for operating with high integrity.
A high-performing culture is like an organic system — it’s a living, changing thing. Leaders are in the privileged position to establish the right conditions for high performance to grow and blossom across the organization.
As a leader, it’s your job to build the right foundation for teams to achieve and sustain high performance. While it requires dedication and discipline, the rewards speak for themselves.
Tim Cunningham is the chief information officer and a vice president at Grange Insurance. Since taking the CIO role in 2016, Tim has been instrumental in building a culture of innovation, ensuring that the company continues to not just survive, but thrive in the future.