7 Leadership Techniques for Building a High-Performing Team

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High-performing teams don’t happen by accident – they have greater levels of participation and collaboration due to trust, a strong sense of team identity, and confidence in their abilities. 1 All high-performance teams have one thing in common: a leader who creates an environment where high performance thrives.

Below are 7 techniques that these leaders use to build high-performance teams:

Define Clear Goals and Ensure Team Buy-In

Zig Ziglar once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”
Defining clear goals is crucial. Without goals, team members can easily get lost along the way.

Follow these 5 simple steps to get started:

  1. Meet with the team to discuss and establish the goals
  2. Facilitate a brainstorming session
  3. Get your team’s input on selecting the top goals to focus on
  4. Discuss shared accountability and how progress will be measured
  5. Keep the goals front and center. Print the goals on water bottles or mousepads, something that keeps them visible 3

Define and Measure Performance

Implementing an effective performance management process can have a large impact on sustainable growth. These processes have a direct impact on shaping the company’s culture. Create performance measurement processes that:

  • Use a merit-based system to differentiate between high and low level performers 4
  • Clearly define standards and expectations at the individual, team, department, and company level 4
  • Develop transparent reward systems 4

Empower Your Team Members

In companies where trust and accountability are strong, empowered team members are likely to:

  • Recognize and respond to change in the environment and marketplace 4
  • Develop innovating ideas to meet demands and stay ahead of the competition 4
  • Connect with customers to create a brand experience 4

Communicate Effectively

In conversations, 70% is listening, 20% is asking good questions, and 10% is summarizing and providing possible courses of action. 2 Use language that builds trust, encourages forward thinking, and creates energy within the team. Find a way to have conversations about the hard topics – burying a problem doesn’t make it disappear. 2 Encourage team members to speak up and quickly stop any behavior that implies their ideas are not valued. 2

Get the Right Team Members

Teams can improve by recruiting the right talent. Companies that invest a lot of resources into recruiting the right team members outperform those that do not. 1 Find their unique abilities and help them grow and utilize those abilities.

Recruit passionate team members. Steven Covey once said, “If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without.”

Build a Learning Environment

Focus on the team’s development. It’s important that team members learn from successes and mistakes. High-performing teams are continuously improving and are motivated to develop their skills and knowledge. 5

Effective Leadership

Inadequate team leadership is often the biggest cause of team ineffectiveness. 6 Leaders of high-performance teams:

  • Inspire employees with consistent and frequent communication about the organization’s culture 4
  • Connect today’s work, initiatives, and changes to where the company is heading 4
  • Inspire trust and respect
  • Involve all team members in developing strategy 4


1 High-performance Teams: Understanding Team Cohesiveness, Daniela Molnau, iSixSigma
2 10 Leadership Techniques for Building High-Performing Teams, Linkage
3 Build a High-Performing Team in 30 Minutes, Kristi Hedges, Forbes
4 The Keys to Building a High-Performance Culture, Ehssan Abdallah and Ashish Ahluwalia, Gallup
5 10 Rules for High-Performing Teams, Ronald E Riggio, Ph.D., Psychology Today
6 A process to Build High-Performance Teams, David Thiel, DesignIntelligence

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