Let’s Get Real

DustyLeadership, Team Building

Creating high performance teams and organizations

Building High Performance Teams & Organizations is Hard Work

By Robert (Dusty) Staub

Let’s get real, people. Building high performance teams and organizations that are sustainable is quite difficult to do. They do NOT occur by accident but as the result of conscious, consistent, disciplined strategic follow-up and follow-through.

Creating this requires high levels of ENGAGEMENT.  Yet, senior executives time and time again act as if they can simply point in a given direction, lay out a strategic path for growth and it will happen if they have “good” people.

Face it, most organizations have good people who are talented, competent and who WANT to excel. From more than three decades of experience in helping to develop high performance teams and organization I can tell you that it is simply not enough to have the “right people in the right seats.” That is critically important but not sufficient.

Leaders have to actively lead in order to engage, encourage, coach and strategically delegate critical responsibilities. What is missing and needs to be added or addressed to take your leadership, your team, and/or organization to the next level of high performance?

Here’s what it takes to build sustainable high performance.

Engagement and Superior Teamwork with a summation guideline for success.

A team celebrating their success.


The Gallup organization has shown over more than a decade of active research that those organizations with the highest levels of employee engagement are consistently more productive, resilient and profitable than those with lower levels.  Generating high levels of employee and group “discretionary effort” is what it is all about. This means moving the scale up to a higher level characterized as those who come for “what they can give” (engaged) versus those who come for “what they can get” (disengaged).  The primary drivers of engagement are:

  1. Communication: Effective, focused, on-going two-way information flow, effective feedback loops, clear messaging
  2. Supervisory effectiveness: Consistency of coaching, respectful interactions, clear expectations, on-going feedback, appreciation messages, recognition, active listening, constructive criticism, coherent leadership language and practices
  3. Clarity of Purpose & Direction: Focus in terms of the core purpose or context of the business, meaningful work, relevance of tasks, clear goals
  4. Courageous Role Modeling: Moving through fears, addressing difficult issues in timely manner, encouraging the “heart” – (see The 7 Acts of Courage)
  5. Process Integrity: Clear methodology, consistency of practices, intelligent use of resources, Pareto principle (80/20 rule), root-cause analysis, follow-up and follow-through
  6. Powerful Enabling Tools: Consistent use of agreed upon methodology and tools, to mention a few: Courageous Conversations, active listening, “divide & empower” – “Yes, And” – “Stepping Stones” – “Combinatory Play” – INTENT-BEHAVIOR-RESULTS (IBR)

Focusing on Developing High Performance Teamwork.

First of all, to be a team requires two things: Common Purpose–sense of uniting Mission, Objectives, Goals, and, Perceived Interdependence-“we” all recognize that we need each other, of rising or falling together.  Secondly and more daunting, once the basic team is in place is to create one able to sustainably perform at a high level.

This requires:

  • High levels of engagement within and across the team and the ability to engage others
  • Emotional Intelligence – a sense of psychological safety, insights, awareness, discipline, good will
  • Effective communication – listening, feedback, messaging, updates, power questions
  • Positive, consistent leadership / supervisory behaviors
  • Courageous role modeling–integrity, addressing issues, (7 Actsof Courage)
  • Enabling tools and methodologies
  • Encouragement: Celebrating successes, appreciating others, helping those who are “down”

High Performance Identifiers/Characteristics are based on connectivity-high degrees of interaction, sharing, engagement and open flow of information.  The Key is Connectivity high degrees of interaction, sharing, engagement & open-flow.

This is characterized by: high quality results delivered consistently, seamless flow of communication/ information/ feedback, rapid transfer of learning and best practices, effective development of talent–peer/ mutual coaching and mentoring, high levels of accountability/ ownership-personal and mutual responsibility, effective and efficient workflow, innovation and empowered individuals, flexibility and capacity to adapt to challenges and changes.

Summation Guidelines for Success.

There are five key things you can do that will powerfully propel you, your team and organization into sustainable, high performance by generating superior engagement and teamwork. These are:

  • Know & Focus on Purpose – Clarify Purpose & Vision-make sure everyone knows the core “why” of the entity, of the work being done.
  • Expand Perspectives – Be curious, explore options and challenge assumptions and any “sacred cows”
  • Identify Critical Factors – Pareto Focus, looking at the 20% that makes the biggest difference, being strategic in use of time, energy and resources
  • Focus on Essential Behaviors: Such as: failing forward (act-learn-act), celebrate successes, give credit where due, break through all barriers by being creative and adaptive, communicate lavishly, accountability (emphasize “We are all responsible”), focus attention on being only as strong as your weakest link, aim high (don’t be afraid to try or ask), lead by example-model courage-openness-focus-engagement-collaboration, actively listen and engage by using powerful questions (“What is the ONE thing that…?”), believe in your people-actively support their growth and sense of capability.
  • Monitor & Share Results – Continuous dynamic development feedback loops sharing what has worked, not worked, current status, lessons learned and looping back when results are NOT what is desired by checking to see if something was missed in: Purpose, Perspectives, Critical Factors or Essential Behaviors.

Are you ready, do you have the heart, the guts and the discipline to build high performance teamwork and superior leadership abilities in your organization?  What are you waiting for?