Recently a client asked me, “what are the three things that matter most when it comes to creating a high-performance team?” Coming up with just three things was a formidable challenge. I can name ten. But three… After giving her question some thought, here’s what I shared:

1. Pride in Purpose
A clear purpose inspires commitment to an end game that matters. When teams unify around a common purpose that has personal meaning to its members, they see themselves as making a contribution about which they can feel personally proud.

How do leaders build shared purpose?

Engage the team in a statement about “who we serve” and “what we seek to contribute in their lives”.
Search for and share stories of the impact the team is having relative to its purpose.
Celebrate individual and collective successes in ways that tie back to shared purpose.

2. Psychological Safety
Psychological safety is foundational for trust. When team members feel comfortable admitting mistakes, expressing disagreement, and taking risks with one another, new possibilities for creativity, candor, and cooperation open up.

How do leaders foster psychological safety?

Debrief mistakes and “failures” in ways that focus on learning rather than blame.
Express appreciation when people disagree with your ideas and challenge the status quo.
Normalize and train people to ask for, give, and receive feedback.

3. Promises Kept
Requests made and promises kept are key forms of currency that foster confidence and credibility among team members. When team members keep their promises it creates a culture of mutual accountability and excellence. People feel assured that they can depend on one another to keep commitments and meet agreed upon standards.

How do leaders ensure promises are kept?

Train people in the art of making clear requests and commitments.
Empower people to say “yes” only to requests that they are confident they can deliver on.
Encourage proactive communication when commitments cannot be kept.

How do you connect to these three Ps of team excellence? What would you add based on your experience leading or working on teams?

Image Credit: Tobias Mrzyk on Unsplash

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