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Characteristics of a High Performance Team

It’s all about Leaders and Followers!


John Walsh, Managing Director, Breakthrough Change Management.

 A High Performance Team is made up of two groups, Leaders & Followers, pretty obvious really. But what roles do each play in the team and what are the foundations upon which they are built.

The Leaders role

The leaders role has three areas of focus:

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The three areas should support each other and the amount of time the leader spends on each area will depend upon what stage the team’s development is at and what stage the task delivery is at. However it is imperative that the leader stays focussed and is aware of all three areas constantly.

The High Performance Team leaders behaviours are captured in the Lockheed Martin “Full Spectrum Leadership” approach. Following on from the action centred approach it works at both the task and social cohesion of the team.

Five Principles of Full Spectrum Leadership*:

  1. Shape the Future
  2. Build effective relationships
  3. Energize the team
  4. Deliver results
  5. Model personal excellence, integrity & accountability.

*Lockheed Martin

The final aspect of an HPT leader is the ability to create a safe supported environment where all team players can contribute no matter what social preferences they have.

The Followers role

The followers in the team have a number of duties:

  1. Role model the leaders and follow their behaviours and attitudes
  2. Contribute no matter what personality, preference they have
  3. Look out for and support each of their team members including the leader
  4. Challenge anyone or anything they see is not working

The followers need both a solid task cohesion that gives them the what and how they have to do things. They also need a solid social cohesion which gives them the why they do it and the consequences if they fail.


The environment created by both the Leader and the Followers should reflect Douglas McGregor’s, Characteristics, Behaviours and Values of a High Performance Team:

Characteristics (what identifies it)

  1. There is clear unity and purpose
  2. Roles are clear for self and others as is interconnectedness
  3. The group is self-conscious about its own operations
  4. The group has set clear and demanding performance goals
  5. There is a lot of discussion in which virtually everyone participates
  6. People are free in expressing their feelings as well as their ideas
  7. There is disagreement and this is viewed as good
  8. Most decisions are made at a point where there is general agreement
  9. Each individual carries his or her own weight
  10. Feedback is frequent, frank and relatively comfortable

Behaviours (what we do)

  • Communicate openly, honestly, active listening
  • Raise issues constructively
  • Collaborate to problem solve
  • Help each other out
  • Recognize others’ contributions

Values (how we do it)

  • Vulnerability-based Trust
  • Respect
  • Support for Others
  • Accountability
  • Being positive

It takes a lot of time to build and maintain a high performance team, but it takes way longer to manage a dysfunctional team. For more information on how to build and maintain a High Performance Team give me a call on +44 1438 727 232.





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