Achieving the extraordinary isn’t reserved for superheroes and you don’t have to enlist Captain America as your team leader to accomplish something remarkable. In fact, most high performing teams are comprised of fairly regular members. History offers plenty of examples of teams that have taken individuals from average backgrounds and created something truly extraordinary. The Miracle Mets of 1969, the Rolling Stones, and SEAL Team 6 are just a few. Of course, you’re saying to yourself, my team isn’t made of professional athletes, rock stars or Navy SEALs. How can we become remarkable?
The characteristics of high performing teams are transferrable to nearly any context, but the principles of high performance must be cultivated intentionally into the DNA of the group, be it military, sports, business, or other. Those three essential principles of high performance are greater trust, mutual accountability, and shared commitment. The operative terms in this case are greater, mutual, and shared (in that precise order of development) because it refers to the types of bonds that are created between team members and with team leaders.
As a leader, if you are serious about building and sustaining high performance in your team, you must first understand the beliefs your people hold. Beliefs are the judgments we make about the world around us which influence (or motivate) us in important ways. Greater trust, mutual accountability, and shared commitment are not super powers, but they are high-powered motives that bring out amazing performance in ordinary people.
Therefore, the goal of development for high performance is to not just do things differently as a team, but to actually believe things ARE different within your team. What does that mean and how does it feel, deep inside? One important way to assess the level of trust, accountability, and commitment on your team is to seek answers to six simple questions about the motives that drive your people. These essential questions get to the heart of what your team believes and will help determine whether it has the alignment power to sustain high performance.Greater Trust
1. Risk – Do I believe team members will not be reckless with what I value and entrust to them?
2. Respect – Do I believe the team values my contributions?Mutual Accountability
3. Results – Do I believe something will actually happen if I exercise accountability?
4. Reinforcement – Do I believe the team will stand behind me if I stand out by holding someone accountable?Shared Commitment
5. Reciprocity – Do I believe if I sacrifice my goals for a team member now, another will sacrifice their goals for me when I need it later?
6. Responsibility - Do I believe the team needs my contribution more than any other member at this point?
The simple, yet vital assessment of team beliefs provides leaders with tangible, focused, and actionable feedback to transform regular teamwork into extraordinary performance.