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Five Principles of Building High-Performing Teams

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Five Principles of Building High-Performing Teams

Monday, March 27, 2023

High-performing teams are essential to any organization's success. I have founded and built a digital healthcare business, engineered complex cross-sector collaborations, and now lead the digital medicine franchise at a large pharmaceutical company.

In my experience, the following five principles are critical to building a high-performing team.

  1. A Common Purpose The single most important factor is purpose. People must know that what they are doing has meaning. Some of the highest-performing teams within society are elite-level sports teams. A well-understood phenomenon in sports is if one team is motivated and another team is unmotivated, the motivated team almost always wins, regardless of all other factors. Answers to questions like "Does this game have meaning to me? Does this game matter?" drive results more than skills, past results, resources, measurable talent, and everything else. So, purpose and motivation are critical to the game you are playing. With purpose and motivation, people can often transcend challenges to become better versions of themselves. Purpose unlocks talent. Without purpose, it is very difficult to harness high talent.
  2. Win As a Team Another key principle is that the team members must want to win as a team and not just as individuals. Some companies are built on individual merit. But the magic happens when there is connectivity, and a desire to win as a team. So, offering incentives to win as a team is important.
  3. The Right Skills A high-performing team needs to have different and balanced skills. There is no such thing as a team of 11 tennis players. Every team needs people with the high-knowledge command of a specialist in two-three verticals and the broad knowledge of a generalist. This allows the team to make faster but more holistically informed decisions.
  4. Dynamic Roles A high-performing team allows roles to be dynamically versus strictly defined. This is the balance to the "Having the Right Skills" principle. Team members need to believe that they can become more than they are in order to be their best. Having an environment in which they can be flexible and having roles that are dynamic allows for that.
  5. Manage Also As Individuals While the leader-coach should coach the group as a team, he/she should also coach every member as an individual. Show how a person can become a better version of themselves on not just a team basis but also at the individual level. It is important that the team wins and the individual wins in the process. Ensuring, as a leader, that you're focused on both is critical.

These principles are ideas that have to work together in complete harmony. When they do, you have a high-performing team.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of In the Lead magazine, from The Stillman School of Business and its Business Leadership Center. The bi-annual magazine focuses on leadership perspectives from the field of health care, with content that is curated from leaders across the industry who share lessons learned from real-world experiences.

Categories: Business

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