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The Essential Elements Of A High-Performing Team

Written by: LaSandra Collins, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor LaSandra Collins

To be a part of a team means each member is committing to actively participate in tasks and activities in a collective effort to achieve a common goal. It entails each member contributing their skills and knowledge working together to accomplish the team’s objectives. The team supports and relies on each other; and are accountable for individual and collective performance. An effective team fosters an environment where members share ideas, solve problems together and leverage each other’s strengths. Overall, the success of the team is dependent upon each team member’s willingness to commit and actively participate to achieve success. This begs the question, how can each member as an individual bring their knowledge, skills, and abilities to join as a team?

team meeting in a white big office space with windows

Over the years, I have coached many, many managers, and leaders alike and have discovered there are key elements needed to build and maintain a high-performing team. I would even venture to say that if any one of these elements are missing, it could lead to the team being misaligned with the common goal, create confusion, and its demise. The key elements are clarity, communication, collaboration, cohesiveness, and conflict management. I affectionately call them the “five C’s” because they are the foundation to the success of any team, whether the board of directors, executive team, or workgroups without them each are doomed to fail.

1. Clarity is the first key

You have probably heard the quote, “A leader is as only as good as his team.” One might infer that the leader must build his team. However, to build a team, the first thing that is needed is clarity! The leader may be only as good as the team, but the team is only as good as the leader; and if the leader lacks clarity of the business needs, the roles needed, or the objective it will be difficult for the team to meet the goal. When we think about clarity the leader’s primary role is to:

  • Define the team’s purpose and objective – Determining why the team exists and establishing specific and measurable goals for the team provides clear direction and focus. This helps align the team’s efforts and increase effectiveness.

  • Set clear expectations and deliverables – This creates accountability and minimizes misunderstandings, which contributes to productivity and desired outcomes.

  • Establish individual roles and responsibilities within the team – This promotes clarity and efficiency. It clearly defines roles and responsibilities to eliminate confusion.

  • Provide resources and support for team members – This promotes productivity, cohesiveness, and development. It ensures that the tools needed to achieve the common goals are available to everyone.

2. Communication is crucial

The second element to building a high-performing team is communication. Communication is crucial to the success of a team. Communication is a two-way dialogue where information is exchanged. In the Stephen Covey’s book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” the fifth habit is, “Seek to understand before being understood.” This means when the team is discussing matters each member must use active listening skills to understand each other’s points of view and not just listening to respond. Active listening is critical to communication, each team member should focus on what their fellow colleague is saying with an open mind, not speaking over him or her but hearing them out; not judging or dismissing their opinion because it differs from their own; and responding appropriately in a collaborative manner. The leader’s role is to foster open and transparent communication, by:

  • Encouraging regular and effective communication channels - Encourages the exchange of ideas, shared understanding, cohesion among the team.

  • Active listening and respect for diverse perspectives – Promotes clarity, effective communication, productive discussions, and problem-solving among the team.

  • Giving clear and concise messaging to the team – This enhances communication within their teams, reduces misunderstandings, improves efficiency, and promotes effective decision-making.

  • Provides constructive feedback and promotes a culture of open dialogue – Doing so, contributes to the growth, development, and overall success of team members and the team as a whole. It promotes a positive work culture, enhances performance, and strengthens relationships within the team.

3. Collaboration is a must

The third element needed is collaboration. Collaboration is the cornerstone of a successful team because it brings the team together to discuss and brainstorm ideas; it also causes the team members to learn from one another. Everyone is different and unique, and each has skills and strengths that can complement each other. A manager should play to each member’s strengths. It is important that all team members work together and find innovative ways to generate ideas and solve problems using individual strengths collectively. Collaboration brings together diverse perspectives, ideas, and expertise. Through collaboration, the team can tap into the synergy that arises from the combination of different perspectives, leading to more creative and effective outcomes. The leader’s role is to:

  • Promote shared vision and collective ownership of tasks – This creates a sense of unity, purpose, and collaboration within the team. It enhances motivation, accountability, creativity, and adaptability, ultimately leading to improved team performance and success.

  • Create opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing – This empowers the team to work together, leverage their collective wisdom, and drive innovation and growth. It improves problem-solving capabilities, enhances learning, and strengthens the overall performance and effectiveness of the team.

  • Facilitate effective team meetings and brainstorming sessions – The leader’s role is to guide the discussion, encourage participation, and create an environment that fosters collaboration and creativity. This maximizes engagement, generates valuable ideas, and drives the team's success.

  • Encourage cross-functional cooperation and leverage diverse skills – This reveals the collective strengths of the team and unlocks their full potential. It leads to improved problem-solving, increased innovation, and better outcomes for the team and the organization as a whole.

4. Cultivate trust and team spirit

The fourth element is cohesiveness, which cultivates trust and team spirit. A cohesive team is one that works seamlessly together as a whole. Though at times they may not always agree with one another, when matters are decided upon, whether they individually agree or not, they should support the decisions and unite as one voice. Building a cohesive team takes time, effort, and continuous nurturing. It requires a focus on creating a positive team culture, fostering strong relationships, and promoting collaboration. A leader can build a cohesive team that thrives, achieves its goals, and enjoys working together, by:

  • Building trust through transparency, reliability, and accountability – Both the leader and team members should demonstrate transparency, reliability, and accountability in their actions and interactions. By fostering a culture of trust, the team can collaborate more effectively, communicate openly, and achieve their goals together.

  • Fostering a positive and inclusive team culture – This allows team members to feel valued, respected, and motivated to contribute their best. A positive and inclusive team culture enhances collaboration, productivity, and overall team performance.

  • Recognize and celebrate individual and team achievements – Consistently recognizing and celebrating individual and team achievements, fosters a positive and motivated team culture, drives performance, and creates a sense of pride and accomplishment within the team.

  • Promote social interactions and team-building activities – This creates opportunities for social engagement, team bonding and a sense of belonging. By promoting social interactions and team-building activities, you can create a positive team culture, improve collaboration, and strengthen the overall performance of the team.

5. Strong conflict management

Finally, conflict management is the last essential element of building a high-performing team. When conflicts arise (and they will) the leader must act swiftly to minimize the negative effect that can cause division within the team. The team cannot be successful in its efforts if there is in-fighting and turmoil among its members. The leader must address and resolve differences as they surface not letting them fester. It is essential that the leader do everything in his power to resolve conflicts constructively, by:

  • Identify and address conflicts early on – The leader must be proactive in intervention, effective communication, and focus on collaboration. Promptly identifying and addressing conflicts, will foster a positive team environment, maintain strong working relationships, and promote a healthy and productive team dynamic.

  • Encourage open and respectful discussions to resolve issues – This creates an environment that values diverse perspectives, fosters collaboration, and promotes effective issue resolution. It enables teams to work through challenges, find innovative solutions, and build stronger working relationships.

  • Seek win-win solutions and compromise when necessary – The leader should strive for solutions that meet the needs of all parties involved, this contributes to a positive team environment, enhance problem-solving capabilities, and maintains strong working relationships.

  • Mediate conflicts and involve relevant stakeholders, if required - As a mediator, the leader is to facilitate the resolution process and create a supportive environment where conflicts can be addressed constructively. By involving relevant stakeholders, the leader taps into their expertise and promote a collaborative approach to conflict resolution.

A leader’s greatest asset is the team

Building and maintaining a high performing team requires the elements of clarity, communication, collaboration, cohesiveness, and conflict management. Each of these elements are interconnected and work hand-in-hand with one another. The success of the team is paramount to the understanding and utilization of all of them. Leaders set the direction and focus (clarity); provides and fosters an environment open and honest dialogue (communication); encourages knowledge sharing and feedback (collaboration); fosters an environment of trust and teamwork (cohesiveness); and resolves in-fighting at the first onset of an issue (conflict management). So, I say to you, if leaders built their teams with the five C’s method, they would have a high-performing team.

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LaSandra Collins Brainz Magazine

LaSandra Collins, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

LaSandra Collins, is empowers professionals in competing effectively in the job market so that they can realize their career aspirations and goal. For many years, LaSandra worked in dead end jobs to make ends meet. It was after a Recruiter told her, “You are grossly underpaid for the education and experience you have,” that she turned her career around and decided to dedicate her life to helping others do the same. Through research, studying the job market, partnering with Recruiters and strategies LaSandra has created a way to help others find their ideal career opportunities. LaSandra is now the CEO of Competitive Edge, a coaching firm that offers one-on-one coaching and online training to help her clients navigate their careers. Her mission is to help others, hear the words, “We want to make you an offer."



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