In this era of doing more with less, gutted training budgets, and disengaged workers, how can you create a high-performance team—a team that achieves enduring and ethical excellence?

According to leadership author Stephen M. R. Covey, the average organization has only two engaged workers for every one disengaged, while world-class organizations have nine engaged employees for every disengaged.

Disengaged workers cause huge problems: low productivity, absenteeism, high turnover, lack of innovation and accountability, low morale, poor quality, customer dissatisfaction, and the need for micromanagement.

Creating a great team doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work, leadership, and commitment, but the benefits are enormous. High-performance teams achieve exceptional results because they are:

  • Highly productive
  • Quick to solve problems
  • Innovative
  • Engaged
  • Committed
  • Aligned

For you, the manager, a high-performance team lessens your workload, allows you to focus on higher priorities, generates recruiting gravity for more talent, and lowers your stress. Everyone on a high-performance team finds more joy in work.

Most people want to do a good job and be part of a high-performance team. They just don’t know what their leadership or followership role might be in such a team. That’s your challenge as their leader, and it starts within.

Creating a high-performance team is a leadership journey that starts with self-leadership.

Begin by answering the question, “Why do you want to lead?”

Is it because of status—having a prestigious title? To make more money? To be in control or have power? For the “perks” of management? 

All those traditional reasons will undermine your management because they are ego-driven. Your team picks up on them and withholds trust. People don’t take risks and put themselves on the line for a leader mostly interested in himself or herself.


Members of your team will put even more of themselves out there if you have the courage to be vulnerable: no, you don’t have all the answers. Not everything is under control. Yes, you make mistakes (and own up to them and make them right).  You acknowledge that you need their help and creatively look for ways to help them.

Your self-leadership should involve having a clear sense of your personal purpose and values. Our purpose is our reason for being. Think of it as your calling. It answers the question: Why am I here? When we have a clear sense of purpose, our leadership is stronger because it rests on a solid foundation. For example, Bob’s is “To make the world a better place, even slightly.”

Personal values are those things that are important to you. Think about what you believe and stand for, and your convictions about what is most important in life. While many organizations have statements of their values, in our experience many people don’t take the time to identify their own values.

We believe there is great power in making our personal values explicit and communicating them with others via respectful dialogue. Values matter because what you deem important guides your behavior. Many people run into trouble when they start living and leading in ways that conflict with their values.

See here for a “Personal Values Exercise” that we created to help you determine your values:

To create a high-performance team, your employees have to know that you believe in, respect, and truly care about them. You will need to role model the behavior that you want to encourage, and serve them so that you can accomplish extraordinary things together.

Core Concept: Creating a high-performance team starts with leading yourself.

Practical Applications:

  • Answer, “Why do you want to lead?”
  • Discover your personal purpose and values
  • Have the courage to be vulnerable

Show your team that you care