- IMD Business School

Leading a high-performing team: what you need to know

Do you want to lead a high-performing team but don’t know where to start?

It’s no secret that developing and leading a high-performing team is essential for success in any field.

However, many people feel overwhelmed when it comes to this task. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

You can quickly develop and lead a high-performance team with the right tools and skills.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about creating an effective team environment and motivating your employees to achieve great results.

Here are the 12 essential skills to master to lead a high-performing team (and 7 extra soft skills):

  1. Define roles and responsibilities clearly
  2. Set clear goals and objectives
  3. Communicate regularly
  4. Provide feedback
  5. Encourage team building
  6. Reward success
  7. How leadership and high performance are linked
  8. Get to know your team members on an individual level
  9. Be flexible
  10. Be willing to make mistakes
  11. Work on conflict Management
  12. Encourage creativity
  13. Seven extra soft skills you should master

1. Define roles and responsibilities clearly

Clear roles and responsibilities are essential for any team to function effectively. As the team leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone on your team knows exactly what is expected of them.

This will help reduce confusion and conflict and allow your team to work more efficiently. Clarity also will enable you to hold team members accountable for their performance and identify areas where someone may struggle, or need coaching.

In addition, clear roles and responsibilities can help to boost morale by giving people a sense of ownership over their work.

Overall, defining roles and responsibilities is an essential first step in leading a high-performing team.

2. Set clear goals and objectives

As a team leader, one of your most essential responsibilities is setting clear goals and objectives. This will give your team something to work towards and will help keep them focused and motivated.

However, it is also essential to ensure that these goals are achievable and that your team has the resources and support they need to reach them.

Once you have set your team’s goals, monitoring their progress and providing feedback on their performance is also essential.

This will help to ensure that they stay on track and that you can identify any areas in which they may need improvement. By following these steps, you can ensure that your team performs at its best and achieves its full potential.

3. Communicate regularly

If you want to lead a high-performing team, there are a few things you need to know. First and foremost, effective communication is vital.

Make sure you regularly communicate with your team members so they are always aware of what is happening. Additionally, it is crucial to set clear goals and expectations.

Your team should know exactly what they are working towards and what is expected. Finally, you need to create a positive and supportive environment.

This means creating a space where team members feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things. If you can do these things, you will be well on your way to leading a high-performing team.

4. Provide feedback

As a team leader, providing feedback to your team members is essential. This will help them learn and grow and help you identify any areas that need improvement.

One way to provide feedback is to use the SBI model. This stands for Situation, Behavior, and Impact.

When providing feedback, you should first describe the situation, then reveal the behavior you observed, and finally explain the impact of that behavior.

For example, you might say, “When you interrupted Sarah in the meeting today, it made her feel disrespected and made it difficult for her to share her ideas.

This type of feedback is specific, objective, and actionable, and it will help your team members improve their performance.

5. Encourage team building

If you’re looking to lead a high-performing team, there are a few things you need to know. First, it’s essential to establish roles and responsibilities.

Each team member should know what is expected of them and be held accountable for their results. Secondly, you need to provide structure and clear expectations.

Your team should have a clear goal to aim for and a plan for how to get there. Finally, it’s important to encourage team building.

Activities like team-building exercises can help team members get to know each other better and build trust and cooperation.

If you can create a clear vision, establish roles and responsibilities, and encourage teamwork, you’ll be well on your way to leading a high-performing team.

6. Reward success

As the leader of a team, it is your responsibility to set the tone and culture for your group. If you want to create a high-performing team, there are a few things you need to do.

First, it is crucial to define the goals and objectives of the team clearly. Members should know what they are working towards and why it is essential.

Second, you need to select the right people for the team. It is essential to have a mix of skill sets and personality types to create a well-rounded group.

Third, you must provide adequate training and support. Make sure your team members have the resources they need to be successful. Fourth, you must foster a climate of trust and respect.

Each member of the team should feel like their input is valued. Lastly, don’t forget to reward your team members for their successes.

This will help them feel appreciated and motivated to continue performing at a high level. Mastering these skills can create a high-performing team that achieves great things.

7. How Leadership and High Performance Are Linked

As any business leader knows, high performance is essential to success. But what exactly is high performance? And how can you create a team that consistently performs at a high level?

At its most basic, high performance is simply the ability of a team to achieve its goals. But achieving goals is not always easy. To be successful, teams need leaders who can guide them and help them overcome challenges.

Influential leaders know how to set goals that challenge their team members but are still achievable. They also know how to communicate those goals clearly and provide feedback that helps their team members stay on track.

Finally, effective leaders know how to create an environment that motivates their team members to perform at their best.

If you want to lead a high-performing team, keep this skill in mind. By setting clear goals, communicating effectively, and providing feedback, you can set your team up for success.  

8. Get To Know Your Team Members on an Individual Level

One of the best ways to get to know your team members is to ask questions and listen to the answers. Find out what motivates them, their goals, and interests them outside of work.

Take an interest in their lives and show that you care about them as people, not just as employees. Another great way to get to know your team is to spend time together outside work.

This can be anything from grabbing a coffee or going for lunch to playing sports or attending social events.

Getting to know your team on a personal level will help you build a team that has a strong foundation for a successful working relationship.

9. Be Flexible

Being flexible is an essential quality for anyone in a leadership role. Things will inevitably change and go wrong from time to time, so you must be able to adapt and adjust as needed.

For example, you may have a plan for how you want a project to progress, but if the team you’re working with isn’t able to meet those expectations, it’s crucial to be able to adjust the plan.

Being flexible shows that you are adaptable and willing to work with others, both essential for effective leadership and one of the most critical leadership skills.

10. Be Willing to Make Mistakes

One of the essential qualities of a good leader is the willingness to learn from their mistakes. Nobody is perfect, and even the most successful leaders have made their share of errors.

What separates great leaders from the rest is their ability to learn from their mistakes and use them as opportunities to grow.

Making mistakes is essential to leadership because it allows you to experiment and try new things. If you’re afraid to make mistakes, you’ll never reach your full potential as a leader.

So embrace your mistakes, learn from them, and use them to become a better leader.

11. Work on Conflict Management

Conflict is a natural part of any productive team dynamic. When people with different personalities, backgrounds, and opinions come together, disagreements will inevitably occur.

However, conflict can also be a source of creativity and growth. If managed effectively, it can lead to better decision-making and improved communication.

There are a few key things to remember when dealing with conflict.

First, it’s important to remember that not all conflict is destructive. Some level of disagreement is healthy and can help stimulate new ideas.

Second, its essential to be proactive in managing conflict. Address issues as they arise rather than letting them fester. And finally, be respectful of other people’s opinions and points of view.

Even if you disagree with them, try to see things from their perspective. If you can work on these things, you’ll be well on your way to effectively managing conflict in your team.

12. Encourage Creativity

Encouraging creativity is another important aspect of being an effective leader. Creativity can help your team members find new and innovative ways to solve problems and help them come up with new ideas and approaches.

There are a few key things you can do to encourage creativity in your team:

First, create an environment where team members feel comfortable taking risks and exploring new ideas.

Second, provide opportunities for team members to share their ideas and get feedback.

And third, encourage and inspire team members to experiment and iterate on their ideas. Doing these things can create a culture of creativity that will help your team thrive.

13. Seven Extra soft skills you should master

Be Decisive

Being decisive is another crucial quality of effective leaders. When you are presented with a problem or decision, it’s essential to make a decision quickly and stick with it.

Take the Blame and Share the Credit

Leaders often have to take the blame when things go wrong, even if it’s not their fault. This can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that your team members look up to you and need you to be a role model.

Be a Good Listener

Listening is an essential skill for any leader. It’s important to be a good listener to understand what your team members say and identify potential problems.

Encourage Open Communication

Encouraging open communication is another vital aspect of being an effective leader. You should create an environment where team members feel comfortable communicating openly and honestly with each other and with you.

Promote a Positive Attitude

A positive attitude is contagious, so it’s crucial to promote a positive attitude within your team. As a leader, you set the tone for the team, so stay positive even when things are tough.

Delegate Effectively

One of the most challenging aspects of being a leader is knowing when to delegate tasks and to whom. Delegating effectively is essential to make the most of your team’s skills and talents.

Be a Good Role Model

Lastly, being a good role model for your team members is essential. Remember that they are watching you and will often emulate your behavior. So, make sure to set a good example!

Leading a team is not always easy, but it can be gratifying. Master these skills, and you are sure to succeed.

Grow your leadership qualities with a team leadership course

As a leader, you need to set the direction, provide energy and connect with your team. But do you know what type of leader you are and how your behavior impacts others?

Leading High-Performance Teams

What does your team look like today? Do your team members excel at collaborating in a constructive, positive way? Can they maximize their creative and innovation potential? What can you do to improve engagement, initiative, and the seizing of learning opportunities?

IMD’s Leading High-Performance Teams is a highly interactive and immersive on-campus experience. It enables you as a leader to build and sustain a high-performing team by maximizing your team’s talent and innovation potential through trust-building, inclusive leadership, and growth mindset.

Discover how, by focusing on inclusive leadership, interaction, creativity, and imagination, you can empower your team and enhance dynamics, ensuring that each person contributes his or her unique talents and surpasses expectations.

What’s in it for you?

By acquiring tools and behaviors that positively impact team dynamics for high-performance and better business outcomes, emerging leaders apply new skills to in the real world with experiential exercises, practical frameworks, and extensive coaching.

So, is this program right for you? Yes, if you are:

  1. An executive who formally or informally leads teams and where strong and cohesive teamwork is an essential part of execution and innovation efforts in your organization.
  2. Are looking for a program in which you can learn how to build a high-performance team in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  3. Are from a diverse industry or culture and are eager to leverage the synergies of your team and maximize the potential of virtual, hybrid and face-to-face settings for better business outcomes.
Read more great Leadership content