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What do high performing teams do differently?

November 18, 2021

If we asked you to list the characteristics of a high-performing team, what would they be? Maybe something about authentic communication and being aligned behind a clear vision? Perhaps you’d include something about every team member being valued?

A recent HBR article listed the five things they believe high-performing teams do differently, and, on the surface, there aren’t too many surprises. But read the detail and one interesting characteristic crops up – high-performing teams share the negative as well as the positive.

It’s because they’re more likely to have strong, authentic relationships based on sharing a range of emotions – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The challenge for leaders is to create an environment where team members feel safe sharing their moans and complaints. Being open and honest comes with responsibility.

One team leader told us he’d recently introduced a five-minute weekly rant on the team meeting agenda, although he did add that they leave the rant off the agenda when external guests join them. Crucially, the moans are balanced with other positive exchanges from work-related appreciation and recognition to light-hearted team quizzes. His team members have welcomed the chance to speak honestly with their teammates about what’s going on.

Giving people the space to share what’s driving them mad might feel like a risk, but with the right boundaries in place, it can be a powerful step in creating a strong team.

If you want to find out more about our thoughts on leadership, drop us a line, we’re always happy to talk about leadership, teams, and organisations.

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