High performing teams

The very best speaker I know on high performing teams is Lindsay McKenna.  Her core mantra is that the job of the business leader is to look after the team so the team looks after the business. But that's easier said than done so how does she suggest we do so?

In this article I share the 9 elements of a high performance team suggested by Lindsay McKenna clustered into three groups: the will to succeed, the ability to succeed, and the energy to succeed.

Look after the team so the team looks after the business

Lindsay begins by suggesting that businesses gain from a common approach to teamwork and having a robust repeatable process that can be mastered. 

She points out that real benefits are derived when new teams can start up and team members can move from team to team and feel instantly “at home” with the approach being taken and the language and tools adopted. She suggests a useful framework which sets out what she suggests are the 9 elements of a high performance team which she clusters into three main themes.  I summarise them for the impatient business leader below:

The three key elements necessary for success are, Lindsay suggests, that teams must have the will to succeed, the ability to succeed and the energy to succeed.

The will to succeed

This is the foundation of any team – necessary for the team members to be fully engaged and comprises:

Common purpose

Explicit mutual commitment


The ability to succeed

Having the will is not enough; the team must also have the ability to succeed.  They must be enabled to succeed. That means three further things:

Agreed ways of working

Team members have the ability to perform the required tasks in the agreed timescales

A means of ensuring accountability

The energy to succeed

And finally the team needs energy. It must be energised which itself requires

A positive and innovative culture

An attitude that responds positively and constructively to unforeseen obstacles

Recognition of both contribution and achievements by individuals and the team