May 25, 2018

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Ten Characteristics of High Performing Teams

Getting started on building a high performing team can seem like a daunting task. After all, with so many different personalities and ingrained habits, it's hard to determine where to start.

Take a look at the Ten Characteristics of a High Performing Team below. Rate your team, on a 1 to 5 basis on each characteristic. Give the list to each person on your team for rating. Then compile the results and you'll have a good idea of where to get started. Just pick one or two areas to tackle. After you've made progress on those, chose another. In a very short time, you'll find that your environment is changing for the better and your team is moving into a high performance mode.

Servant leadership

The team leader understands how to serve the members of the team and gains influence through understanding and being responsive to their needs. All actions flow from the mission and help shape the organizational culture.

Open communication

Active listening is used to ensure crystal clear understanding. Productive conflict is encouraged so new ideas can be explored. Diverse opinions are welcomed.

Synergistic relationships

In an effective team, members gain strength from one another. They accomplish more together than they could acting individually. In this case, the whole is not only different, but also greater than the sum of its parts.

Personal development

Effective team members continually learn better ways of working together. Individuals take responsibility for improving knowledge to better contribute to the team.

Problem solving methods

The team follows a standardized and shared way of solving problems and conflict. Creativity is encouraged in problem solving.

Mission ready

Team members understand, tangibly support and buy into the organization's mission. It is considered worthwhile and guides the team in all actions. Personal issues do not supersede mission.

Results orientation

Regardless of tightly held beliefs, the team produces its deliverables on time and with high quality. The team members are self-directed and know what is expected of them; they willingly "buckle down" and deliver.

Flexible team structure

High performing teams are flexible, responsive, orderly and directed. They understand the dynamics of how their team operates and are able to easily adapt to a variety of situations.

Mutual support

Members of an effective team develop a distinctive team spirit that encourages mutual respect, support and enjoyment of one another. The team successes and failures impact each member, and the members willingly extend themselves to one another.


High performing teams look after their members in more ways than through providing a menu of psychological rewards. Team members actually grow in stature through their membership. Their potential is recognized and developed.

- Lynda Ford

Lynda Ford, author of this article, is a consultant, author and speaker and president of The Ford Group, a management and human resource consulting firm. She can be contacted by e-mail at, or by phone at (315) 339-6398. The Ford Group All rights reserved.