How to Build High Performance Teams

Maggie Sun
4 min readMay 18


A high-performance team is a group of individuals who work together in efficient collaboration to exceed expectations, outperform other teams, deliver superior performance, and achieve exceptional results.

Creating such a team requires deliberate effort, effective leadership, and a supportive organizational culture. More specifically, the recipe to success in the endeavor of building a high-performance team comprises three critical ingredients.

Build vulnerability-based trust!

Vulnerability-based trust is a concept popularized by Patrick Lencioni in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” It refers to a level of trust within a team or organization that allows individuals to be open, honest, and vulnerable with one another.

Building vulnerability-based trust encompasses several essential components:

  • Psychological Safety: Team members must feel psychologically safe to express themselves without fear of negative consequences.
  • Authenticity: Team members should strive to be authentic and genuine in their interactions. They should be willing to show their true selves, share their thoughts and feelings openly, and admit their mistakes.
  • Active Listening: Team members should actively listen to one another, showing empathy and understanding. This helps create an environment where everyone’s perspectives are valued and considered.
  • Non-Judgmental Attitude: A non-judgmental attitude is essential to foster vulnerability-based trust. Individuals should avoid criticizing or belittling others for their vulnerabilities or mistakes.

Developing vulnerability-based trust takes time and effort, but when teams successfully cultivate this trust, they can achieve higher levels of collaboration, innovation, and overall team performance.

Turn team conflicts into constructive disagreements!

It’s perfectly normal to have disagreements, disputes, or tensions among members of a team. While conflicts are often seen as negative, they can also present opportunities for growth, learning, and improved performance if handled properly. Here are some tips to achieve that by turning team conflicts into constructive disagreements:

· Encourage active listening (again): Emphasize the importance of active listening during disagreements. Encourage team members to listen attentively to understand each other’s viewpoints fully. This helps promote empathy and better comprehension of the underlying concerns.

· Respectful communication: Establish ground rules for respectful communication during disagreements. Encourage team members to express their viewpoints in a respectful manner, avoiding personal attacks or derogatory language. Reinforce the importance of focusing on the issues at hand rather than attacking individuals.

· Practice constructive questioning: Encourage team members to ask thoughtful and constructive questions to gain deeper insights into differing viewpoints. This promotes critical thinking, helps uncover underlying assumptions, and encourages the exploration of alternative solutions.

· Facilitate healthy debates: Provide a structured space for team members to engage in healthy debates. Encourage them to present evidence, challenge assumptions, and explore multiple perspectives. This can stimulate creative thinking and lead to more robust solutions.

Turning conflicts into constructive disagreements can lead to real commitment, because when people know that their opinions are taken into consideration, even if their own ideas are not selected in the end, they will commit to the consensus agreed upon by the majority. No weigh in, no buy in!

Hold each other accountable to achieve results!

When team members hold each other accountable, they take ownership of their actions, deliver on commitments, and achieve sustainable success together. Here are the pivotal elements to promote a culture of accountability:

· Clear expectations: Establish clear and specific expectations for individual and team performance. Ensure that every team member understands their roles, responsibilities, and the standards of performance. This clarity provides a foundation for holding each other accountable.

· Encourage self-accountability: Encourage team members to take ownership of their actions and outcomes. Everyone should hold themselves accountable for their performance, meeting deadlines, and delivering quality work. Encourage self-reflection and self-assessment to drive personal growth and improvement.

· Peer-to-peer accountability: Foster a team environment where team members feel comfortable and empowered to hold their peers accountable. Encourage constructive feedback and discussions about performance, deadlines, and goal attainment. This approach promotes shared responsibility and helps maintain high standards of performance.

· Consistency and fairness: Consistency is vital in holding each other accountable. Apply accountability practices uniformly across the team, ensuring fairness and equitable treatment. Consistent expectations and consequences for actions help build trust and maintain a positive team dynamic.

Holding each other accountable stimulates everyone in the team to work towards common goals, maintain high standards of performance, and deliver great results through synergy.


Lencioni, P. (2002, April 11). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. Jossey-Bass.

Related articles and book:

7 Reasons Why Teams Don’t Work

Agile Leadership Explained: We Can All Be Agile Leaders and Change the World Together! (Kobo)

Agile Leadership Explained: We Can All Be Agile Leaders and Change the World Together! (Amazon)

Collet, B. (2019). Agile leadership. (Online course).



Maggie Sun

MBA, certified agile coach and experienced strategy analyst, specializing in business agility, agile leadership, Beyond Budgeting, and general management.