Are you part of a high-performance team? How do you know? Well, you might have heard that racehorses that win the most races are only slightly faster than runner’s-up, but typically win 100 times the prize money.  There’s a similar disparity between workplace teams. Some seem to limp along, barely achieving the minimum acceptable results and other teams really gel, solving problems with innovation and style.


Business gurus like to talk about high-performance teams such as those involved in the Manhattan Project, the original Microsoft Windows development group, Disney’s Pixar Animation team, and other ‘brand names’. But at Brilliant Training, we think that high performing teams should be much more common than that.


In fact, we believe that many of us have already been part of a high-performance team, but for many of us this has been outside of our professional careers. Consider an amateur stage play you were involved in, a high school sports team, a college newspaper editorial team, and so on. Many of these groups come together in a way that is palpable, exciting, and highly memorable. The lasting effect of being part of a high-performance team is that you are changed forever. Participation in a high-performance team leaves behind a yearning to feel that again.


High performance teams info graphic

Characteristics of High-Performance Teams

High-performance teams have a certain signature, both in what they achieve and how they achieve it. Characteristics include:

1. High-Performance Teams surpass expectations and achieve outstanding success.

2. High-Performance Teams pursue a compelling purpose that inspires and stretches group members.

3. Members of High-Performance Teams are fully engaged, jumping in with enthusiasm and passion – regardless of role.

4. High-Performance Teams describe their experience by using words like exciting, inspiring, and life-changing.

5. High-Performance Teams share leadership, and members take mutual responsibility for group success.

Benefits of High Performing Teams

Being part of a high-performance team has many benefits. Members typically report:

  • Increased confidence in their abilities and performance.
  • Higher motivation and morale.
  • Restored faith and increased appreciation for organizations.
  • New and deeper connections with others.
  • New skills and knowledge that lead to a larger sense of personal empowerment.

But the benefits of high-performance teams aren’t limited to individual participants. Organizations that foster high performing teams reap considerable benefits too:

  • Goals set for groups are achieved and frequently surpassed.
  • Group performance releases talent and energy not usually available to the organization.
  • Members develop superior skills, knowledge, and insight, thereby increasing the capacity of the organization.
  • Enduring relationships and networks grow and set the stage for future collaboration.
  • Loyalty to the organization increases, along with the sense that “this is a great place to work”.


It’s unfortunate that many of us working in teams are settling for mediocrity when the rewards of high performance are so great. Especially when, just like racehorses, high performing teams are only slightly different than normal teams. It’s just a few key elements that make the difference between mediocrity and outrageous success.


For more on how to develop a high-performance team, see part two of this article, and check out our Action Based Leadership methodology for team leaders!