Success factors for high performance teams

One of the essential characteristics of high-performance teams is a sense of psychological safety. But is this enough? If we look at different approaches, it quickly becomes clear that other success factors also play a central role.

Success factors for high performance teams

By Mike Hubmann
"Organizations today rely on talent, but there are many reasons why talent alone is not enough. The only way human capability can truly thrive is in an atmosphere that is free of fear." - Amy. C. Edmondson

Martin Seligman the founder of positive psychology describes in his book "How we flourish" the five pillars of positive psychology and personal well-being:

  • Positive emotions
  • Commitment
  • Meaning
  • Success & goal achievement
  • Positive Relationships

If we can foster and build these five pillars in ourselves and in our team, then we create the prerequisites for top performance.

uth Seliger identifies three principles as central elements in her book “Positive Leadership”:

  • Confidence - Focus on and appreciation for strengths, ressources and potential
  • Influence - Involvement & Empowerment
  • Meaning - motives from the past and the vision for the future.

These three principles permeate the practice and process of leadership and lay the foundation for a positive and creative mood as well as professional teamwork.

For Amy C. Edmondson, enabling psychological safety is the central element for successful organizations. In her book "The fearless Organization", Amy C. Edmondson impressively shows how the existence of a fear culture can harm companies (e.g. the diesel scandal at VW, the collapse of Wells Fargo, the downfall of Nokia). To create a fearless and inspiring organization, the following factors play a central role:

  • Create a frame of reference for meaningful work of teams and individuals
  • Invite employees to express themselves and participate openly. To do this, leaders should demonstrate humility, practice proactive enquiry and introduce facilitative structures / processes for sharing opinions and experiences.
  • Establish an atmosphere of continuous learning by frequently expressing appreciation and fostering an attitude of accepting failure and mistakes as necessary for learning and development.

In a long term internal survey Google discovered the following factors as being crucial for successful teamwork:

  • Psychological safety - Team members experience a sense of safety with each other and dare to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.
  • Reliability - tasks are completed on time and meet high quality standards
  • Structure and clarity - team members have clear roles, plans and goals
  • Meaning - work is personally meaningful to team members
  • Impact - team members see their work as important and making a difference

The different approaches have a high degree of overlap and complement each other beautifully. If you succeed in shaping these success factors positively, then nothing will stand in the way of high performance for you personally and in your team.